RSA Conference 2019: 10 Execs On Who's The Biggest 'Unsung Hero' For Their Business

Staying Below The Surface

It takes a village to raise a cybersecurity company, and top executives and departments heads alike know they wouldn't be where they are today without support from some exceptional members of their organization.

CRN spoke with 10 cybersecurity CEOs, sales experts, and technical gurus attending RSA Conference 2019 about the 'unsung heroes' within their own organization and what makes these employees so indispensable.

Many of the 'unsung heroes' have a strong background in both business and technology, are able to connect with the customer on an emotional level, and have helped their organization gain a foothold in a new technology area. Here's a look at 10 emerging or established leaders that peers feel like haven't gotten the recognition they deserve.

Kelly Bissell, Accenture Security Global Lead, Senior Managing Director

Ganesh Devarajan spent several years as a hardcore developer at GoDaddy and holds an MBA from Northwestern, making him far from a typical consultant, Bissell said. Devarajan has been a managing director and North America communication security lead for Accenture since December 2016, according to LinkedIn.

Devarajan's strong computer science and business strategist background has caused him to focus heavily on application security, where he's attempted to fix underlying problems and transform the way Accenture thinks about the DevSecOps. Devarajan is never satisfied with the status quo, Bissell said, and is courageous enough to start over from scratch when the situation merits.

Most of Devarajan's work is sole-sourced, Bissell said, meaning that clients keep calling him back for additional projects without any type of request for proposal (RFP) or formal bid process. Clients are always trying to hire Devarajan, but Bissell really doesn't want him to leave.

Caleb Barlow, IBM Security Vice President of Threat Intelligence

Allison Ritter is one of the most sought-after resources in the industry from executives and security professionals looking to figure out if their incident response runbooks and procedures are any good, Barlow said. She has served as the creative director of the IBM X-Force Command Center since June 2017, according to LinkedIn.

Ritter's background in media arts and gaming allows her to create a simulation that's occurring at a level that's going to get executives to sweat, Barlow said. Instead of just focusing on the facts, Barlow's said Ritter's simulations get to the emotions around trying to make the right decisions with limited information while getting pulled in 15 different directions at once.

More than 2,700 clients have walked through Ritter's range and sought her out, according to Barlow.

Matthew Polly, CrowdStrike VP of Worldwide Business Development, Alliances And Channels

Khahn Tran engages with customers, partners, and internal constituents across the board to ensure that CrowdStrike is not only building the right product, but also positioning and pricing itself correctly and addressing customer and partner needs, Polly said. Tran has been at CrowdStrike since April 2014, and served as vice president of product management since June 2018, according to LinkedIn.

Tran has an engineering background rather than a business background, and is therefore able to go very deep on the technology and is very creative in terms of coming up with new offerings that meet all the different requirements of the stakeholder, Polly said.

Specifically, Polly said Tran has excelled at getting new products onto the AWS marketplace, as well as meeting the needs, scope and scale of demands associated with the new relationship with Dell and SecureWorks. Tran is also very creative in terms of how CrowdStrike responds to the unique requirements of an MSSP that are different from an end user's requirements, Polly said.

Chris Young, McAfee CEO

Celeste Fralick has applied her trade for a long time, Young said, and is very passionate about the application of data science to a variety of problems in cybersecurity. Fralick has served as McAfee's chief data scientist and senior principal engineer since April 2017, according to LinkedIn.

Fralick has gotten very deeply involved as a data science practitioner, and she is far more focused on solving problems than getting recognition, according to Young. She is the key player in driving value around artificial intelligence as well as training the next generation of data scientists and engineers to realize the technology's potential, Young said.

Under Fralick's tutelage, Young said artificial intelligence has become increasingly core to how McAfee detects threats, enables its security operations, and improves the throughput of products.

Preston Hogue, F5 Networks Senior Director, Threat Research & Security Marketing

Dave Schmidt's thinking about how to put frameworks and platforms in place has enabled customers to deal with application-based challenges in unique and different ways, Hogue said. Schmidt has served as F5's vice president of product development and chief architect since October 2008, according to LinkedIn.

Hogue said that Schmidt thinks five steps ahead with F5's technology, providing customers with access to technology that addresses problems they haven't even thought about yet. Schmidt surrounds himself with great individuals and takes very little credit himself, Hogue said, even though many of the innovations coming out of F5 are a direct result of his efforts.

Schmidt looks at challenges in a unique and different way, which Hogue said is behind the fundamentals of how F5's core technologies work.

Dug Song, Cisco Vice President And General Manager & Duo Security Co-Founder

Trey Boynton has brought diversity of thought to the table to help prevent the adversary from taking advantage of monolithic ways of thinking. She has served as Duo Security's diversity and inclusion manager since August 2017.

Song said Boynton excels at learning to integrate and innovate around diverse viewpoints and skills and building products where accessibility presents opportunity. Individuals who are legally blind can log into Duo, Song said, while Cisco makes a sign language interpreter available at some of its events.

Boynton has connected diversity and inclusion to security in ways that are really relevant, Song said, with a focus on being thoughtful and empathetic as well as protecting others from harm. She encourages employees to put themselves in the shoes of the people they serve, Song said, as well as think about what it takes to use, manage, sell, deploy and support the product.

Karl Soderlund, Palo Alto Networks Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channel Sales

Jeremy Behrle has really helped Palo Alto Networks develop its CYBERFORCE program, which recognizes high-performing partner sales engineers by providing them with recognition, enablement and training, Soderlund said. He joined Palo Alto Networks in September 2014, and currently serves as technical the chief of global channels.

The program Behrle developed has really been one that partner engineering teams absolutely love, Soderlund said, with Palo Alto Networks going from zero to 800 CYBERFORCE members in less than two years. Recognition in the CYBERFORCE is based not only on certifications, Soderlund said, but also looks at professional development, training, and alignment.

Behrle has brought pre-sales and post-sales technical resources to bear for CYBERFORCE members, Soderlund said. As the head of global technical enablement, Soderlund said Behrle has been incredibly focused on listening to the partner community to better understand their needs.

Haiyan Song, Splunk Senior Vice President and General Manager, Security Markets

Sendur Sellakumar provides first-hand experience around the needs and challenges customers face running Splunk, offering valuable feedback to make the product and process better based on tests of the technology, Song said. He has served as Splunk's senior vice president of cloud since March 2018.

Sellakumar used to be an investment banker, Song said, and he's brought that work ethic to his role at Splunk. He's super analytical, Song said, and understands that running a business like this goes well beyond tactics to include economic issues such as optimization the infrastructure working with partners like AWS.

He has brought so much of his analytical background to the position, Song said.

Mike Viscuso, Carbon Black Co-Founder And Chief Strategy Officer

Scott Lundgren excels at communicating about security, whether it's helping an analyst describe why a security issue should be important to their boss or helping a CISO describe why a security mater should be important to the board, Viscuso said. Lundgren has served as chief technology officer at Carbon Black since November 2018, according to CRN.

Lundgren has never approached his job from purely from a security standpoint or purely from a cost perspective, Viscuso said. Given Lundgren's background in each one of those areas, Viscuso said Lundgren can translate security to technology and vice versa.

Lundgren has been a rock at Carbon Black since the very beginning, and Viscuso said he's good at talking security with everyone from an entry-level employee to the CTO.

Adam Burke, Quest Technology Management Vice President of Sales and Partnerships

Amy Comi is responsible for one of the largest deals Quest has won this year, Burke said. She oversees SLED partner contracts, manages procurement and all of the company's requests for proposal, and is responsible for one of the largest deals Quest won this year, according to Burke.

So many 'gotchas' can happen within the procurement cycle, and Burke said Comi has tremendous attention to detail when putting together bids from multiple vendors and consistently makes sure that the process is being stuck to.

Comi is an effective communicator with high emotional intelligence and an innate ability to read people, Burke said. She does a very good job of delivering what people are asking for and intuiting what wasn't actually said, according to Burke.