Below the Surface – S1E7
[00:02:41] Hello and welcome to this episode of Below the Surface. I’m your host, Kermani, and here is my co-host, Stephanie Kawecki on.
[00:02:54] Thanks, Darshana.
[00:02:56] Hello, everyone. How are you today?
[00:03:00] I’m very well, thank you, Stephanie. How are you doing?
[00:03:03] Quite well. Interesting on Thursday. Today that’s new for us.
[00:03:07] It definitely is. It sounds a bit odd. I feel like it’s a Monday, but it’s got to be a good thing. If it’s Thursday and it’s the weekend from tomorrow, we’re getting close. We are indeed. So normally, Stephanie, we talk about that since things I’m going to change it up a bit this week. And it’s obviously Cybersecurity Awareness Month. We are a cybersecurity company. And I know you’ve been working hard on promoting Cybersecurity Awareness Month. If you want to tell us a little bit about the month and what it means and what we’re doing, certainly so happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month, everybody.
[00:03:42] It is the month of October.
[00:03:44] The National Cybersecurity Alliance here in the US does celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month every single October. And they have been for about 17 years now. I believe this is the 17th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
[00:03:58] We kind of dropped the national out of the National Cyber Security Alliance just for this month because the global reach of Cybersecurity Awareness Month is really big and countries all over the world participate to remind individuals we all have a little bit of a responsibility to keep our part of cyber cyberspace safe.
[00:04:20] And that is, in fact, the theme of this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month. And it is do your part and be cyber smart.
[00:04:28] So as we’re all increasingly connected and more so now that a lot of us are working remotely, it’s really our duty to remain super vigilant about operating with best security practises in mind. So not clicking links and emails, one of their taglines this month, if you can it protect it. And that’s just a really good advice and ask you to run.
[00:04:53] That’s of it, and I think it’s so apt for now with everyone working from home for personal perspective as well as for organisations, and I guess that takes us nicely to the topic of our show today, where it will be around like raising awareness about cybersecurity and what we do from a marketing perspective to really help drive that. But before we start, a quick reminder that you can ask questions in the comments section below or feel free to just say hello and just know where you are watching from.
[00:05:20] Yes, please. We’re so interested to hear where you guys are all located. And I am also really excited about today’s show and some of the topics that we’re going to cover.
[00:05:29] And as a recap, so far below the surface, we’ve covered a lot. We’ve covered the need for secure SD-Wan trends and spearfishing with our spearfishing report, MSK, the MFP market and our partnership with Microsoft most recently.
[00:05:45] I mean, an amazing range of topics there, and if you want to watch any of them, just go to our LinkedIn Life LinkedIn page and in the video section where you can see all of them in your own time. So now let’s welcome our guest for today, Erin Hense. Erin is back here to CMO and has been at Barracuda for over three years. Erin brings over 20 years of marketing leadership experience to her role. She has been instrumental in defining the company’s market growth strategy and drives worldwide demand generation product marketing, partner marketing, communications and brand marketing. Erin has a track record of successfully scaling some businesses in both B2B and consumer products and has previously worked at companies such as Urban Airship, Citrix and Symantec. Welcome to the show, Erin.
[00:06:35] Thanks, Darshana. Hi, Stephanie, it’s great to be here. We’re so glad to have you here.
[00:06:41] So, Darusman, I have just been discussing Cyber Security Awareness Month. Any thoughts or tips for our audience?
[00:06:48] Well, I think a key piece of advice is to truly be aware and to be educated on the threats that are out there. The way that the threat landscape has evolved is it’s becoming much more personal and much more about people. And the cyber criminals are infiltrating businesses and organisations through individuals. And so, I mean, I get a lot of people don’t know there are 13 different types of email threats. And so educating and being aware of what those are is really important. People might be aware of scamming and malware and phishing and maybe even spearfishing, but the threats have evolved even beyond that to conversation hijacking and where literally they will infiltrate a conversation between two people in a business in order to get one of them to do a wire transfer or something else like that. So there are a lot of new and different ways that that cyber criminals are attacking.
[00:07:59] I think it’s crazy to think what hackers can be doing, and I guess companies like Barracuda really need to stay at the forefront of this to help individuals as well as organisations to beat the fight against them. So if you don’t mind, we’d like to start this interview with you and take a look at a bit about your past and how you came about and getting into marketing. So can you tell us who did you want to be when you grow up and why?
[00:08:31] Mean one person that had a lot of influence on who I am today and.
[00:08:40] And how I approach things is my aunt, my mother’s sister, and she was an independent businesswoman, she had her own business.
[00:08:49] She was very, very independent, had her own home and did did everything on her own and was very successful.
[00:08:57] She was also very stylish. And so as a young teenager, there are a lot of fascinating things about her that I looked up to.
[00:09:06] And so I would say that she she has had a tremendous influence on my life and really wanting to have a career and and again, make it on my own.
[00:09:18] Well, Erin, I think I might want to be your aunt when I grow up to see some very glamorous.
[00:09:25] Yeah, absolutely.
[00:09:27] So it’s all it’s always really crucial to have somebody to look up to somebody who inspires you, someone you can emulate. But of course, experiences are just as important. So what elements of your youth shaped who you are today?
[00:09:44] One thing is that I was as a child and as a teenager, I was very, very shy and this was, I mean, painfully shy. And my parents, my mother especially, what what she did early on is encourage me to get into public speaking. And so from the age of nine, through the age of 15, I entered public speaking contests, whether it was through the school or through a local community organisation. I competed in public speaking and it was very hard at first.
[00:10:23] But the good thing was that I didn’t have to think about what to say, basically wrote the speech, memorised it, practised it, and then it was all about the delivery at the big moment. And what I found is I enjoyed a number of things about it. I enjoyed the interaction from the audience. And so trying to bring in humour, getting people to laugh, not like stand up or anything, but but being able to interact with the audience. And then also Neron as I competed more, it was the competition and it was the opportunity to win. And so that really drove me as I was embarking on that. And what’s interesting, too, is as it evolved through the years, through those years, some of the contests. Had an added element where you had to do an impromptu speech, and that for me was terrifying as a shy, introverted person, and basically you would choose a topic out of the hat and you’d have 20 minutes to think about it, prepare your thoughts kind of backstage, and then you would have to present. And one that is particularly memorable for me is presenting in front of four hundred people on actually don’t remember the topic, which is kind of funny, but it was it was a real challenge. And I think that that shaped a lot of who I am today and has really helped me out in in my career. Of course, as business people were presenting were were speaking and meetings were presenting at events quite often. And so those capabilities have been in play my whole career.
[00:12:08] That’s amazing, I mean, an awesome role model to help to drive independence, a competitive streak and public speaking. So then why did you get into marketing? What attracted you to this career?
[00:12:23] I kind of fell into it, so I went to school, I went to university and studied English for an arts and science degree, and toward the end of that, as I was approaching graduation, I had no idea what I was going to do. And it’s not like today where kids are so prepared and they start at a really young age to know what they want to do, what they want to go to school for. And they’re preparing for that certainly throughout their entire high school years. Back in the day, it wasn’t like that as much. And we weren’t there wasn’t as much information available to us in terms of what the possibilities were. And so I took English getting close to the end of my my four years, not sure what I would do, but something that I found in in my fourth year as I started to take business courses, I really enjoyed them. And so I went on after that for another year of school, for a management studies degree or diploma. And it was essentially like the first year of an MBA. And from there through the career centre, I actually kind of fell into my first role, which happened to be a marketing assistant role at a tech company in Toronto and really the beginning of my marketing career.
[00:13:48] That’s a great story, you know, I’m sure that some of the fearlessness that you learnt in public speaking came into play in that first marketing role for sure.
[00:13:57] So I’m curious, Aaron, how is cyber security marketing different to other industries?
[00:14:04] I would say that high tech in general is very fast paced compared to other industries, and then security kind of takes it up a notch in that the threat landscape is always changing. So security companies really have to stay on top of what the hackers are doing and what the latest and greatest is in in hacking and in cyber crime.
[00:14:25] And so it’s very fast paced. And that’s an enjoyable part. It’s a challenge. And there’s also a competitive element to. Right. It’s it’s staying ahead of the hackers and and coming up with new capabilities and new technologies. Now that we have machine learning and artificial intelligence, there’s so much more that we can be building into our products to be able to keep our customers safe.
[00:14:50] So obviously, you’re used to the fast pace of change. Let’s take it to marketing, what’s changed in marketing and what is actually standard the test of time in your experience?
[00:15:03] I would say something that stands the test of time is the need to really understand your customer and what their problems are that that you can solve and putting yourself in their shoes and then from a marketing perspective, making them the hero of your communications to your products, not the hero. Your product is the assist or the help for the hero of the story, who is the customer? So having that customer focus, that customer knowledge, knowing what’s really important to them and what motivates them and what helps them is is key. And that has always been and will always be in terms of what’s changed. The biggest thing in my 20 plus years of marketing experience is the the technology that’s available to us. So the delivery mechanisms for our messages, we just have so many more ways. They’re much more targeted. We can have much more personalised and more meaningful communication, whether that’s through Web technology, search technology, other digital capabilities. There’s just so much that’s available to us. And the whole marketing mix that we put in play just has so many more options. And the other thing I would say that it’s been a huge change from from back in the day is that we’re we’re able to really measure the impact of marketing. Now, before there was the old adage, half of my marketing is really effective. I just don’t know which half. Well, today we do know we can very much pinpoint what’s effective. We can experiment. And for the things that that work, we can double down on on them. And for things that don’t work, we can stop. And we have clear ways of knowing the impact that we’re having on the business in in B2B. It’s with partnership with the sales team and really understanding what’s resonating, what’s driving people to take their interest and take those next steps to engage with us and to engage with our partners.
[00:17:17] Lots of changes, lots of good changes. It sounds like in the marketing space, I wonder what the world’s going into working from home as a result of the pandemic recently.
[00:17:27] How did you have to change barracudas marketing strategy?
[00:17:31] Yes, that was pretty disruptive and continues to be disruptive for everyone. We’re all kind of going through a lot of the changes at the same time, as I look back at the February March timeframe, as the pandemic began to travel throughout the world and hit the United States, we actually we saw it coming, in a sense, through our digital marketing is quite interesting. But we saw it in Asia-Pacific first, then in Europe, then very quickly in the United States, where the search volume decreased significantly. I mean, completely DDoS. And by that, I mean as people are searching for terms related to the offerings that we have and the search terms that we bid on, we saw that search volume declining and saw that move throughout the world. Then, of course, the lockdown began in around the mid March timeframe. And at that time it became clear to us at Barracuda and in the marketing team that that we were going to have to change the way we were talking to our customers and our prospects and our partners. So everyone was taking their businesses remote work from home became the thing in order for businesses to keep up and running. And some were better equipped than others. And so what we did is we paused all of our marketing. We paused the webinars that we had planned, the email, communication and marketing campaigns that we had planned. And and we pivoted and spent a week and two weeks developing all new content that very much spoke to what businesses the challenge that businesses were going through at that time. Meaning? Moving their employees remote, so we have technologies or VPN technologies and others that that help businesses move their employees remote and still AIX be able to access the network in the corporate assets. We also have capabilities that that protect people from email threats and businesses from email threats. So what we were seeing at that time is there were impersonations of the CDC, the World Health Organisation, hackers attempting to get employees to click on on links to find out more about what was going on when really it was a scam. And so we we found through our threat research that this was skyrocketing. And so having focus on helping customers prospects and partners with that as well. And then the other areas. As retail companies and other businesses that depend so much on in person, it became very much about their e-commerce platforms and their websites and so their traffic went up significantly. And we have technology that helps them manage that and also stay safe and protected from from hacks and from other types of attacks, dos and but bot attacks. And so all of our messaging shifted to really being able to help businesses in those different areas that were accelerated with the pandemic and the lockdown. And other things that that changed so clearly, our content changed dramatically, blog posts, et cetera. We were just the team was really focussed on getting information out there to help businesses, the other kinds of things that changed in that time. We do airport and radio advertising. Well, people weren’t flying and people weren’t commuting. And so we shifted our our brand dollars to sponsorships of podcasts. And a lot of the podcasts were about coronavirus and so forth. People were consuming a lot of that information.
[00:21:38] And so we were reaching people through those vehicles. So those are that’s an example of some of the changes that we made.
[00:21:48] Thank you for that. That’s a lot of changes in a short space of time and a definite shift in the strategy put towards marketing. How do you think this will impact marketing trends moving forward?
[00:22:03] A number of ways, so an obvious one would be in-person events, so we, like many businesses and our partners as well, had many events planned and starting in March, had to really make a shift to virtual.
[00:22:21] And so in our first quarter, which runs from March to May, our fiscal quarter, in a typical year, we’ll have maybe twenty five webinars that we produce in that time frame. This year it was over one hundred. And the other thing that we did was, again, all of the content was very relevant to what businesses were going through at the time because of the pandemic and the lockdown. And we did who sponsored webinars with partners. So normally we would do events with our partners in person events, whether it’s small group training events or larger social events. None of that could happen anymore. So we pivoted to virtual webinars, doing them together and into other creative programmes where we were able to reach people with our partners digitally.
[00:23:20] So those are just a couple of of the things I I would say.
[00:23:27] Other shifts that happened and will continue. We removed a lot of our effort into activities like telemarketing, where we’re able to reach people and then, of course, digital people are on their screens all day long now with the remote meetings. And so being able to reach people through digital becomes even more important.
[00:23:52] Partners and Berahino worked really closely with partners. Can you tell us why partners are so important to the Barracuda business?
[00:24:01] Absolutely, Barracuda is one of the most channel centric companies around, and we have a reputation in the market for being very channel and partner centric and and.
[00:24:15] They’re so pivotal to our business, virtually all of our business goes through partners, whether it’s sourced by us or sourced by them. And so the things that we do with partners are critical. We’ve had to come up with new and creative ways of working with our partners in the lockdown and in the pandemic environment. And it’s continuing to work really well for us.
[00:24:41] It’s something that we have coming up just next week, in fact, is our global virtual partner summit discovered 20 and we’re really excited about this. Little nervous, if I’m being honest. Right. Events are always very nerve wracking, but especially when you try something completely new. And we’re delivering this event to our partners virtually for the first time and also globally. So it’s pretty exciting.
[00:25:12] We’ll be kicking it off at eight a.m. next Tuesday on the 13th, and that’s 8:00 a.m. local time zone. So we’re supporting three different time zones with the event and starting it locally.
[00:25:26] Exciting times forward to next week, so with Palin as being such a pivotal part of Kakuta, how can they engage in marketing activities with us?
[00:25:36] Well, the obvious answer to that, first of all, is come to our event next week because we’re doing this as a virtual event for the first time ever. We have a full track on marketing. And so we have a full set of content and presentations and essentially training on marketing and marketing. In our typical partner conferences where we have them live, our partners will send senior people from their organisation or senior sales people, but not that often do the marketing people get to go. And so this is a way for us to reach all of the marketing people within our partner organisations. So, by all means, come to our December 20 event next week and the content will be available for a period of time following the event as well, so people can listen to it on demand. And so we’re pretty excited about it.
[00:26:36] Very exciting to kick that off next week. I can’t wait to see how it goes.
[00:26:41] I’m excited to be a part of it also, Aaron. And what else can partners expect from this virtual event? Things are definitely different, as you mentioned.
[00:26:51] Absolutely. And it’s been.
[00:26:55] A fun project to do research and talk to other GMs and other leaders about what they’ve found with their virtual events and fortunately, the timing that we have were able to gain some learning and really benefit from the experience of others. What we’re going to do and what people can expect is a number of main stage presentations to kick things off. And part of our philosophy with this virtual event is to be very succinct and get the message across in a timely manner. We’re. Very aware of the fact that it’s hard to keep people’s attention for a long period of time, so many of our sessions are the main stage sessions are no more than 30 minutes and in some cases much shorter. And the sessions that follow are we’re keeping them to twenty, twenty five minutes. But the main stage presentations, what people can expect is to hear from our our leaders, from B.J. Jenkins, our CEO, from our chief operations officer, Hatem Naguib, and also our core product leaders for both email and email protection and data network and application security, as well as our CTO who will talk about a lot of the future research and technologies that that we’re offering to protect our customers today. So the main stage sessions will be very, very compelling, I think, for our audience. And then from there, we’re offering multiple tracks. So there’s a track for MSP partners, specifically manage service providers. We also have a track for sales or commercial and then technical, generally very popular and our events to have a technical trial. And then finally, as I mentioned, marketing. So there’s a lot of opportunity for people to customise what they participate in. The other thing that I’ll mention is that for premium preferred partners, there’s an opportunity to set up meetings and one on ones with our executive team. So that’s another thing that will be offered through the week and in fact the second week as well. And then finally, there will be networking opportunities. So the platform that we’re using affords people the opportunity to network with other attendees, to network with the folks that will have their from the product team, from our our channel teams. So there’s a lot of opportunity for interaction as well as consuming the content.
[00:29:42] I mean, it sounds like a great event with so much to consume and the partners who haven’t engaged with us from a marketing perspective, what piece of advice would you give for them to get involved?
[00:29:56] I don’t mean to be a broken record, but again, the marketing track of Discover, there are other opportunities as well. We have channel marketing managers, people who are dedicated to working with our partners in marketing and in helping them in any any way that they need help at Barracuda. And so one thing that I really encourage people to do is reach out to their marketing managers.
[00:30:24] All right, so changing the topic slightly as a woman in leadership. What advice would you give your younger self about her career?
[00:30:36] Probably many things, but one that comes to mind is the notion of.
[00:30:43] Don’t ask, don’t get so in other words, if there are things that you want, particularly in a career setting or from a career perspective, make it known to people. So if if people don’t know what you want to learn or where you want to take your career, they don’t know how to help you. And and it’s really amazing for me. Throughout my career, there have been many I’ve had many mentors and others who have been extremely supportive of my development and and the opportunities that have been afforded to me. And so one piece of advice that I would give myself is make it known what you want and where you want to take your career.
[00:31:28] And I think that this advice plays really well in our personal lives to a good friend of mine who is in sales, really kind of got me on this idea of don’t ask, don’t get. And she was just very clear with me with a challenge where she said, try to go for a month, where your objective is to get 10 no’s. In other words, ask for things that you wouldn’t normally ask for just to kind of. Practise. Practise and use that muscle and get used to the rejection or being told, no, it’s really not that big of a deal. And so some of the examples just very simple things back because we travelled back then and we will again. But her advice was, you know, when you’re checking out at a hotel, ask them to take something off the bill just because or ask for an upgrade when you’re travelling either on the airline or in a hotel environment or ask for a free dessert just just because or if there was something wrong with the service, make sure that you ask for something to to make up for that. And so it was it’s it’s quite a challenge to do that. But what you find is you get a lot more yeses than you expect. So, again, taking that back to the career setting in terms of advice for people, you know, not everyone knows exactly where they want to take their career, especially early in their career. And so it’s it’s also an experimental stage. So try different things, move to different jobs, let people know what you’d like to try, what you’d like to learn, and you’ll be amazed how how much support there is for you, especially if you’re a strong performer. I mean, that’s a key. But if you if you deliver strong outcomes for the business and for the team, then people are going to be very willing to help you in your development.
[00:33:38] Thanks, Erin. I mean, that’s some really great advice for anyone to take on. I will definitely take on the challenges 10 DDoS a month. I mean, I think rejection is always an obstacle in asking for what you want. So if people can get used to that and also relying on your network and having that that network to talk to and pass things through. So talking about networking, how can women support others when it comes to leadership?
[00:34:04] That’s a great question and it’s something that we should very much proactively do. Madeleine Albright has that famous quote, There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support women. And it really it really rings true. That is something that that we we should do. And, you know, there was a time in my career. Where I found myself not doing that, we were having we’re having a big event and one of the female executives and at this company, there weren’t very many she was presenting at this this big event. And I found myself kind of critiquing her and and thinking, you know, like nit picking and finding what was wrong with her presentation. And I realised at one point what I was doing and kind of stopped myself and thought, wait a second, she’s actually doing a great job. And in fact, she’s doing as well as anybody else. And so why are you why are you doing this? Why are you holding her to a different standard? And I realise that it just that was completely wrong. And I think part of the challenge is, is society has women competing with each other a lot of the time. And as we grow up, there’s the mean girl thing and there’s just the the whole competitiveness that that exists. And I think we really have a duty to to turn that around into supporting each other. And what I did at that event is like I change my mindset and looked looked at her and the presentation through different eyes. And I sent her a note and let her know afterward how she did a really great job. And I was really happy that she was there representing the company and also representing women. And so I turned that into more of an opportunity of support. And since then, I’ve been very conscious of of my thoughts and my actions as well.
[00:36:17] Thank you for sharing that story. It’s really important to share those kinds of anecdotes, and I think that a lot of us are taught that there is only a certain amount of success.
[00:36:27] And so that’s where that competitive nature can come from. It’s important to take that step back and offer support instead.
[00:36:34] So on that same note, it can be especially difficult for women, especially in technology, in the cybersecurity space. How can both men and women help the balance?
[00:36:45] A big part of it is awareness and education and in understanding the numbers, so understanding within your company, OK, where are we in terms of women in leadership roles and women in managerial roles and and being aware of that and then consciously trying to have a balance? And I think this goes for gender balance and diversity as well as other aspects, including racial and so forth, because people that come from different backgrounds or from different life experiences bring very different perspectives to the table. And I mean, we’ve all been on cross-functional teams or teams that are working on a project or for a particular outcome. And what I’ve found time and again, I mean, it’s just a fact that the more diverse the group, whether it’s coming from different functions, mix of genders, mix of races like people with diversity, those teams have much better outcomes than than teams that are not that way and not diverse. And so I think it’s a duty that we all have for for performance of the business. And we should all be very aware of that.
[00:38:07] And I think the first key is having the data and being conscious of it and and really trying to ensure that we have as much diversity as we can.
[00:38:21] Thank you. I couldn’t agree with you more diversity is so important, unfortunately, I mean, I could carry on this conversation, but we have run out of time. There’s been an absolute pleasure in talking to you today. And I’ve learnt a lot from this session. And it’s really key takeaways, whether it’s your marketing, whether you’re a partner of ours or whether you’re a woman in leadership.
[00:38:41] It’s been amazing. Any final thoughts, Erin, before we let you go?
[00:38:46] I guess one more pitch for all of the partners that are out there, we really look forward to hosting you next Tuesday. We hope that you’ll register and join us for Discover 20, our Virtual Partners Summit. We’re looking forward to welcoming you and spending time with you.
[00:39:07] Thanks, Aaron. Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. Don’t forget to follow Barracuda on LinkedIn to see our previous shows, as well as find out what’s coming next on below the surface.
[00:39:18] Happy Cyber Security Awareness Month. We’ll see it discovered 20 and until next time. Have a safe journey.