Mentoring & Coaching

Mentoring & Coaching
What service do you rely on for professional development opportunities for your cybersecurity team?

Top Answer: For general training: Pluralsight/Cloud Academy with some courses from Udemy and Cybrary.  For product/vendor-specific training, we use the education services/academies of the cybersecurity vendors. 

How do you see your role in corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

Top Answer: I learned the hard way how to build my career through various services, domains, and markets; now, I am passionate about guiding young engineering and management students to the right career. Given that technology changes every three to five years, as does the geopolitical and business environment, I assist them in determining what skills they need to keep up with these changes and become self-sufficient. As part of my corporate social responsibility (CSR), I provide guidance through webinars. I'm also working on a book about how to differentiate your career, because careers require careful planning to grow sustainably. The competition is becoming increasingly fierce, so there is a real need to differentiate yourself.

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What habits have helped you transform yourself into a leader?

Top Answer: First of all, you should emotionally connect with your team. Try to understand their pain points. Similarly, you should also help others often. It's difficult for many people to inculcate the habit of helping others without any reciprocal benefit. But when you help others, you also benefit from the experience. It gives you a sense of satisfaction to know that you’ve helped somebody in their career, or as a team member.  If you want to do a litmus test as to whether you are on the path to leadership, ask yourself: Are people inspired by you to do better each day? Do your team members feel motivated to go the extra mile? Are they working more than their normal hours? If so, then you are a leader because you have to set an example for your team without micromanaging them.  The most important habit is self discipline. Self discipline requires many things, including time management, keeping a regular schedule, exercising, etc. As the saying goes, health is wealth and a sound mind lives in a sound body. Always pay attention to how you are managing your time. Everybody has 24 hours, but time management is a real art to learn.

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Leadership Under PressureLeadership Under Pressure

Leadership pressure: What are the causes and how do leaders cope, especially during a generational crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic?

What should be the primary focus of modernization efforts: people or processes?

Top Answer: Rabinow’s Rule #23 of leadership states that If you have someone who is a dope at the top, you will have, or soon will have dopes all the way down. There are a lot of people who are thrust into different roles without understanding the potential ramifications, probably because they were brought in to provide a different perspective. But process improvement is also really important. A lot of people think technology will be that silver bullet to help with your modernization, and they forget about everything else. The reason why a lot of companies have come into this mess is probably because of the processes in place. But that could be because the wrong people were put in place. We never know.

How do you help your mentees develop a sense of purpose in their careers?

Top Answer: I look to Ikigai, because a sense of purpose is the true definition of it. But when I talk to my juniors I don’t typically stay within the principles of Ikigai. I define three overlapping circles. In the first circle I ask them to identify what they’re good at. There are a lot of people of all ages who are not able to identify their strengths. The second circle is what you want to do. What you are good at and what you want to do are two different things, but they can overlap in certain cases. A lot of people think that if they’re good at something, they will love doing it. But we often discover that our interests are in some other area. The magic happens when both of them intersect.  The third circle is very interesting, because it’s what the world wants. I have a daughter who's now working in financial services. When she was picking her major in college, I told her to make sure it was something she wanted to do, something she was good at, and also something that would allow her to flourish in her career. She was good at language arts, analytics, mathematics and statistics, so she picked up finance and accounting because that’s what the world wants. As another example, one of the reasons I went from telecom to healthcare was that I wanted to contribute to a social cause. In one program where I built the largest private cloud, it was very close to my Ikigai because the program helped that specific health insurance company adhere to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In terms of enrollment timelines and its societal impact, it helped a lot of uninsured people get health insurance. I could connect with that cause of helping people get their health benefits, which will help them access the medical procedures, facilities and care they need. Whatever program or project you are doing, regardless of the industry, you need to associate it with a cause that is very close to you. If you're working on an artificial intelligence program for a smart hub, then how can you make life simpler for people through that work?

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Were you interested in being a leader before you took on your first leadership role?

Top Answer: I was at Samsung for about four years, which is where I started leading a small team. I had no interest in doing it whatsoever, I just wanted to be in the data center. I trusted machines more than people at that time. It was my boss who took me under his wing and said, "You don't know what you don't know, but I'm going to show you what you need to know." I valued that a lot early in my career, and it taught me empathetic leadership moving forward. So my time at Samsung was pivotal, not only from a technology perspective but in terms of learning to work with and lead people to be successful in their careers. 

What led you to mentor or coach others?

Top Answer: I’ve been focused on the empathy component of understanding employees for a decade or more. Understanding what an employee needs is important to me because I was treated terribly when I was a consultant. I needed to position myself so that I could develop other people by understanding where they were and how to draw the best out of them. Being able to manage all of that is one of the most important aspects of finding the right channel for yourself. In recent years, I wanted to move away from being hyper-focused on my career to be more focused on achieving a real work-life balance. It required me to change my attitude, so I set three goals for 2020: to stay focused, be driven, and give back. Part of that was writing articles on career development. 

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Have you ever worked with a communications coach?

Top Answer: I'm engaging with a communications coach for two of my employees. They want to move their career forward, but they're deeply technical people who struggle with executive presentations. They were shocked to hear me say, "You have to have empathy for your C-level audience." I told them that was the best advice I’ve ever gotten, because a C-level executive switches context constantly. You need to have empathy for the fact that you have to give them a reason to engage. You have to make it simple, so you're not offending them by making them feel stupid. Then you need to present it in a narrative so they can put all the pieces together. You're doing them a service. If you know that old quote, "I didn't have time to write you a short letter so I wrote you a long one," in the case of executive presentations, you always have to figure out how to distill the short one.

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What tools have you used for tracking Skills Management at your organization?

Top Answer: Hard skills are easier to be tracked and measured. This would be the employee experience, certificates, projects deployed, training attended, proficiency in programming languages etc. This can be incorporated in any HR system in the employee profile so you can list/search and compare employees in case you manage multiple teams and a large number of employees. On the other hand, soft skills are a bit trickier to measure and assess. This is more subjective; experience and formal training can be an indicator.  I've been using https://goverb.com for soft skills and management training; you can pull reports on what training an employee attended. Again, there isn't always a 1:1 correlation; just because someone has been in management training doesn't mean they know how to manage people. I think that soft skills can be learned and can become your second nature if practiced regularly. I measure leadership skills from experience; seeing and observing employees' reactions in difficult situations or when the systems are down tells a lot about them. The employee's feedback tells a lot about managers. I have implemented Gallup-12 questionnaires to assess employee engagement. I don't think there is a simple tool to measure employees' ethics, creativity, resourcefulness, problem-solving, and accountability skills. It is more observational data through direct and indirect observation to answer empirical questions. It's good to have these listed in an annual/semi-annual review so you can track how an employee progresses over various teams and over the years.