Women in Security Feature: Stephanie Weagle, Atakama
By Cory Harris
As part of Security Systems News’ and the Security Industry Association (SIA) Women in Security Forum’s (WISF’s) continuing series highlighting the contributions of women in security, this month’s feature is on Stephanie Weagle, Chief Marketing Officer for encryption company Atakama. Weagle’s role involves “driving and executing the company’s go-to-market strategy, product and market positioning, demand generation, partner and field marketing, customer advocacy, strategic events, brand presence, and communications programs,” she told SSN.
The following is an exclusive Q&A with Weagle:
SSN: How did you get into and what inspired you to stay in the security industry?
WEAGLE: The vast majority of my marketing career has been in the cybersecurity, IT networking, and physical security space. I specialize in early-stage companies that are looking to accelerate market adoption and reach their fullest growth potential.
I did not start in client-side technology marketing. I originally set out to be a digital design and creative professional, seeking to build brands and develop B2C creative strategies. My career path took a detour early on after spending a couple of years on the agency side of marketing. My clients at the time were some of the largest high-tech B2B companies in the Boston area. I was inspired by the way they thought about delivering meaningful technology to their customers. It was through working hand in hand with these external corporate marketing teams that I decided to change course. It was an important lesson to realize that experiences in every role will shape you, build your skills and foster your career growth.
SSN: What has your journey been like in a primarily male-dominated and historically non-diverse security industry?
WEAGLE: Undoubtedly, there continues to be a lack of women in technology, and even more so in the cyber and physical security industries. Throughout my years of professional experience, the positive experiences along the way have far outweighed the negative ones as it relates to respect, collaboration, and the ability to pursue opportunities and take on new challenges. I have been fortunate enough to experience diverse workforces along the way.
SSN: What have you found most challenging working in the security industry and how did you overcome it?
WEAGLE: I have a passion for bringing disruptive, innovative technology solutions that solve real problems to life. There is a certain sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with scaling a business toward its greatest potential, while at the same time truly making a difference by delivering solutions that protect people and intellectual property.
The obstacles that I face have less to do with the professional environment, but more to do with breaking through the noise within the cybersecurity market. The cybersecurity landscape is extremely competitive. Whether it’s gaining mindshare or market share, or mastering your domain, it is important to listen. Listen to your peers, customers, partners, and thought leaders. Tuning into the voices around you and internalizing different points of view will enable you to excel in your craft, whatever that may be.
SSN: Have you had any role models who have helped you out along the way that you would like to mention?
WEAGLE: There have certainly been individuals who have made a significant impact on me both personally and professionally, whether it was taking me under their wing in the early days and building the foundation that I lean on today, or those who trusted me with a challenge, an opportunity, and allowed me to rise to the occasion. Even those who taught hard lessons, I am forever grateful.
I have also observed quietly, from a distance as teammates and leaders built their careers while at the same time starting and growing families. Observing that balance, and sometimes even the sacrifice that comes with the territory, has shaped how I find harmony between family and career.
There is also the unsung hero, the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of leading along the way. There is an instinct when you are one day tasked with managing people to “always have the answer.” One thing that I have learned through the team members I have had the pleasure of working with is that it is as equally powerful not to have the answer. If you have made the goals clear, and your support and guidance are unwavering, it becomes your greatest responsibility to empower people to reach their greatest potential.
If you are a woman in the tech space, whether you realize it or not, you are a role model. Others around you take note of your successes and your failures and use those experiences to shape their path.
SSN: What advice would you give other women thinking about getting into the industry or just starting out in the industry?
WEAGLE: There is so much opportunity in the cybersecurity space, both on the technology and innovation side, as well as the commercial and go-to-market aspects of a business where there are so many avenues to explore. I would also tell other women not to be intimidated. Just go for it, do not let self-doubt get in the way of passion or personal goals. Be confident in your voice and your abilities, and the rest will work itself out.
SSN: What are your views on the industry moving forward, both from a diversity perspective and a technology and business perspective during these unpredictable times?
WEAGLE: I can say without a doubt there has been a general shift to embrace diversity and introduce proactive programs to foster inclusion. It is important to recognize that supporting a gender-diverse culture is not about the number of women and men around the table, but also about breaking down barriers faced by both men and women in the workplace.
We have all been faced with challenging times over the last couple of years. From the pandemic to the hiring frenzy, to the recent and significant workforce reductions in the industry. One thing I can say is whatever obstacle stands in the way of your perceived plan, always know your worth, stay true to your values, and the rest will work itself out.