For this month’s leadership spotlight, we spoke with Jimmy Tsang, Vice President of Marketing at Pondurance. Jimmy embraces a “no fear” attitude and looks for that same unafraid character trait in job candidates. He believes taking on new responsibilities and challenges, even when they are outside the comfort zone, is a great way for employees to learn and grow throughout their careers.
How did you get into cybersecurity?
In terms of getting into cyber, it was really serendipity. It started off, coming out of business school, I was in a number of startups. I was really interested in mobile, so I actually joined a company called traffic.com, where they had mobile services as well as a sort of B2C (business-to-consumer) mindset. Traffic.com was actually acquired by Navteq, and Navteq is a global mapping company that was soon acquired by Nokia. That’s how I got into the whole mobile space, and this is when the iPhone, Nokia, Android started coming up. Then soon, I joined a company called Fiberlink, and they actually specialized in mobile device management. This is when we started to use iPhones and Android devices and basically our smartphones for work and that whole BYOD phenomenon, which is bring-your-own-device phenomenon. So, it’s sort of serendipity in terms of how I got there. Mobile device management is about making sure that the devices we use for work are secure and are managed appropriately by IT and the business. Soon after, Fiberlink was acquired by IBM, and I joined IBM Security soon after that.
I was in IBM for about eight years and really learned about cybersecurity all throughout, whether it’s data security, identity and access management, and then also threat management. That’s how I focused on threat management services, and that’s how I came to Pondurance, really understanding the threat management landscape, and that’s where a lot of our clients need help, as I’ve seen in the marketplace. It’s serendipity through acquisitions as well as just through my interest in the cyber tech space.
How did you grow into the leadership role you're in today?
I grew into the leadership role starting out of college. I was sort of thrown into the fire early on. I started off out of college as a chemical engineer. Coming out of college, I was optimizing processes, working on manufacturing operations, but soon after, after a year, I became a team manager. So I think my managers, my leadership, saw potential in me. I soon started managing teams quite quickly out of college. It threw me into the fire, as I mentioned, and gave me the experience, and it really gave me confidence to lead teams and manage teams going forward.
Throughout my career, I’ve been both a manager as well as an individual contributor. Coming out of business school, I focused more on learning my craft, which was at the time product management, and then I soon transitioned into product marketing. Once I really experienced product marketing, I loved it, and I got more in-depth into the skills and experiences of product marketing. Then, in product marketing, that’s where you start to develop the skills, and then you start to inherit teams and start building your teams. That’s where I started to continue to grow that, at IBM Security. So I went from product marketing to solutions marketing to content marketing, and through all those experiences and all the learning and trials and tribulations, I decided it was time for me to step up into a more executive role in marketing, a leadership role in marketing. And that’s why I came to Pondurance as VP of Marketing.
What was the biggest lesson you learned as you moved up in your career?
The biggest lesson — maybe it served many lessons as well — is really taking on new responsibilities and challenges. Don’t be afraid. Also, it’s important to say “yes.” Sometimes you can say: “No, I want to focus on a specific part of my career. It’s not in my wheelhouse.” But you really have to take chances throughout your career. Again, coming out of college and taking on a team, a manufacturing team, wasn’t easy. When I was at IBM Security, I took on content marketing, solutions marketing that was really outside the realm of product, but I knew that I wanted to grow my skill set, so I took chances. I didn’t try to stay comfortable, so it really allowed me to learn on the job. But it was great to have leaders, managers, and mentors that allowed me to do that throughout my career.
Why would someone be excited to join your team?
The first reason is they should be excited to join Pondurance because of our mission. Our mission is to make sure that every organization can detect and respond to cyber threats regardless of size, industry, or current in-house capabilities. That’s what brought me to Pondurance. That’s what resonated with me. Coming from a big corporation like IBM, we usually dealt with Global 2000 customers throughout the world, and at Pondurance, it’s about any organization, especially the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that really need our help in terms of cybersecurity, cybersecurity maturity, and being able to stop the threats that are giving them challenges on a daily basis. So they should be excited about the mission.
Next is that we’re a small team, so they can go from strategy to execution quite quickly. We don’t get bogged down by strategy, but our team gets into taking action, and that’s what’s really exciting about it.
And the last thing is around flexibility. Pondurance is a small company, but we’re also fully remote. Many of our employees are in Indianapolis, Indiana, but a lot of our marketing team is actually fully remote. They have the flexibility to work remotely, but we also get together, have meetings, and have team experiences where we get to have fun and laugh and enjoy each other’s company as well.
Do you have any advice for individuals who are starting out their careers?
The advice I would have — again, lots of it is from my learning — is no fear. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, new responsibilities, even new industries. Cyber is great. It’s a fantastic industry, but there’s a lot out there. If you want to be in tech, if you want to be specialized in specific areas of your skill sets, your experiences, that’s great, but don’t be afraid to try new things. I think that’s what allowed me to grow as a leader, as a marketer. Because again, I went from product marketing to solutions marketing to content marketing, and then now, I’m running a full marketing team, learning, again, areas that I didn’t have a lot of skill around or experience in, but building a great team allowed me to actually do that. So please, no fear. Your career is really a set of twists and turns. You can’t plan and map out your full career. It just doesn’t happen that way. Also, look to managers, look to leadership, look to peers and mentors for help, and I think all those tactics and strategies are what allowed me to navigate my career.
What qualities do you look for in people who are starting their careers?
The qualities that I look for in people first is: Have they shown leadership? Have they shown leadership whether it’s in their work experience or whether it’s in even the extracurricular activities that they’ve done in school or out of school with charities? It’s always good to see that people are proactive, take initiative, and are willing to take a leadership position. Especially starting out your career, you’re not going to have a lot of work experience, but there are different ways to show leadership and to show initiative in your activities. Also, I look for folks who are curious, making sure that they ask the relevant questions that really took some thought, as opposed to maybe just simple questions that you would hear at any interview. Ones that are relevant to my industry, my team, or my company are really important, to just show the curiosity there and also the ability to hear and listen and absorb. So through the interview process, as I ask questions or I answer questions, really just understanding my motivations, understanding where I’m coming from, and being able to respond in an intelligent and coherent way, and seeing that you’re listening but also that you’re applying what you know in that process.
And the last thing is for any employee that we have, any team member that I have on my team, is being engaged. Sitting forward and engaging and really engaging in every meeting, every call, not with just banter or just irrelevant type of conversations but really being engaged in every conversation, every meeting.
What are the opportunities today for people interested in a career in cybersecurity?
In cybersecurity, as I mentioned, there’s a lot of opportunity in the marketplace. It’s one of the fastest-growing tech sectors in the space. But cybersecurity is important for many organizations, whether it’s large Global 2000 enterprises or SMB type of businesses, as well as governments that are being attacked on a daily basis. There’s a lot of opportunity, and it spans across all types of roles, whether you want to join in becoming a security analyst, a cybersecurity analyst, being more technical in the space. At Pondurance, we also have consultants who advise and work with our clients to really shore up their cybersecurity programs, but we also have many different roles across sales, marketing, product, engineering, where there are roles related to building the services and the products that we need as a company. So it really goes across every business need, all these different roles. And there’s just a lot of opportunity in this space in the cyber tech industry.
What's the main reason someone should choose a career at Pondurance?
The main reason they should choose a career at Pondurance — I feel and this is why I came here — is the mission. Again, the mission to ensure that every organization can detect and respond to a cyber threat regardless of size, industry, or in-house capabilities. So really, it’s about the mission for me.
Obviously, we’re building a great team, especially in marketing, and we need really engaged and intelligent team players in this space. But in terms of Pondurance, we’re in a great space. SMBs need our help, the small and medium-sized businesses, and those small and medium-sized businesses are not just mom and pop shops. They actually could be large hospital systems that really need to keep their operations up. Otherwise, that could mean a patient’s life. It could mean supply chain vendors that supply our manufacturers as well as the retailers out there, and any disruption there can bring down an organization quite quickly. We’re trying to help all sizes of customers, and we feel that mission is really important for us, as well as for me personally.
What kind of mentorship opportunities are available at Pondurance?
New employees at Pondurance, especially those with less experience, are going to work very closely with those with more experience. Again, Pondurance is not a large company. We’re a fairly small-sized company. So what that does is really allows marketing or any type of employees starting out in their careers to work with those that have years or even decades of experience. We have quite a very diverse group at Pondurance, especially in marketing, so we have those that have decades [of experience]. We have those that just came out of college or came out of an intern program and had been only a year or two out of college. So you have a lot of those experiences mixed together with all those skill sets. What’s important is that everyone has value that they bring to the table and really to be engaged in. Those coming out of college will bring in their new ideas, their energy, their passion for what they’re learning, what they’re working on. Those with experiences will bring in what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and can really understand and guide those who don’t have as much experience as they’ve had. Lessons learned throughout life will permeate throughout the team, but I think having that diversity of experiences is what’s important for any company — and especially so for Pondurance as a small company.
Interested in joining the Pondurance team? View our current openings!
About the interviewee:
Jimmy Tsang has over 20 years of experience as a strong leader in content, solutions, and product marketing. He determines the strategy and execution of plans for the brand, including driving awareness and generating demand for Pondurance solutions and keeping the sales team equipped to meet clients’ needs. Before joining Pondurance, Jimmy led the marketing efforts for IBM Security, where he helped the company adopt integrated product and services security solutions and developed impactful marketing initiatives. Jimmy holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Yale University.
Jimmy is an avid tennis player, and in 2021, participated in the USTA League National Championships, where he and his teammates won the Middle States Section Championship.