For this month’s leadership spotlight, we spoke with Lyndon Brown, Chief Strategy Officer at Pondurance. Lyndon’s career path started with a curiosity about video game technology, and that curiosity led him to a successful career in cybersecurity. Today, Lyndon looks for that same sense of curiosity, as well as raw aptitude, attitude, and humility, in candidates seeking a career at Pondurance.
How did you get into cybersecurity?
It started with my entry into technology, and that happened at a pretty young age. I remember playing a video game on the computer, and I pressed the wrong button and ended up seeing a whole bunch of code on the screen. Being curious, I started modifying things and broke the game initially, but then it was fun trying to put it back together and trying to make the game do things that I wanted it to do. That’s how I became interested in technology, and security was a pivot from there. Attackers often want to gain access to systems and have the systems do what they want them to do. So, I took that experience and worked at an early dot-com company when I was in high school, which was a really cool experience. From there, I had a number of roles of increasing responsibility related to technology and cybersecurity.
How did you grow into the cybersecurity leadership role (Chief Strategy Officer) you’re in today?
Over time, I’ve sought out roles of increasing responsibility. I started my career as an engineer, an individual contributor working on some really tough challenges, but I always have been motivated to lead teams and drive them toward really hard goals. That’s how I ended up going from being an individual contributor to increasingly moving into management roles. My current role is an awesome opportunity to combine a lot of the functions that I’ve done in the past, which is a combination of product management, marketing, and partnerships.
What was the biggest lesson you learned as you moved up in your career?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, especially being in technology and being in cybersecurity, is that the pace is just so fast that you’re not an expert for very long in anything. You always have to be motivated to go back to the well and learn. There’s always these principles that are durable, but as far as staying up to speed and up to date, you must be humble enough to not be afraid to learn something new, to be uncomfortable, and that’s something that is important in any role nowadays, in terms of how fast things are moving and changing.
Why would someone be excited to join your team?
Pondurance is a unique company, and every day I’m excited to log on to Zoom or go to an office. But what really makes it unique is that, hands down, cybersecurity is the most exciting sector to be in today. There’s not a day you don’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper and see something related to cybersecurity.
As it relates to Pondurance specifically, we’re taking a very unique approach to the problem. We recognize that it’s not fair to just wag your finger at a company and say, do better in terms of security. We want to be a helping hand, and we have a team of experts who work closely with organizations to improve their security. Not only do we get to bring awareness of the problems related to security, we’re actually able to help customers along the journey and make them sleep better at night. As it relates to company culture, the team is filled with intelligent, fun-loving, hardworking team members, and that makes it a really cool environment to learn something new, share what you know, and solve some big problems together.
What advice would you give someone who is interviewing with you for an open role?
There are a number of key things that I recommend any interviewee do. The first is immerse yourself in trying to learn more about the organization. I don’t believe that people should just apply to a bunch of companies. I think they should pick the companies that represent the space they want to be in, the market, the area that they want to focus on, and the culture that they’re interested in being a part of. From there, by digging deeper, they’re able to walk into a conversation with me or someone else on the team and have a better sense of what the company is and have good questions that can help fill any gaps that they weren’t able to discern from just viewing material online.
As another big tip, think about the job description, think about the role, and think about how you would uniquely contribute in that role. As we know, every role has many applicants, and the applicants that are able to really communicate and convey how they would be a unique and special candidate for the role are the ones who have the most success.
Do you have any advice for individuals just starting their careers?
I would say that it’s very easy to look at anyone in a career and kind of create this narrative looking backward of how this move enabled that move, and it was all a perfect story. But in reality, there’s a lot of just figuring it out and a lot about opportunities arriving at the right time. Don’t feel like when you get into your first job you have to know what the path looks like or have it all figured out. I would say that whatever role you’re taking, especially if it’s a first role or an early role, look at it as an opportunity to learn and identify and find things that you don’t currently know you need to learn. That’s really how I would optimize early on in my career. Optimize for learning and improvement, and the rest will fall into place.
What qualities do you look for in people who are starting their careers?
There are a number of skills that I look for. Number one is raw aptitude. I measure that by the person’s ability to learn new things, drive results, and have impact. That can be from someone who has been to a four-year school or someone who hasn’t been to a four-year school. Does the person have the right attitude and the appropriate aptitude to actually get things done? Does the candidate have the humility to acknowledge what they don’t know but have confidence in what they do know? I think those two things are tough to balance, but I think that’s what makes someone a top performer, the ability to really double-down and execute on what they know but also have enough humility to expand and grow and to acknowledge, hey, I need to get better in this area. Then, the final piece is curiosity, being able to ask questions about the market, about something you’re working on, and seek out solutions that maybe everyone else wouldn’t have sought, but things that could be from a different domain or company or ideas that can be brought to the table to drive the mission forward.
What are the opportunities today for people interested in a career in cybersecurity?
There’s tremendous opportunity. It’s a growing market, and a lot of cybersecurity sounds very technical, and it can be in many ways, but there are also a lot of roles that don’t really require a heavily technical background to be effective. Some of those roles are related to doing threat detection and response, so working in a security operations center and helping a client have that 24/7 visibility across the environment. There are other roles that are related to building solutions, automating some of those processes, and driving some of those outcomes. Also, there are other functions that help organizations like ours let clients know what we do and help clients be successful with our technologies and our solutions, and those functions can span marketing, sales, partnerships, and engineering and technology.
What’s the main reason someone should choose a career at Pondurance?
Pondurance is uniquely applying human expertise and human intelligence to help organizations stop cyberattackers from stealing data or impacting businesses. And our unique culture as it relates to growth, as it relates to opportunity, as it relates to challenging projects — but also the ability to look across and get a helping hand when you’re trying to solve a hard problem — is really something that makes us unique.
We’re an organization that really focuses on looking for employees with low egos and high humility, and we’re focused on driving teamwork and collaboration across teams. We say we’re a very flat organization, meaning anyone can call anyone, ask a question, and not feel shy or ashamed. We’re mission-focused, so if you care about helping organizations reduce their risk to cyber threats and you care about working and doing it in a culture that promotes collaboration and promotes results and focus, we are the organization for you.
What kind of mentorship opportunities are available at Pondurance?
I look at mentoring as both informal and formal mentoring. As an example of informal, many of my mentors don’t even know they’re my mentors, but I love to leverage conversations with them or leverage things they write or post to learn and enrich what I’m doing. As formal mentoring, there are many opportunities within Pondurance to see and work with individuals who, maybe from a career perspective or a broader life experience perspective, have walked the path or have accomplished things that an individual wants to accomplish. Being able to reach out and say, “hey, I’d love to chat with you, would love to talk through some of the things that I’m thinking about or some of the projects that I’m taking on”, that’s something that we actively promote across the organization.
What growth opportunities are available at Pondurance?
One of the unique things about Pondurance is that we actively promote from within. We actively work with and see the talent within team members, and we’re very much a meritocracy where they’re able to take on new challenges and take on new goals to grow their responsibilities. That’s something very unique to startups and very much cultivated at Pondurance. We’ve had many individuals join as interns and grow into really essential roles in the organization across the incident response team, across marketing, and across other functions as well.
Interested in joining the Pondurance team? View our current openings!
Chief Strategy Officer | Pondurance
Lyndon Brown brings a career focus in building high-growth technology companies to Pondurance where he is responsible for Product Management, Corporate Development, Marketing, and driving cross-functional performance. Prior to joining Pondurance, Lyndon served as Vice President of Business Development at FireEye Mandiant, where he focused on strategic growth initiatives. As an executive, Lyndon has successfully led product management, M&A, and global partnerships at firms such as Verodin (acquired by FireEye) and Endgame (acquired by Elastic).