For this month’s leadership spotlight, we spoke with Ron Pelletier, Founder and Chief Customer Officer at Pondurance. Ron supports the company’s open door culture to foster collaboration, camaraderie and trust across teams. He believes that initiative counts and encourages employees to fearlessly pursue their career goals. Learn more about his experience in cybersecurity leadership roles.
How did you get into cybersecurity?
I am an English major, that was my major in college, and I had thought at the time that my career was going to be in the U.S. Army. I was an ROTC graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, and I thought the military was going to be my career path. I think it was probably no more than six months in that I realized it’s probably not going to be my career path, but I was looking for something to gravitate toward and specialize in, and IT was certainly growing and becoming a more and more integrated part of the business operation. I found myself with an opportunity, in service still, to develop a disaster recovery plan for a particular major command within the Army, and that gave me a flavor, a taste, for that career path. I took a job out of service in 1999 with Ernst & Young. I joined the global business continuity team. That allowed me to further my path into not just business continuity and disaster recovery but to get into other facets of risk analysis that involved looking at security controls and understanding technology and how it integrates with the business and how it can be secured to facilitate the safeguard of assets and information systems.
How did you grow into the cybersecurity leadership role you’re in today?
In 2008, I founded the Pondurance brand. I operated solo for a couple of years until I found some others in the marketplace who were also embarking on their own enterprises. It was a great opportunity to pull resources together, to grow competencies, to be able to grow the market. So that’s how we started to grow, and it was a group effort. Around 2014, Landon Lewis, the now Chief Technology Officer, and I made the decision that we’re going to move the business forward and look at doing managed services in addition to the advisory services that we had been traditionally providing and still provide to this day. Being able to co-lead with somebody you can trust and understand and complement, that’s a great thing. Landon and I’ve always had that relationship. Then, Dustin Hutchison, now Vice President of Services and Chief Information Security Officer, entered the picture too. It really was a threefold leadership team that was able to move the needle forward to where we needed to be. It was great to have that relationship so that we could always rely on and backstop each other. The market of cybersecurity and the need to continue servicing our customers really helped us all grow and continue to lead. And now, I’m happy to say that I have become the face of the company in a lot of ways for existing clients, making sure that they feel like, as we grow and we expand, we’re not leaving them behind. We’re pulling everyone forward with us so we continue to do great work, not just for new clients but for the existing clients as well.
What was the biggest lesson you learned as you moved forward in your career?
I think the biggest lesson, especially when you get into the top leadership role, is that you make decisions that are best for the company, but you always have to keep people in mind. You can’t make decisions in a vacuum. You have to understand the implications of your decisions. What is it going to do to your customers, to the people that you trust to deliver great service? You have to keep them in mind, but at the same time, you have to do what’s right for the business and for everyone to continue moving forward.
Why would somebody be excited to join your team?
For the last 10 years or so, Pondurance has been a perpetual startup. Now, that may sound chaotic, but what’s really exciting about that is that we’re always in development mode of some sort, always moving fast, and that creates a lot of opportunity for creativity, for a lot of people to jump in to influence and effect change, to become part of something and stand out as well as become part of a great team and demonstrate success. So that’s the exciting part.
The culture we build here is a culture of team, a culture of camaraderie where everyone celebrates wins, no matter how big or small. Everyone’s looking out for each other, and everyone’s always available to help one another. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a different department because we can communicate freely, openly, and in a very integrated manner. There’s a great level of transparency at all levels in the organization and that fosters trust. It also fosters initiative and allows people to understand how they can make a difference within the organization, within the team.
What advice would you give someone who is interviewing with you for an open role?
I would tell anybody that initiative counts for everything. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be afraid to operate within the scope of your role to achieve things, to move the needle forward, to not always have to ask for things.
The second thing I’d offer is to use all the resources at your disposal and accomplish the mission in the best way you can. Don’t be a hero. Don’t try to covet victories to try to portray self-worth. Be able to champion others. It’s a very satisfying feeling to be able to trust people, work with them, and see it through. It’s a very great feeling.
Do you have any advice for individuals just starting their careers?
Know what you want, know what you want to get out of it, know how to get there, and know who your mentors are that can help get you there. Now, you can’t rely on a single person to move you forward; you have to be able to demonstrate. But don’t try to forge your own path if there’s already a path there. Get information, talk to others who have had success in the role that you want. Being able to get that advice from them is really key. So that’s what I would say to anybody starting their career path. Also, don’t be afraid to specialize. Being a specialist becomes an excellent part of the team, a very valued resource. You can broaden later, but specializing early is not a bad thing.
What kind of mentorship opportunities are available at Pondurance?
We’re a very inclusive and open culture. That means so many great things, the best of which is being able to step across lines of business to be able to talk to anybody, to be able to collaborate on things. One of the strongest cultural traits that we have here is that everyone’s door is open and that everyone invites you to have a conversation, ask questions, no matter what the topic is. We’re all integrated in some way. We all touch the same data at some point, moving toward the same goal, so being able to make sure that you understand 360 degrees what the mission is and how you can affect that is important. So, yes, being able to talk to anybody in the organization is very much something that Pondurance encourages.
Interested in joining the Pondurance team? View our current openings!
Founder & CCo | Pondurance
Ron Pelletier is the original Founder of Pondurance, having started the company from his basement in 2008. Ron has over 25 years of cyber security advisory experience. He started his career as an officer in the US Army, followed by nine years with Big Four firm, EY. As a strong consensus builder and customer advocate, Ron is focused on evangelizing the Pondurance brand as well as customer success.