Céline GajnikCéline Gajnik is Global Marketing Director of leading Security operations Platform, ThreatQuotient.

As the Global Marketing Director for ThreatQuotient, Céline is responsible for handling the company’s marketing affairs around the world. Céline leads and works with a team of marketing specialists in developing and executing strategies that are appropriate according to the location and the culture of the different areas in which ThreatQuotient operates.

With over 15 years of experience in cybersecurity marketing, Céline is well versed in the different challenges within marketing. In 2005, Céline started her career in the marketing department of the value-added distributor Abbakan, a distributor which specialises in the marketing of cybersecurity solutions. Céline then joined Sourcefire, a network security hardware and software company as EMEA Marketing Manager. Sourcefire was acquired by the American multinational technology conglomerate Cisco in 2013, where Céline worked as EMEAR Marketing Manager.

Céline has substantial expertise in the functional areas of marketing including advertising campaigns, public relations, demand generation, digital marketing, campaign management, branding, partner and association marketing, marketing operations, advertising as well as market research, and events.

Here Céline tells us what motivates her and reveals her passion for solving problems through technology.

Can you tell us a little about your career journey and what first sparked your interest in working in the tech industry?

To the surprise of many, I didn’t start out in Marketing, and I initially started studying Law at University in France but discovered that it was not for me. I landed my first role in marketing when I was 22 years old and prior to that time I was working in a sports shop. I heard about a job advertised for a distributor in the cybersecurity market in France, which was looking for an English-speaking sales coordinator, who could manage SES as well as administration duties. At the time, it was not easy to find junior people who could speak other languages correctly and since I spoke both English and German I decided to apply. I was a little nervous about applying as I had no security experience, but the director of the VAD said, “I can teach you about security, but I can’t teach you the English language.” After spending a few years with that distributor, they opened a marketing department and offered me the role of marketing assistant and the rest, as they say, is history.

My path then crossed with Cyrille Badeau, who is our VP International at ThreatQuotient. In his previous work life, he launched Sourcefire’s French office in 2006. He offered me a role as a sales and marketing coordinator for southern Europe in 2010. Cyrille then moved to ThreatQuotient in 2016, and 1 year later I quickly followed him and others from Sourcefire, who moved to ThreatQuotient. It’s important for me to follow a team and follow projects so that is why I was so happy to follow Cyrille and Yann Le Borgne to ThreatQuotient, and I have been here ever since.

How much do you think the industry has changed since you joined?

The technology industry never stands still – innovation and rapid evolution are its trademarks. Compared to when I first started in the sector there is now a far greater focus on implementing technology strategically and understanding where your solution fits in the digital ecosystem. It’s not just shifting product; it is educating customers on the value and relevance of your solution. Without generalising too much, I think women’s skills in storytelling and drawing together multiple perspectives is more valuable than ever in this kind of market.

However, unfortunately, I must highlight that today you still have far more males at the executive and senior leadership level compared to females in this industry. Even to this point in my career I have never had a woman as a direct manager. However, with that said, I have been able to work with women in senior leadership roles – notably here at ThreatQuotient.

If you could give one piece of advice to a female starting their career journey in tech, what would it be?

A young Céline was crazy enough to start this role without having any idea of what it actually entailed. So that’s what I would say, do not think “technology? No, that is not for me, it will be too tough, and male dominated.” You shouldn’t put barriers on your career as a result of fear and stereotypes. You should embrace the unknown and look forward to the challenges ahead of working within this growing and interesting sector.

If you had to pick one mentor who has had the biggest influence on you, who would it be and why?

If I can, I would like to choose two. My previous boss at Cisco and Sourcefire, James McNab, is someone that has been a great mentor, having been instrumental in giving me the chance to take my career to the next level.

A second would have to be Cyrille Badeau, he has also been particularly important for my career and still is. Cyrille is always the one I call whenever I have doubts about whether or not I am doing things right, or if I ever have a question about my career direction. So, I would say they have been the two key mentors for me up to this point.

In your experience, does being a woman in your profession come with extra challenges that you have to overcome, for instance others doubting your ability?

Many people outside this industry may think it is full of geeks and not a perfect place for women, but that is all wrong. You can have your place in different roles, you don’t have to be a developer or a threat intelligence analyst if that is not your goal or desire. You can be part of this industry doing what you like to do and in all my 15 years within the tech industry, I have never felt that I have been judged for being a woman in this space and it is such an interesting and dynamic market.  Also, women’s solidarity in this space has grown over the past several years thanks to campaigns like Women in Cyber.

What attracted you specifically to this role at ThreatQuotient?

First of all, the people and the project were the main reason. I already trusted our executive leadership team; I had known them for a while, and they are people that I respect and who respect their employees.  Marc Solomon has been my CMO for 11 years and will continue to be for several more, I hope. I was confident in his vision and on his way to support and engage his team. The super challenge when I joined 5 years ago was that we had to write everything from scratch from a marketing perspective on Brand recognition, Market enablement of a niche product and expanding to new countries; that is what I love to do, to work with the sales team to see how we can support them depending on the maturity and the culture of the country/ market.

What are your key goals in 2022 at ThreatQuotient?

With the adaptation to virtual activities that we have had over the past 2 years, within my team, we want to reconnect with people in person. For example, in France, we had a few opportunities in Autumn to attend in-person events once more, and that made a difference in building relationships. It was great to exchange project information and to evangelise around the Cyber Threat Intelligence market in person. So, finding the right balance between what we had and getting back out to meet people is one of our key goals to leverage ThreatQuotient in our key markets which are TIP, SOAR and XDR. We feel this need around several services at ThreatQuotient and also with our customers and partners. There is fatigue surrounding virtual events, we won’t fully back away from them for global activities as we cannot be everywhere physically, and the digital presence is such an important component to our marketing strategy today. However, we need to re-evaluate the best way to market our solutions and continue to strengthen our account-based marketing approach in alignment with a more traditional approach.

Give us a fact about you that most other people would not know?

I do not like chocolate! It might be crazy to most, but I cannot stand it. I used to work near a chocolate factory and even the smell was not good for me – sorry!