Maya GershonMaya Gershon is the CRO at Vade Secure, where she is taking the lead in efforts to grow the company’s footprint in the U.S., UK and Japan.

Maya comes to Vade Secure with 25-years of experience in the technology sector, including time with Unit 8200 where she trained with the Israeli defence team and progressed to Staff Sergeant. Over the years, Maya has held a variety of engineering, sales and marketing roles at industry-leading organizations such as WeWork, Intel, Cisco, Amdocs, Keysight Technologies and more. Maya is a computer and electrical engineer with a strong technical background in R&D and product strategy and a Kellogg Business School graduate.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

When I was 16 years old I was identified by the Israeli Defense Force, and selected to join an elite cyber intelligence unit; I was drafted at 17. That’s when I fell in love with cybersecurity and technology. I’ve been a huge fan ever since!

I studied computer and electrical engineering at university, and then worked in R&D for eight years before transitioning to sales. I held various sales and sales management jobs, every time in a different market and with a different technology, to learn multiple technologies. I held sales roles on almost every continent, and managed teams world-wide.

Today I am the CRO of Vade Secure, a French company specialized in SaaS cybersecurity. Vade has a great product, superior from our competitors’. We block threats in the most attacked companies in the world, and protect over 1 billion mailboxes.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

“I did, in fact multiple times. I remember I first planned my career when I was about 18 years old and still in the army. I thought I needed to get more familiar with this area, so I took a course in university in advanced computer programming. I liked it. I made plans again when I graduated. And then, and this was the most important and probably the most difficult one  – when I decided to move from R&D to sales. I have re-done career planning multiple times ever since, and I try to help younger people to do theirs, and I do it often.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I have faced a lot of career challenges. From challenging managers, losing key deals, getting unpleasant feedback, and more and more. In my view, standing back up after you get hit is what makes you a professional. Keep going when it’s the hardest. When you feel it’s hard to get up in the morning, that’s when you show you’re a professional. You get up, and improve.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest career achievement is that once I worked for a company and grew their profits from 15% to 75% on $350M in revenue. That was a significant achievement for the company and a game changer in terms of growth.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Persistence. I don’t give up easily, or not at all and I keep going when it’s hard.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Learn constantly. The reality of today is going to be obsolete tomorrow. Try to anticipate the future, the next big thing. And it’s not only in technology, it’s also sales methodologies, Go-To-Market approaches etc.  Keep reading and learning and looking at successful companies, looking at new technologies. Know that the only constant thing is change.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I think there are, unfortunately. Women are not perceived at techies. I remember when I was a young salesperson, I used to go to meetings, and although I was also very technical, people always thought that since I’m a salesperson I don’t understand technology. I needed to be 10 times better than everyone else to gain their respect. So that’s what I did.

These barriers can be overcome by education in my view. Making more and more women understand they can be at least as good, if not better than men in Technology, would make more women follow that path, and make it more and more acceptable and natural for society.  When I graduated, the dean in my university asked the audience to clap twice as hard for every woman that came on stage, since we were only five women and 250 men. This ratio has got to change.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

I personally don’t see women as needing extra support from companies. I think that women should be treated equally. And that is actually the most important thing – equal treatment.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think it has a lot to do with education. I would go to schools and encourage girls at various ages and levels to learn technology. I would want them to see which areas interest them the most, and encourage them to be curious about those.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

To be honest, I never read or listen to anything specifically aimed at women, and maybe that’s the secret to success. I always read books that are not speaking to women or treating women differently. So if you want my (very general) recommendation on a book I like, it’s Unapologetically Ambitious by Shellye Archambeau.

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here