‘My journey has defied the traditional path typically associated with cyber company CEOs’
Building a company is a difficult task. Whether starting their own or growing an established business, these leaders have made a name for themselves as some of the best of the best. So, what makes business leaders tick and what are they aiming to achieve when all is said and done? We spoke to Shirley Salzman, CEO and Co-Founder of SeeMetrics, about her journey in business.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
Throughout my career at Logic, an Israeli technology company, from 2012 to 2015, I faced the significant challenge of being the only woman on a male-dominated team. Despite my equal contributions, I sensed that my male peers received better compensation and benefits. Determined to address this inequality, I gathered evidence and took the company to court after it shut down in 2015.
Despite facing formidable management denying the wage gap, I persisted for five years, eventually winning the case. This victory marked a significant milestone, as I became the first woman in Israel to successfully win a lawsuit over lower wages compared to my male counterparts. My determination and fight were driven not only by seeking justice for myself but also by paving the way for women to demand equal pay for equal work.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you first started out?
One crucial aspect I wish I knew before starting out is the necessity of unwavering tenacity. Venturing into entrepreneurship, particularly without a conventional background, inherently involves going against the norm. Overcoming frustration and persisting despite countless rejections and setbacks proved challenging. Despite the rough moments, the immense satisfaction of breaking barriers and pushing through the glass ceiling is immeasurable. This unwavering determination has been instrumental in my journey.
Did you always want to be a business leader or did the desire develop over time?
As the CEO of SeeMetrics, a cybersecurity start-up, my journey has defied the traditional path typically associated with cyber company CEOs. Unlike many in the industry who have a cyber background, often gained through service in specific military units, I came from a commercial marketing background. While this may have been unconventional, it turned out to be a strength, as my unique perspective led to a deeper understanding of the need to bridge the gap between security leaders and their senior stakeholders, which is a challenge we are directly addressing at SeeMetrics.
During my previous roles, I worked closely with CISOs and recognised a clear validation of the necessity for better communication between security leaders and executives. This communication gap hindered security teams from confidently conveying the value of their cybersecurity programs to the broader organisation and the board of directors.
Motivated by this challenge, I co-founded SeeMetrics with my partner, Shay Haluba. Our goal was to provide CISOs with data-driven insights that would enable them to effectively communicate the performance and value of their cybersecurity programs. We identified a critical issue: CISOs lacked centralised access to performance insights compared to the insights that drive their peers in sales, marketing, finance, and other departments.
Cybersecurity teams face an overwhelming amount of data generated by a multitude of security monitoring solutions. Consolidating this data into a single source of truth, known as a security data lake, was a complex and arduous process. Once the data was collected, it needed to be normalised and standardised to create a cohesive and comprehensible story about the organisation’s security posture.
What is your top tip for other business leaders?
My top tip for business leaders is to embrace the concept of “Hevra,” where a company and society are interconnected. While I don’t equate the workplace to a family, I recognise its role in fostering a positive and friendly atmosphere. This internal engine of positivity drives employees to excel. Our offshore team, particularly our committed Ukrainian team, is an integral part of our organisation.
We prioritise their needs, even in challenging circumstances, ensuring they have everything required to thrive, whether in Ukraine or as refugees in Europe. Building a supportive and caring workplace enhances team commitment and overall success.
What are your plans for the future?
In the realm of cybersecurity performance management, SeeMetrics has witnessed a paradigm shift from manual to automated processes. While traditional methods involved time-consuming surveys for data gathering and analysis, we now offer automated insights that provide real-time, aggregated performance information.
Collaborating with a financial institution, we recognised the challenges posed by a mature security program with diverse security tools resulting from rapid growth and mergers. This organisation struggled to gain a clear understanding of its operational performance due to legacy tools and a lack of infrastructure for measurements. To address this, we offered them automatic and ongoing insights, enabling easy collaboration within the security team and better management of programs. Moreover, simplified communication with senior stakeholders empowered them to grasp the cyber team’s actions and benchmark the company’s standing effectively.
As the cybersecurity management field is still evolving, my future plans entail further transforming it. SeeMetrics aims to equip CISOs with a powerful tool to measure their performance comprehensively, ushering in a new era of efficient cybersecurity management through data-driven insights. We envision an industry where continuous measurement and analysis become the norm, empowering security leaders to make informed decisions and proactively safeguard their organisations.
What would you like your legacy to be?
My legacy will be a commitment to justice, unwavering in the face of injustice. I believe in not turning a blind eye to the wrongs we witness, for “if you tolerate this, then your children will be next.” I aspire to inspire others to stand up against injustice and create a better world for future generations.
What makes a great business leader?
A great business leader displays keen market awareness and fearlessly takes initiative. Alongside my co-founders, I established SeeMetrics to support CISOs in proactive cybersecurity management. We capitalised on our individual strengths, prioritising data-driven insights.
We engaged security leaders, building a robust Advisory Committee with industry luminaries like Sounil Yu, Jason Chan, Rafael Franco, Julie Tsai, Frank Kim, and Yael Nagler. Gartner’s recognition of our category “Cyber Performance Management” and being listed as a sample vendor in their Hype Cycle for Cyber Risk Management further validated our vision. Securing $6m (£4.8m) in seed funding from prominent VCs like Work-Bench, 8VC, AGP, Essence VC, K5 Global, and Verissimo contributed to our continued success.
Effective leadership lies in recognising opportunities, fostering partnerships, and addressing industry needs with determination and innovation.