Arctic Wolf’s Women Transforming Tech (WTT) Pack Unity Alliance serves as our platform for women and their allies to build community, create strong professional networks, foster career development, and identify informal and formal ways that Arctic Wolf can be more inclusive in our cybersecurity industry. Today, we’re sharing the perspective of Trisha Farrow, our vice president of People, Pack Unity co-chair, executive sponsor of our Black Pack Alliance, and member of our WTT Pack Alliance.
Mentorship and networking can be instrumental in one’s career growth. Have you had mentors who guided you in your journey? How has networking with peers and colleagues influenced your career path?
I am a firm believer that one should never underestimate the power of networking and having a strong professional network. A well-respected leader in my life instilled this in me early on in my career, and it is something that I still believe firmly in today. I intentionally try each month to carve out time to maintain and continue to build a strong professional network and help others do the same.
Mentors have also been a key piece to the success of my career journey. I have had formal mentors within companies as well as many professional relationships which I view as mentors that fall outside of a formal mentorship program. Mentors have ebbed and flowed throughout my career. Once a relationship is developed, I think it is imperative to put the effort in to maintain and grow it. As I have navigated my career to date, I have always been intentional about having a couple of active mentors in place to turn to, whether it be for thought partnership, advice, or guidance. Two minds are always better than one! I also try to serve in a mentor capacity to two or more professionals in any given quarter and throughout the year.
I believe in the power of people. A strong network, mentors, and strong relationships can only yield to growth and personal development. As I have experienced personal and professional growth through these avenues in my career, I make it a priority to also pay it forward.
The cybersecurity field has traditionally been male dominated. Have you encountered gender-related stereotypes or biases during your career? How did you address these challenges and help break down barriers?
In my career over the past almost 20 years, I have experienced situations that one could perceive as gender-related stereotypes. I am a person that tackles those situations first by assuming positive intent, not harm, and I follow such situations with curiosity and ask what someone may mean by a certain comment or situation. Many times, I have found that by remaining curious and asking questions, people want to do right and are open to feedback. I often rest on, “when we know better, we do better.” So, if someone simply is not aware that their behaviors could be offensive, I do my part to seek to understand, lean in to raise awareness, and try to foster equity, inclusion, and belonging in all areas of my life. We have a really great workplace here at the Pack. We act with intention and have a culture that fosters equity, inclusivity, and belonging. I personally feel respected and valued for what I bring to the Pack.
I consider it a great responsibility to ensure every Pack member feels they can show up as themselves, be included, respected, have equitable opportunities, are valued, and can thrive in their careers here. Our Pack Unity program is a continuous journey where we focus on equity and belonging, increasing diverse representation at all levels of the organization, and community impact. When we make a mistake on this journey, we work hard to be transparent as well as follow up with action because, and I have said it from the beginning, we won’t always get it right, but we can’t let the fear of making a mistake keep us from doing anything at all.
Balancing a demanding cybersecurity career with personal life can be tough. How do you manage your work-life balance? Any tips for maintaining your well-being while excelling in your role?
I have a love/hate relationship with this question. I believe work/life balance ebbs and flows with the demands of a given project and/or the demands of home. I once heard an analogy of a stove with four burners, and each burner being a different area of your life. You can’t have all burners on high or you will burn out. Such is true in my life with work/life balance. When my career is more demanding and requiring more time commitment from me, I become very intentional that when I am home with my kids and husband, I try my very best to be present with them. I don’t always succeed in this, but I work in partnership with my husband to hold me accountable for not being on my phone during those hours from 6- 8:30/9 p.m. and being present with my kids who are 9 and 7 years old because if I blink I just might miss some very precious moments with the ones I love most. It goes without saying, but this is good daily practice and not just when work demands are high.
When my home life is more demanding, I develop a plan for how I will be the best mom and/or wife on the home front while still having a plan for success in my career. No two weeks will look the same. Sometimes I may need to work late at night or super early mornings, but with a plan, grit, determination, and a will to succeed, somehow it all gets done.
I think my tip here is to have a plan, be flexible to adapt your plan as needed, and most importantly be sure you are taking care of yourself so you can in turn show up as your best self for your team, your co-workers, your leader, and those you love most — for me, that’s my husband and children!
For women who are just starting in cybersecurity, what key advice would you give them? Are there any resources, communities, or strategies you recommend for a strong foundation in the field?
If just starting at the Pack, I think our WTT group is a great place to start! If with another company I highly recommend finding an employee resource group and professional networking groups, such as our partner WiCys, to join, meet, and learn from others, as well as expand your professional network on LinkedIn and start to build your brand.
I would also recommend taking the time to learn the business of the company you are working for, what are the products you are selling, what are the differentiators, what are the growth plans, how has the company performed to plan in the past and currently, and what are the 3-5 year plans for the future. Learning the business will only help you be that much more effective in your role and see how you and your role contribute to the greater success of the company.
Locally, there are many wonderful organizations to join, whether someone is looking to have a professional network of women, cybersecurity professionals, or one related to their specific profession. I encourage early career starters to identify people in their network that they aspire to be like and ask them what organizations and networking groups they are or were a part of or recommend. Not only will you come up with a fabulous list, but you will also learn a ton and build relationships along the way. At the pack we have many state-of-the-art and industry-best trainings, blogs, and podcasts for our Wolves to dive into and learn as much as they want about the field of cybersecurity and what makes being a part of the Pack special.
As experienced professionals in the cybersecurity field, what is your vision for the future of the industry? How do you hope to see it evolve, especially in terms of gender diversity and inclusivity?
I dream of a day where we won’t need programs such as Pack Unity and that organizations and companies within the tech industry mirror the world and customers for which we live and serve. There are many great organizations in place that are focused on these efforts, and I am grateful that we have a budget to invest in such partnerships in effort to intentionally move the pack forward on our journey. Some of these partnerships include: Black Tech Talent, Skillbridge, Mossier, WiCys, Blacks in Tech Foundation, and Minneapolis Business Coalition for Racial Equity, Empower Inclusion, MNTech, Project Success, Raices Cyber, and Smart North. We must not only do the work but invest in organizations that specialize in doing the work, link arms, and be in action together, because at the end of the day I know we are all stronger together.