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Being a professional woman in a male-dominated industry can feel intimidating. However, according to our latest interview, you can make your place anywhere with a supportive environment and lots of self-confidence.

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We spoke to three women employed at Tenable, the Cyber Exposure company, about how they’ve thrived in technology. Their advice, and insight into what it looks like to support women in the workplace, is required reading for women in any male-dominated industry — especially women who are looking for a place to nurture their careers.

How long have you been in your current role and what were you doing previously?

Kay Cee Drass: I have been a regional sales manager at Tenable for two years. Prior to that, I worked for Check Point Software Technologies (based in Tel Aviv, Israel). During my tenure, I held a variety of roles, including leadership roles.

Giuliana Carullo: I am a research engineering manager at Tenable. I have over 15 years of software engineering experience, and I’ve been doing research for over seven years, five of them in the InfoSec area. I’ve authored 15 research papers and five books. 

Natalie Goodman, Director, Global IT Support and Asset Management: I’ve been with Tenable for just under four years. I started at Tenable as Help Desk Manager, then I took on IT asset management and procurement as well. Recently, I became a director of global IT support and asset management. I worked as an engineer at my previous company.

Have you always felt supported in your career by your team or management? How did you find the right environment to lead you towards success in your professional life as a woman?

 Drass: When you have a career that spans decades, it’s very unlikely that you would have support all the time. So, no. Early in my career, I took a role in NYC working for a Wall Street firm. I was once called a “rent-a-babe” while dining in the VP cafeteria. I was wearing a conservative (and expensive) business suit and dining with my peers. I left this job, company and industry. I moved over to Tech Sales and have never looked back. Later in my career, I can say I have found support from my team and my management. I just try to surround myself with the best people possible.

 Carullo: I can bet no one feels 100 percent supported always — male or female. And this holds true for me. However, I am grateful for each bit of it. I like to say that all the experiences I had thickened my skin — a lot. It is all about how we respond to situations and if we can get the best out of it. 

Throughout my career, I have changed my mind several times about what having a mentor means to me. And I do think receiving support has several facets: it can be in the form of being encouraged by a manager or a peer, as well as in the form of learning something new from others and from experiences.  

 Goodman: For the most part, I’ve been a member of great teams and I have had some really good mentors. The best support I have had was in the various forms of opportunity managers provided me — allowing me to attend training, listening to my concerns, allowing me to implement my ideas, supporting a high performance culture and demonstrating that they care about the success of their teams as a whole.

 How do you help women in the workplace advance their careers?

Drass: I do a lot of mentoring. I have worked with men and women alike and across industries. I have taken a vocal role in getting women to talk about money. We need to talk amongst ourselves so we go into negotiations knowledgeable, confident and willing to ask for what we want and deserve. I’m trying to remove the taboo of talking about money in these relationships. I also spend time talking to women about the non-salary benefits, because these things are important in women bridging the gender pay gap.

 Carullo: As a leader in the industry, it is my job — and pleasure — to be as bias-free as possible. What I see when I look at my team is success. I prefer to see people for their strengths. Weaknesses are only a vehicle for helping them to become even better. And when you can help someone — even a little bit —  to become the best version of himself/herself, you succeeded in your intent. At the end of the day, being attentive and really caring for peoples’ needs and being available for help is the best we all can do. It is not a one-shot program, it is a continuous process. 

 Goodman: It wasn’t until I was a manager that I believe I was able to have a significant impact in supporting other women in this way. I promote training, I have always hired a diverse team and I try my best to make sure that superior performance is recognized.

 How and why did you first get involved in Tenable’s women’s network ([email protected])?

Drass: As soon as I heard it the group was being formed, I signed up immediately. I am enthusiastic about contributing all I can to Tenable as a company. Having a workplace that supports capable women will certainly make Tenable formidable in the marketplace.  

Carullo: Have I already told you that culture at Tenable is awesome? No matter what role you are in, you will receive quick help and get quick introductions to the ideas and people. This is how I’ve been introduced to [email protected] as well. Everyone is welcome and discussion is open in a casual setting. 

Goodman: I first became involved with [email protected] through my participation on the Diversity and Inclusion Council. I got involved because I want to make sure there is a forum for people to build each other up and exchange great ideas. I am always looking for an opportunity to learn from others.  

How have you been able to gain support from the Tenable community?

Drass: I received unwavering support from my manager, Shawn Sands, when my father passed earlier this year. He was not only understanding, but he helped me navigate the time off and juggling meetings and jumping in to cover my team. 

Carullo: I’ve been working at Tenable for a bit more than four months. I am impressed by how easily everyone is accessible across the company. At Tenable, we have Executive Roundtables each month — [email protected], [email protected] and, of course, [email protected] — so there is plenty of support across the globe for those who are interested in being a part of support groups. 

Goodman: The [email protected] group has been very supportive and senior leadership at Tenable has been supportive as well. What I liked most about our first [email protected] event was that men attended. We are all in this together and having the support of a diverse group of colleagues is what builds a great company.

What advice would you give to women who are early in their careers or are looking to switch into a new industry that could be more male dominated? 

Drass: Go for it! I would say don’t let anything hold you back. You were hired for who you are and what you can contribute to the company. Do that and you’ll find respect. Don’t try to fit in. Just be you. We spend so much time thinking about what makes it hard to be female in a male-dominated industry, but there are advantages, too!

Carullo: No matter what your passion is, if you truly like it, you’ll find a way. Oftentimes we limit ourselves with fear: don’t! Go for it! In a few years, you will be so proud of how much you were able to accomplish by being determined. 

Goodman: If you are early in your career, learn everything you can about the industry you want to be in and start thinking about the direction you want to go. In a male-dominated industry, you might feel intimidated. But I’d recommend that women remind themselves of their skill sets and understand that they belong.

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