In this edition of Life @ Netskope we sat down with Sri Subramanian, the Senior Director of Product Management, responsible for Netskope’s inline products. Sri has worked at various startups across the cybersecurity industry and joined Netskope in early 2019. Throughout her time in the industry, Sri has become very involved in mentoring and empowering women in technology and is an advocate for the power of building networks based on strong relationships. She was recently recognized on the 2020 edition of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Cybersecurity list.
What was your first day working with Netskope like?
So my first day at Netskope was in San Diego for a sales kickoff event last year before I even had technically started. Of course, I knew nobody at the time, so I walked in and just started introducing myself and I bumped into the marketing group first because they were managing the event and they were out and about. One of the first things I noticed about Netskope is that as a company, it’s a warm culture and the people are incredibly inviting. Immediately I saw people trying to make sure that I was included, introducing me to other people, and inviting me along if they were going to do something else. It wasn’t until late in the evening that I bumped into some engineering people. Then I realized many of them were people I’d crossed paths with at past jobs in the cybersecurity industry, so I kind of slid right in here. In a way, coming to Netskope felt like being back at home.
What’s your favorite thing about Netskope and why?
Absolutely the culture. I find it amazing that every conversation Sanjay has, whether it’s at an internal all-hands meeting or an EBC meeting with a customer, the first thing he brings up is how we value teams and culture. I think it’s a great practice because culture is one of those things that you can’t reinforce enough.
How did you get started mentoring young women working in tech?
I was first exposed to the power of mentoring and empowering other women in tech during my time at Oracle. My mentor at the time, Meg Bear, introduced me to a group called Oracle Women’s Leadership. Initially, I didn’t know how I would fit there or how I could foster anything with this group, but I realized that as women, we all had shared experiences. Those experiences help create bonds and networks, and ultimately help you build relationships. As someone who had primarily worked at startups before, I was struck by how at Oracle the senior leadership all seemed to know each other from the company’s early days and frequently leveraged those relationships to get things done. I realized that building a women’s network was not only helpful for me as a newcomer, but was also beneficial to the other women who did not naturally fit into the existing networks. It opened my eyes to how I could make a difference, helping other women succeed alongside me. And that’s very empowering!
How have you brought what you’ve learned through mentoring women in tech to your time with Netskope?
We have a women’s group here at Netskope called Awesome Women of Netskope, or AWON. At this year’s Sales Kickoff, we had an AWON lunch meetup, and I was asked if there was anything I could share with the group. I asked the group, “Has there been a time where you had a conversation with someone, a colleague, where they have discussed with you something work-related or otherwise that’s problematic that they’re trying to figure out?” And every hand in the room, from recent college grads to VPs, shot right up. And I said, “That makes each one of us a mentor. And it’s important that we recognize that.” Because mentorship is not something that requires a formal structure. I can have someone be a mentor to me and I can be a mentor back to them. That’s how we learn and that’s how we share. We have many women in tech who seek mentorship, and few who realize that they can be, and probably already are, mentors.
What advice would you give to young women looking to get into tech?
In general, I’d say, early on in your career, the more you can learn, the better. Don’t measure yourself by what you’ve done, what you’ve achieved, or where you’ve reached. Measure yourself by what you’ve learned. And grab at any opportunity that you have to learn something new. I feel like that’s what has served me in the end. I’ve rotated through different roles and every time it’s been with the view that in this new role, while I’m offering something to my employer, there’s also something here that I’m learning in return. If you find anything you’re interested in and have a way to learn about it while you’re working, then grab that opportunity. And every one of those learnings then takes you to your next opportunity.
What is something that excites you about your future with Netskope?
I feel like Netskope is on the cusp of something new that’s really important to the security industry and I have to be part of this journey with them. I’ve been in the security industry for a very long time and almost every decade there is a new thing that happens that shifts the landscape. I think the approach we’re taking to security is, you know, sort of layering onto existing approaches, but also pushing the envelope a little bit more. Just being part of that journey, figuring out what does and doesn’t fit, is all exciting on its own. There are very few opportunities where the market clearly needs something, and your product can really fit that need. I’ve only been in that situation a couple of times before in my career, and I think we’re there right now with Netskope.