Career Notes 1.15.23
Ep 132 | 1.15.23

Gene Fay: Lead from the front. [CEO]


Gene Fay: Hello, my name is Gene Fay and I'm the CEO of ThreadX.

Gene Fay: I think, uh, somebody born in 1969, you wanted to be an astronaut and a fireman and a whole bunch of other things. After getting over some of those ideas, for me, I remember thinking I wanted to work in an office. My mom was a nurse, my father was a security guard, but I always admired the people in a suit with a briefcase going to the train every day in, uh, in New Jersey, heading into New, New York. So I didn't know what it meant, but, uh, I knew I wanted to get into business pretty early on.

Gene Fay: I went to Northeastern University in Boston, and that was my first exposure into what business meant, and took classes in accounting and finance and kind of learned about marketing and sales and figured I like to be, you know, kind of out and about meeting a lot of people and that kind of got me excited about getting in sales.

Gene Fay: Right outta school, worked for a company called AVID Technology, uh, that was revolutionizing, uh, video editing and post-production for post-production studios as well as TV stations. So that was my first exposure into what technology could actually do to an industry, and to see these creative people start to think about what was capable or what they'd be capable of, uh, without the limitations of the current editing base that they were dealing with, uh, was pretty amazing. It was the first time I realized, you know, the power of technology and how it could revolutionize the world. So that got me really excited, then I moved on and worked for a large company called EMC, and off and on, since then, I've done six startups, so I've realized that that's really where my passion is. I love the early stage aspect of a company in developing a culture, uh, bringing on the initial team and, uh, ultimately starting to invent, uh, invent a company from near, near scratch.

Gene Fay: ThreadX, it's a combination of internal, uh, working with our team, which I absolutely love, and getting to know them one-to-one and the other end of it coming up with new technology ideas or new process improvement. So that's half my job, probably three quarters of my job. Uh, then the rest is externally focused, whether it's with our customers, which are really a lot of fun to work with and then dealing with the board and, um, making sure that their needs are served and their, uh, understand what our visions are, what our problems are, and getting feedback from them. So it's, you know, it's pretty diverse, but again, it goes back to my mindset, which is I enjoy having lots of different things and, and contact shifting from, from conversation to con conversation or idea to idea. Uh, it's the way my mind works. Uh, so I, I, I love my job.

Gene Fay: You can't expect people to do anything if you're not willing to do it yourself. I know it's cliche, but it's true. Be a good listener, whether it's to our customers or to our employees, and then build an environment where people can do the best work of their lives. I borrowed that from, uh, Michael Tiffany, one of the founders of, uh, Human Security, and it's something I've carried forth here. It doesn't have to be the easiest job they've ever had. It, it actually can be one of the most challenging jobs they have, but if it could be a place where they can do the best work of their lives, and not only get excited to tell their nieces and nephews and children, but tell their great grandkids about their journey at the company. If you're able to build a work environment like that, um, that, that's, you know, pretty fulfilling for me and I think that's for me, uh, pretty much the way that I try to lead day in and day out.

Gene Fay: Not, not every day's great, and not every morning starts out great. For me, uh, I apply what I call the George Washington Principal, and if you have read anything about George Washington, he really had two demeanors. He had the demeanor in front of his troops, which is, "Hey, we're gonna continue to head this direction till we have more information, follow me, I've got it figured out." And then to his brother, he was a little more open and said, "Hey, the troops are leaving and we don't have the supplies. We're outgunned. We're up against the, the best military in the world, and I don't know whether we can win this war." Uh, so it's kind of the two fronts, sometimes you've gotta put on the leadership face, and believe it that, that you can get, and we can get through any situation, cuz sometimes your, your gut feelings are, might be wrong and, or it's a moment in time and if you can help the team grind through that situation, it does get better. And I think that's for us as leaders, uh, the key to what we need to do. There are gonna be dark days, dark hours to dark months to dark years. Uh, and we as leaders have to help get through those moments so that we can get to the other side so that we can, uh, accelerate the business.

Gene Fay: I think cyber in particular offers a great opportunity, and I think the biggest hurdle that we have to as practitioners within cybersecurity is remove some of the mystique so that people understand that cybersecurity is a, a much bigger opportunity than just hands on keyboard, though that that is a large role for those types of people. They're critical in the process, but there's a whole ecosystem. I would say that for people that are trying to get in and people that are in here, we've gotta change the dynamics of what we're looking for. We lament about how there's three and a half million open positions, but yet every time we post a, a position we talk about even an entry level position, we would need a college education. We need two years of IT help desk and blah da da da. It's like, well, okay, that, that's limiting. So we've gotta open it up, be willing to train. Uh, being willing to mentor and coach, uh, cuz there are many great people out there. And, uh, I think that's, you know, it's, there is plenty of jobs for those that are willing to work hard to figure out how to get in and then come into an environment that's very dynamic. And, and if you're a learned person, you can do really, really well here constantly learning about new technology, new attacks, and new things that are going on. 

Gene Fay: I think about people that have worked with me that it was their first job outta school and then they got engaged, they got married, they bought a home, they had a kid. Uh, and then I, I was just a little piece of helping them, uh, get a job that financially allowed them to, or helped them to, to do some of those things. Um, that, that would be a great way to be remembered and equally not even including the, the great people that I get to work with. And I've been a part of the hiring process, but the people that I didn't necessarily know, but somebody introduced me to them and I helped them find a job, um, that that's, you know, I hope, I hope to be remembered to somebody that's gave back on a continuous basis to an industry, uh, in a country that's been absolutely phenomenal to me.