E7 - Stuart Borgman at Palo Alto Networks

Stuart  Borgman

By Stuart Borgman

On today’s episode of our Security Vendor spin-off series, we were joined by our host, Jake Brown and our special guest, Stuart Borgman. Stuart has had an impressive career in the Security space, previously working for some big names such as Palo Alto and Juniper. Over the last 3 months, Stuart has taken a career break to enjoy life outside of work but had the pleasure of watching Palo Alto grow to be one of the world’s largest Cyber Security Vendors.

When he moved into the market, Cyber Security wasn’t even on his radar. He was interested in tech when he left school but at that time, didn’t really know what he wanted to do other than knowing he had an interest in Engineering. He went to work for Shell working on control systems, he touched on his early knowledge of computers during his time there. An opportunity came up which was transformational for him because they were really moving forward with IT, and he started to understand this whole new world of Telecommunications. Shell was using every form of tech out there at that time which he found fascinating. He ended up rolling out Cisco Routers into Shell where he started to get hands-on with tech.

Working for Shell gave him a few lessons. 1. How doing good IT projects can drive down costs in a business and 2. Tech is really behind innovating organisations, which is really important. His career in Networking started up from there and the rest was history.

When looking for his next career move, he wanted to go and work for a Vendor that focused on tech and was very much IT-related. He loved working for Shell, but they were an oil company, not a tech company.

The reason behind his transition into Security was that cybercrime and the challenges around cyber have grown exponentially and a lot of the tech challenges out there now are cyber security. That’s where a lot of the innovation is going, so why wouldn’t you want to be part of a growing and incredibly exciting industry?

Stepping into management…

Stuart never saw himself as the manager kind of person. But halfway through his career, he was working on a piece of business that was growing and someone asked him if he wanted to go and build a team. Although stepping into management was a huge move, that didn’t stop him from being hands-on. His role consisted of 50% tech and 50% management. It was a huge transition because there were things he had to stop doing.

Defining a good manager

Being a good manager takes work and dedication. Stuart read the book One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard. In the book, he talks about management by the situation. Everyone is an individual, when you work for your team, don’t assume they all have the same personality type. Manage them individually based on their own personal traits.

If you’re looking to get into the space, Stuart’s advice is you need to have a sense of curiosity. Those interpersonal, communication-type skills are the most important to have. When he interviews people, they don’t always have the skill set he needs from day 1 but it’s incredibly hard to find as the market changes so fast. The chances that someone will have those skills from day 1 are slim so if you come with the soft skills, the rest will follow.

Tune in on 14/02/2023 to hear the full episode!