Meet Liz Bush, Director of Product and Partner Marketing, ThreatQuotient, a seasoned product management and marketing professional with over fifteen years of product management, program management, and product marketing experience. In this Q&A, Liz Bush talks us through the positives and challenges of her career journey so far and gives advice to other women seeking to get into a similar role within security. Liz has an impressive track record that includes Director of Product Management of Threat Intelligence Services at iSIGHT Partners and Senior Product Manager at FireEye Inc. Here she reveals that her drive and passion is centered around the feeling she is making an impact on a day-to-day basis in the cybersecurity space.
Tell us about yourself and your background?
I studied Criminal Justice at university, so not the usual career path into marketing. After university I worked at a few different non-profits in the DC area before a friend recruited me into a technology company. I started my career in technology as a project manager and then moved into product management, I was working for a very large company but I decided that was not really for me. I then started working for smaller and smaller companies where I felt I could make a position impact, this led me to my first cybersecurity company, iSight Partners. I then moved into Product Marketing at ThreatQuotient.
How did you land a career in Marketing security and what led you to ThreatQuotient?
I worked as a product manager at iSight partners with Jonathan Couch. He went over to ThreatQuotient and he and I would talk about my career and the potential and growth of ThreatQuotient. When Couch came to me about a potential marketing position, I said to him well, ‘I’m not a marketing person, that’s not my job’. Although, as a product manager for small companies, I also was involved in a lot of product marketing responsibilities because there are either not enough marketing people available, or the marketing people were not up to speed on my products. So, I did many of the marketing tasks. I was very open about the fact I was not a full-time marketing person or had a traditional marketing background. The ThreatQuotient team felt it was good for me to be able to pivot over from product management and I decided it would be a good challenge to take on something new.
Do you feel like your background, which isn’t a typical background, helps you to do your role?
I think that my background helps me a lot, since I came from a product management background, I use those skills and apply them to my product marketing role. I want us to be educating the customers about the problems we solve and our benefits, and be as straightforward as possible when we give that information, whether that’s on our website, in a thought leadership paper or any sort of content we provide.
We know there are no typical days in security, but can you tell us about what a day entails in the ThreatQuotient business for you?
I’m responsible for the strategy and production of all of our content. I always have about 50 documents open on my laptop at any given time that I’m writing, editing or planning, so there’s a lot going on. On a daily basis, obviously, I have many meetings with our team to talk about schedules, promotions and product release information, as well as working with our product management team.
Have you had a mentor throughout your career?
My first mentor would have been one I had in college. I worked for a very large company in their intellectual property office in Washington, DC and I reported to a woman who was just a really great example to learn from. The company was very male-dominated and she was the only woman I had any interaction with. She taught me “How to be the only woman in a very male-dominated area”. In many of my jobs going forward, I was in groups where I was the only woman, so it has really helped. More recently, it would be Jonathan Couch; he has been my mentor in the cybersecurity industry. Anytime I didn’t understand something, and needed more information, I would just go into his office and say, “okay, explain this to me, I don’t get it”. He is always there to help me from both a personal and career perspective.
You have had more male mentorship over the years. Do you think that hurt you in any way or helped you? Or do you think it is unimportant to have specific female role models?
I think if you find the right one, whether it is a female or male mentor, that’s what is important. I’ve developed a network of women over the years that are not necessarily mentors, but peers. I’ve kept in contact with them and we act as mentors for each other. These are women that I’ve worked with in the past and work with now, we call and text each other about things going on in our jobs, careers, career moves, etc. It’s helpful to have a group of women you can rely on for feedback from a career perspective.
What excites you most about security and do you see yourself working in the future for security companies?
I really enjoy being in the cybersecurity industry and I would like to stay here and I definitely do not see myself leaving the technology industry. I like the focus on cybersecurity, and I think it’s always changing. It also makes me feel a little bit like I am taking advantage of my criminal justice degree, so it has not completely gone to waste!
Are you excited by your roles? What excites you most about cybersecurity and your role within ThreatQuotient?
I like working for a start-up, and especially in the cybersecurity world, because things change frequently. And with a smaller company you really get the opportunity to make a positive impact on the business and industry. Working at a large company you finish a project and move on to the next without knowing how or if it impacted the business. Having a positive impact on the business if very fulfilling from a career perspective, especially in the cybersecurity industry.
What pearls of wisdom would you give other women trying to get into a similar role, within the security industry?
Don’t be afraid to give your opinion, your point of view is valuable. If you disagree with someone, learn how to tell them in a productive manner. People won’t always agree with you but you can give a different perspective. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and responsibilities. It’s ok to say “I have no idea how to do that but I’ll figure it out.” That’s how you learn and grow.