By Sridhar Jayanthi, CTO and Head of Engineering, NightDragon
After finishing grad school in mechanical engineering with practically no programming experience, I apprehensively accepted my first job as a software engineer at a Boston-based CAD/CAM company. When my manager gave me a copy of “The C Programming Language” book by Kernighan & Ritchie and asked me to read up before my first day at work, little did I know that I had embarked on a lifelong rewarding software career path.
This path led me on an incredible journey for the past 30+ years. I have been privileged to lead dozens of successful products and high-performance teams in small and large organizations, including McAfee, FireEye, my own startups, angel investments, and more. Through each of these experiences, I’ve gotten to explore unknown landscapes, understand the dynamics of the ecosystems, and take bold steps to achieve success.
As one example, I first relocated to India in 2002 to establish McAfee’s India operations. I had never worked outside of the United States before and was given a goal to hire 100 engineers within the first few months. I quickly discovered that there was no readymade cybersecurity talent to be had there and we would have to build out the talent pool from the ground up and navigate the talent culture, technology import/export laws, and cross-country management challenges.
Fast forward to 2013, we had not only built McAfee’s largest operation globally of nearly 2,000 employees but also arguably created today’s largest cybersecurity talent pool in the world that went on to feed a vibrant cyber ecosystem in the region. Today, the overall cybersecurity market in the region is estimated to be $2.5 billion(and is expected to nearly double by 2028). And, for McAfee, this effort ended up being one of the top three reasons for the company’s turnaround and ultimate sale at a premium $7.7 billion to Intel.
I have also brought this experience to early-stage companies, including as an angel investor and co-founder of a cybersecurity startup, and having built two large organizations from scratch inside McAfee and FireEye/Mandiant. What’s clear to me from those experiences is that, while technology is key, success ultimately comes down to the people. The values that drive a founder can provide insight into the potential for success of a company.
I am now excited to now take this experience to NightDragon as the firm’s CTO and Head of Engineering, where I can apply it towards validating and investing in innovative startups, advancing portfolio technology strategies, and developing market-impacting service offerings. By bringing my technical and engineering capabilities together with the incredible operating power of the team, I know we can further accelerate our success in the market.
I am also eager in this role to reunite with Dave DeWalt, whom I was fortunate to work with for many years and whose tireless, results-oriented leadership style has shaped my management career. In addition, I look forward to working again with Ken Gonzalez and Morgan Kyauk, as well as with the rest of the NightDragon leadership team. I cannot think of a better leadership team in cybersecurity to pursue the next phase of my career, as well as work together on our shared mission to secure our world for tomorrow.
I am looking forward to starting as the CTO and Head of Engineering at NightDragon and continuing to grow the scale and scope of what it means to be innovative in cybersecurity. Please reach out at email@example.com if you’d like to connect.