Hannah Mayersbeth, MSP Sales Manager at Mimecast on cybersecurity, inequality and why more women should get involved in this sector.
In cybersecurity women only represent 20% of the workforce. Here Hannah Mayersbeth, MSP channel manager at Mimecast, has become one of the rare female leaders in this industry.
PCR caught up with Hannah to talk about how she has cut a path amidst this predominantly male dominated work place and encourages more women to do the same.
Please can you tell me a bit more about Mimecast and your role within the company?
Mimecast is a cybersecurity provider founded in 2003 with roots in South Africa, specialising in email and web security. My role at Mimecast is MSP Channel Manager. I’ve been in the role itself for about two years, although I started in the marketing team – a completely different department to where I am now! Within my role I lead a team of Partner Account Managers and our primary focus is supporting Mimecast’s Managed Services Provider partners. We help them to offer a personalised service to our mutual customers identifying any that may be experiencing challenges or worries when it comes to their organisation’s communication and web security.
At the heart of my team’s role is relationship building – we communicate regularly with the company’s existing partner base, seeking opportunities to educate and support them whilst expanding our relationships.
What is your background within the tech channel?
My first role in the cyber security industry was at Mimecast and I kind of fell into it by chance! I wanted to join an exciting company that had real growth potential, that would enable me to build a long-term career and which provided an interesting product that was innovative. I also wanted it to be one that I believed could make a difference to people and organisations. I had no prior IT, security, or channel background before joining Mimecast, but quickly developed the knowledge and essential skills as a Business Development Representative. From there, I progressed through to Channel Sales, and eventually on to lead Channel Account Management Teams across both Reseller and MSP businesses. I have been at Mimecast for 8 years now and am still as excited about my future prospects as the day I started, and as the company continues to innovate and grow!
What is your view on inequality in the channel?
I am definitely an advocate of gender equality, especially within any workforce. I think it’s a shame that many women are disadvantaged based on their sex. More needs to be done to make sure women have access to opportunities within male dominated industries, like cybersecurity and the channel specifically.
In my experience I am fortunate because I can honestly say that I don’t feel my treatment has differed from my male peers. I believe that overall success in the channel is heavily dependent on strength in relationships and delivering a world-class service to your customers, so gender or any other personal factors really shouldn’t matter.
How can companies look to create diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
There are several things that companies can be doing to help create a more diverse and inclusive workplace – particularly when it comes to gender diversity. Having inclusion networks such as groups for women and non-binary people within a workspace can really help to create a sense of belonging, particularly in larger, male-dominated tech companies. It also allows employers to create safe spaces where women can share experiences with and learn from one another, which is important.
Similarly, having access to something like career coaching can help provide the clarity employees need when it comes to their career path and where they want to go within a company. Such coaching should be goal orientated, which will give female employees the tools they feel they need to carve their space within the industry.
What’s your view on showing authority in a ‘boys’ club’?
Although I’ve not experienced many in my role – having a zero-tolerance approach to any gendered double standards or microaggressions is important – whether they’re being directed at myself or other women around me. I think this draws boundaries, letting those around you know that you won’t tolerate sexism, and that assertiveness not only shows authority but, helps to gain respect.
How do you go about managing an all-male team?
My first tip in this regard is don’t let your gender be a barrier to your success. Be confident that you have been chosen for your role because you have the relevant expertise. I’ve had to remember this when stepping into this managerial role, otherwise it’s very easy to become doubtful of yourself! I think regardless of gender, one thing can always help when managing a group of people – being eager to learn and always striving to be a better leader. I always need to ask ‘what can I be doing to better help my team reach their full potential?’ Particularly as we’re working remotely now and my team is spread out across different locations, I’ve had to be insistent on investing time in each employee so I can check in on their wellbeing and development.
How can women look to gain credibility in the cyber channel?
Aside from my personal experience, I do know that there is still a perception that females may not be as credible as their male peers in the technology sector. In 2021, the number of female employees in this sector is on the rise and I know plenty of incredibly talented women working across both cybersecurity and channel industries, so this is clearly only a perception and not a reality. In other words, I don’t think women in the channel should be the ones working hard to gain credibility. It’s rather the perception of females in the industry and any incorrect misconceptions about us, or our work that we need to work on erasing.
Did you have any role model to help you become the leader you are today (both female and male allies)?
I have been extremely fortunate to have strong leaders, both male and female, during my time at Mimecast. Having a very powerful and inspirational female leader and coach in my time has indeed given me the confidence to follow in her footsteps, challenge myself, and aspire to go further in my career. I think every women needs such figures in her life, not only are they there along your journey pushing you to do your best, they can open many doors for you and potentially change the trajectory of your career in any sector.
Has the attitude towards gender equality improved or is there still a long way to go in your view?
We still have a long way to go – recent figures show that the cybersecurity industry is currently only 31% female. However, I think we’re taking steps in the right direction – there has, for example, been a growing focus from the UK government and several organisations to get more women into STEM occupations and studying related subjects at university. We just need to make sure nothing hinders that progress.
What are the three tips you would give to aspiring women in the cybersecurity channel today?
- Go for it! If you’re not already in cybersecurity and it is something that interests you, you should go for it! It’s a fun, fast-paced, exciting and high-growth industry that is constantly evolving and filled with opportunity.
- Mentors are important. Find a mentor or coach, male or female (or both!), and leverage their experience and networks to help with your personal and professional development. LinkedIn is a great place to start for this.
- Always challenge yourself – in this fast-paced industry, it’s very easy to get caught up in the day job and forget to invest in yourself. Set yourself at least one goal each year to achieve something new towards your career progression, whether it’s presenting at an event, attending a course, learning about a new technology, or expanding your peer-to-peer network outside of your organisation.
Read the latest edition of PCR’s monthly magazine below: