“Delivering value through technology motivates me – I want to make things better”

8th December 2020


Nelson Ronkin
VP Product Management, CyGlass

It’s been five years since I joined CyGlass, attracted to the start-up because they were using AI and Machine Learning to enhance cyber security defence. To be honest, I was sceptical it could be done. My curiosity got me through the door and I quickly saw how AI is just one part of the whole puzzle to build a solution that can cut through the confusion that cyber attackers create. When I joined, we were working on military contracts for the Federal Government and talking about making the product suitable for the commercial market. It’s been exciting creating that new product, particularly because we’re catering to Small and Medium Enterprises where there’s an opportunity to help so many more people and companies to stay safe. Delivering value through technology is what motivates me – I want to make things better.

My role as VP Product Management involves doing a bit of everything when it comes to the product. As is the way in the start-up world, you just step up and do whatever needs to be done. I oversee our products strategically, working with the engineering team daily to guide their progress and also keeping track of the market to ensure we’re creating something that meets the demands and needs, and can handle the latest threats potential customers will be facing. It’s busy – there is always a lot to get done – but it never feels stressful because I love what I do. I’m driven on by the challenge and fun of it all; I think the pressure is what makes it enjoyable.

I always knew I wanted to work in the tech sector and have been fascinated by computers and programming since my school days. My dad worked for RCA (Radio Corporate of America) on defence contracts for the US government. RCA provided our high school with access to computers – this was quite a few years ago, so we were really lucky! I was completely fascinated by what computers could do and immediately knew there was no other career path. I found out where the best place to study was – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – and that’s where I went. While I was at college the Internet really started to pick up in the academic world and networking was becoming a big deal and I found myself specialising in that. Most of my career has been in networks and network management; I’ve moved back and forth between big and small companies along the way, always seeking something new to learn.

My role choices have been led in part by a determination to enjoy my work and learn as much as a I could. When that was no longer the case – say I was encountering too much red tape or too many internal politics at a large company – I knew it was time to look for something new. That said, I did stay at the software company Courion for 17 years but doing a variety of different roles in that time: software development, customer support, professional services and cyber security in the CTO’s office. That broad base of experience has proved useful to my work at CyGlass today; I do whatever needs to be done and love seeing it all come together.

Working in the technology sector is enjoyable because it changes so quickly; you simply can’t get bored, with constant innovation and endless evolution, from the products and tools being developed to the way society uses them. It makes me laugh how now being a computer geek is cool – that certainly wasn’t the case when I was younger! But the most fascinating aspect of technology for me is the user experience: how do these digital solutions truly create value for a user and make a difference to someone’s life? I need to feel what I am doing is valuable and useful, tapping into the potential of tech for good and trying to minimise the bad that people will always find a way of using it for. However much digital development has happened in my lifetime, human behaviour never seems to alter, both the good and the bad side of it.

Creating value with what you do is something that I hope to have taught my kids. It’s important to be resilient, to quickly respond and adjust, making the best of the opportunities you have but also being driven to find a job that you can enjoy and that makes a difference. I won’t mind if my kids don’t end up in the technology industry; there are so many professions in which the outcome is making a tangible and positive difference. For me, this sector has just been ideal because it satisfies my fascination with the tech while still providing opportunities for having an impact on the world around me.  Nothing lasts forever, but I love what I do and feel that as long as I’m creating value, it’s what’s right for me.

Find out more about CyGlass on the website or get to know Nelson’s colleagues Josh Bregman and Ed Jackowiak on the blog.   

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