Connie Matthews has worked in the cyber security/technology industry for over 20 years. She has worked with hundreds of global, small, and medium businesses to build their information security programs and help organizations understand their risks around People, Processes, and Technology. As a frequent speaker at security conferences around the US, she enjoys discussing building solid teams and security programs.
Connie is very passionate about giving back to her community. She is a founding member of EmpoWE-R Women of InfoSec (a non-profit to raise funds to encourage women to have careers in security). An advisor to high schools and colleges to develop their information security programs. She has served on the Central Ohio ISSA Board for 16 years as president/special advisor and a co-chair for chapter leadership for ISSA International.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Connie Matthews: My name is Connie Matthews; I have been in the technology industry for over 20 years and can’t imagine doing anything differently. My company works with organizations to build strategic training programs and consulting in cybersecurity.
I’m super passionate about giving back and paying forward. I volunteer for various organizations; President of Central Ohio ISSA, Co-Chair for ISSA International Leadership, Founder of EmpoWE-R Women of InfoSec (encouraging and providing scholarships to women in the Mid-West), Advisory Board Roles for Schools, and Executive Advisor for Netskope (Cyber Security Company).
I also spend time mentoring and coaching people in my industry and encouraging women and minorities to consider a job in InfoSec.
I love spending time with family and friends, especially my husband and two fur babies. I enjoy college football (Go Buckeyes), music, art, and theater, to name a few.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Connie Matthews: For my company, Covid gave me a lot of time to reflect and think differently about what makes my company relevant. I think the biggest thing is to constantly challenge yourself to be relevant and be open to pivoting as the world changes around you. As a leader, always put your People first! Always be self-aware and open to change.
As a leader, be transparent, lead by example, praise in public/constructive feedback in private, and show empathy. We have all been through a lot; showing grace and understanding goes a long way.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Connie Matthews: Customer service has always been important, but I genuinely believe relationships have become crucial to your business. Many company owners/CEOs put their needs first, and I have always believed when your people are your priority, everything else falls into place for you to be successful. I held a leadership position when I was 23 and asked my Dad (a fantastic leader) what makes a good leader.
His advice was this: Never forget where you came from. Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself, praise in public, and give constructive feedback in private (when they walk out; make sure you provide them with a message of what they are doing right and leave them feeling like they can overcome their struggles), as a leader you’re only as good as your team and to be humble. I lost my Dad over four years ago, and I genuinely try to live my life in honor of his advice and leadership.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Connie Matthews: Cyber security has always been important, but priorities have changed in how organizations need to think differently with remote workforces, the rate of breaches, and ransomware impacting the profitability of companies.
Security professionals must understand their business and what priorities of executive leadership are essential in helping them keep their companies safe. Training has moved to blended learning solutions and pivoting from traditional in-person/instructor-led to more on the virtual side.
One of the most significant changes I had to make was finding solutions that I could still provide quality training virtually.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Connie Matthews: To continue to be patient, as a new business owner, you always want things to come faster than they do at times. I genuinely believe life things happen when they are supposed to, but having patience sometimes can be challenging.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Connie Matthews: I think we will always embrace virtual meetings moving forward; over time, we will land more of a hybrid workforce, but technology will set us all up for success. Flexibility and thinking differently are essential as we move beyond the last few years.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Connie Matthews: It varies; I meet with my clients quite a bit face to face. I would say, on average, I spend 20 to 25 hours on my computer.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Connie Matthews: I try always to be collaborative, let everyone have a voice, respecting and embrace different perspectives. I believe diverse teams improve when they come together to produce better outcomes. It’s so important to be respectful to each other regardless of the background and experiences they bring to the table.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Connie Matthews: I think finding the right talent and making sure as a leader you’re doing what you can to keep your people.
As time progresses, figuring out what motivates people and how to do you find creative ways to keep everyone engaged.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Connie Matthews: I love learning; I’m fortunate I work in an industry that constantly is changing and evolving. I have always been a sponge and love to be a continuous learner.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Connie Matthews: Self-Awareness is probably one of the essential characteristics of a genuine leader/person. If you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, it’s hard to make changes.
Here are some general tips:
- People first
- Be Empathetic
- Be a good listener
- Lead by example
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Connie Matthews: This is a hard one – Maybe to read minds – to help me to understand better what people are thinking to provide the best solutions I could for them.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Connie Matthews: My goals have always been to impact and change people’s lives for the better, help organizations provide impactful training and development to their teams, improve the overall security posture, and offer consulting services that align strategically with their mission. Being profitable so I can continue to change my teams and my life positively.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Connie Matthews for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Connie Matthews or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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