What are you responsible for at Georgian?
As the IT and Security Lead, I’m focused on three main areas. The first is building relationships with the chief information security officers (CISOs) across our portfolio and identifying opportunities where we can help them. In some cases that involves coaching and advising, while in others it means partnering together on deeper engagements.
I’m also responsible for internal security at Georgian, including for products like Georgian Grow, our product that uses a customer’s (portfolio companies) historical data to predict which contacts are most likely to convert so that their sales teams can spend time where it matters most. Beyond that, I also evaluate any cybersecurity companies in our investment pipeline and make recommendations to our investment team based on my findings.
What were you doing prior to joining Georgian?
I spent the last five years in a variety of IT and information security roles at PrecisionLender, a Georgian Fund III company, and subsequently at Q2 after it was acquired. Prior to that I spent a decade at First Citizens Bank, the largest family-owned bank in the United States, where I was instrumental in building out its enterprise risk management program. Having worked for PrecisionLender, I knew Georgian. So when the opportunity presented itself in February, I was excited to join the team.
Why is cybersecurity a priority for Georgian?
Trust is one of our investment thesis areas, which means that things like privacy and security aren’t just top of mind, but also core to our mission. We understand that companies have to earn the trust of everyone in their ecosystem, and that to do so they have to make strategic investments to address data concerns and be seen as reliable, fair and transparent. Cybersecurity plays a huge role in all of that.
Around a quarter of our investments are in cybersecurity-related companies. Given that the cybersecurity market is expected to grow to about US$376 billion by 2029 — that’s up from US$140 billion in 2021 — there’s obviously a huge opportunity for value creation, both for our customers and our LPs.
What are some of the big cybersecurity challenges you see from your vantage point?
There’s no shortage of challenges, but from my perspective working with Georgian’s customers, I’d say one of the biggest may be figuring out where to invest in cybersecurity technology when so many new platforms are emerging and displacing legacy point solutions. Working out how to adapt, respond and adjust your security posture is no small feat. All the more so with remote and hybrid work now the norm and with emerging technology trends like Web3 arriving on the scene.
You mentioned working with Georgian’s customers. Can you give some more specific examples of the value you deliver?
Our engagements with Georgian companies are pretty multifaceted. We’re working with one company, for example, to help beef up its security measures as it expands into the Chinese market. We’re helping set another up for success as it works to earn its ISO 27001 and SOC Type 2 certifications.
More often than not, though, a lot of our work is consultative. As part of our ESG initiatives, for example, we’ve launched a collaborative executive working group to combat cyber-risk. Our Cyber Initiative for Board Reporting (CIBR) is designed to empower cybersecurity leaders across our portfolio with the tools and skills they need to effectively report on their company’s cybersecurity objectives, systems and preparedness to their boards of directors. So far 60% of our companies have committed to working with the CIBR and we expect participation to increase going forward.
Do you think Georgian’s cybersecurity expertise is a key differentiator for the firm?
Absolutely. The work that my team does delivers tremendous value to our customers because it helps them level up in a number of different ways. Plus, there aren’t many other VCs out there that are able to evaluate investments in cybersecurity companies the way that we can given our deep understanding of the tools and technology. Not only does that impact which companies we invest in, but also which tools we wind up using ourselves and recommending to our portfolio.
What’s your impression of Georgian so far as a relatively new member of the team?
It’s been a great experience. I’m based in North Carolina and they’ve done an exceptional job of making the remote experience seamless. I’ve been to Toronto three times in my first five months on the job and feel very connected to the team. And, as I’m being brought into the hiring process for other new positions, what I find really striking is the care they take to find the right people. While they always hire smart, ambitious folks, cultural fit is just as important than the technical skills anyone brings to the table. The result is an amazing team where everyone truly enjoys working together.
And outside of work, how do you enjoy spending your time?
I’m a mom and spend a lot of it chasing after my three-year-old daughter. We live near the coast and my husband and I love being on the water, whether that’s boating, paddle boarding, or fishing. We also recently started raising chickens in our backyard, which has been an interesting little adventure!