Alan Cizenski is a Corporate Systems Engineer at Varonis. Based in our New York City office, he is responsible for making sure Varonis solutions work smoothly for our prospective customers. Alan helps them realize the value we can provide within their environment and maintain these relationships as they become customers.
He’s also a regular panelist for the Inside Out Security show. Listen to him on our most recent episode, Is Security a Benefit or a Feature?
According to his manager Kris Keyser:
“Alan’s a positive, hard-working engineer with a strong sales background, who is always ready to go the extra mile for his customers and managers. Starting on the sales side as a Territory Development Rep, Alan quickly moved to the Corporate Sales Engineering team and continues to excel in his current position as a Commercial Sales Engineer.”
Read on to learn more about Alan – this time, in his own words.
What skills do you find most valuable on a daily basis?
Three skills I use every day are investigating, active listening, and note-taking.
Listening and note-taking may not seem glamorous, but I have found them to be among the most vital aspects of my job in just about every business conversation. On a daily basis I work with customers and partners to solve problems, meet compliance, optimize operations, and protect the most critical assets organizations maintain. As you can imagine, we cannot be successful without actively listening to fully understand the problems and goals that need to be tackled. Throughout these active listening sessions, I take notes so that we can make an informed plan for success. Personally this allows me to keep track of who I am working with, what is important for their situation, the progress of what we are working on, and ease the load on my memory.
Listening and note taking helps me set up for success, but challenges and cyber threats will always come up. This is where investigative skills come in. Every day I spend at least an hour or two investigating an incident with a customer or troubleshooting issues. All the metadata in the world won’t help protect information or solve problems unless it is properly leveraged and presented. It is vital to accurately determine who, what, when, where, why, and how threats emerge to not only secure the present, but also to prepare for the future.
What skills would you recommend to someone looking to become a System Engineer in an organization like Varonis?
Outside of making sure that you have a strong technical understanding, I would definitely recommend working on those skills listed above – active listening, note taking, and investigating. I would also strongly suggest practicing succinct communication, objection handling, and presentation skills. Of course, keeping up-to-date with the latest security practices, classes, and certifications helps a lot too!
What skills do they need to learn to stay relevant in today’s cyber workforce?
Personally, I think continuous practice is the key to staying relevant in today’s cyber workforce. Job requirements of cyber professionals are constantly changing, so you must be able to adapt and learn continuously. People skills are also vital to today’s cyber world because the most effective strategies will have clear and open communication between users who own business assets and the team focused on protecting those assets. Make time to practice your technical and people skills because main differentiators for cyber professionals seem to be knowledge and approach. If you keep up with your knowledge and practice good approaches, you will always be in demand.
Also, learn how to use checklists!
How those skills will be applied on the job from professionals in the field?
Practice speaks for itself, but as an example – we have technical and sales certification quizzes at Varonis to ensure that we can do our jobs effectively. If you do not practice to maintain your skill set and incorporate new skills, you may fail your certification and become less relevant to your customers and the company.
I also stress the people skills because users of the assets we protect have the best knowledge of who should be using them, what is expected behavior, and most importantly who should not be accessing them. Cyber professionals need to be able to communicate with these users to receive and share insights for the most successful holistic cyber strategy.
Checklists changed the way I do everything from installing software to answering RFI’s. Simply checking off steps as I go through an install keeps me focused, ensures I don’t misconfigure something, makes technical challenges easier to address, and saves me a ton of time.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
How dynamic my role is. I get the opportunity to experience a lot of different aspects of Varonis; from product testing/development, to thought leadership on the Inside Out Security Show, to working with customers to close business and ensure customer success.
What would people never guess you do in your role?
People would probably never guess that I cold call current Varonis customers. I reach out to them to open the lines of communication, touch base on the products they currently have, and make sure they’re successful and happy. Then see if there is a potential for upsells.
How has Varonis helped you in your career development?
I have received so much guidance to become a better salesman, a better engineer, a better analyst, and most importantly a better leader. I am always asking for help to develop more skills for the future and the company has always been happy to offer it. Varonis has also taught me to laugh (a lot).
What advice do you have for prospective candidates?
Be ready to learn because things can move quickly. There are a lot of very talented people to learn from at Varonis, so prepare yourself to pick up all the knowledge you can to execute opportunities when they are presented.
What do you like most about the company?
The people…I know it’s cliché! The people here really are incredible though. I cannot overstate how instrumental my colleagues have been in my development as an employee and a person.
What’s the biggest data security problem your customers/prospects are faced with?
I would say the biggest challenge is how quickly threats evolve. Implementing new security practices is difficult and time-consuming – especially the kind of change a corporate culture that is typically required to protect data.
When programs are fully implemented, the attackers may have shifted tactics and organizations have to start from scratch, fighting a new type of threat. This is why user behavior analysis is becoming so important for insider threats.
Now for some Fun Facts on Alan!
What’ s your all-time favorite movie or tv show?
Twin Peaks, all the way.
If you could choose any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?
A nice boat with space to tie up a seaplane. That way, I could get a very cool perspective on the world and start every day with a swim.
What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?
A seaplane with pilot lessons.
Interested in becoming Alan’s colleague? Check out our open positions, here!