Spotlight Series: Renske Galema, Area Vice-President for UK, Ireland & North EMEA, CyberArk

Renske Galema


Today, we sit down with Renske Galema from CyberArk. Renske tells us about her journey into tech, walks us through an ideal day at work, and shares her advice for other women in tech.

Renske Galema is Area Vice-President for UK, Ireland & North EMEA at Identity Security leader CyberArk. Renske joined CyberArk in 2018 to lead the sales function in the BeNeLux and Nordic regions for the company.

Renske works with some of the world’s leading organisations in their fields to safeguard their cybersecurity and digital acceleration initiatives, mitigating identity-centric risk to critical data and assets. In previous roles, she has held leadership positions with McAfee, Avanti and Telindus, amongst others.

How did you land your current role? Was it planned?

It certainly was planned because I have a big vision. I’m very ambitious. I had a big career in security already. Then I did an MBA and after that MBA I was actually setting out to become CEO or general manager somewhere. And that’s when I started to talk to CyberArk. But in that conversation, I already expressed my appetite to grow. So that’s how I started, first with the Nordics and BeNeLux and then the UK and Ireland, which is the biggest region in EMEA. So yes, it was planned and I am not done with planning.

Key roles and field of work?

My role is in three parts: internal, customer facing and partner facing. Internal is incredibly important of course, it takes up lots of time and process devoted towards, for example, planning out the year for success. But the other two are actually the ones I enjoy very much. I really like meeting with customers and at a more strategic level to understand how their transition looks, especially now that so many companies are opening up to public clouds. I also spend a lot of time with partners, as they influence our customers.

Do you have a role model in tech or in general in business?

I gobble up management books, I read a lot of them, and I had a couple of really good managers in my life, but no one individual per se. The things that I liked the most about these people. I have a strong moral compass, I’m a people manager. I was born with that. My role models taught me profound aspects of how decision making goes in a customer, how they come to decide that we will be part of their story, how we need to really need to understand their process, their way of thinking. In that sense, I have multiple role models.

What you’re most proud of in your entire career?

Specifically, here at Cyber Ark, I’m proud of the transformation we went through with a couple of customers really; highly regulated customers that wouldn’t think about anything but on-premises software and how we moved them to SaaS solutions, added  functionality and expanded their thinking. We made security an enabler for them.

Your average week

My ideal average work week would be meeting loads of customers and partners like we just did at a Gartner event for two days this week. And then a lot of being on the phone dealing with internal stuff. I push my team to meet new personas, but I also push myself, so as I write this, tonight I’m going to meet with KPMG as part of a women in cyber initiative, which is a great honour. Finally, I spend a lot of time growing my network.

Specific skills or traits that you notice companies look for when you’re searching for roles in your field?

It’s always about what are your results are in sales, and of course that is how I’m being measured, on bookings. So there’s that – people look for that. I get approached a lot for people that just need to have a female candidate, though. And I think, this isn’t really a good reason to talk to me. What I think is an important trait is people management: motivating people, creating a safe environment and over communicating. This makes a team work over time. SO just asking how many presidents clubs someone has qualified for and what your sales attainments are isn’t enough, but that is absolutely still the question that recruiters ask.

Has anyone tried to stop you from learning and developing in your in your career? Have you found the tech sector broadly supportive?

My career is more than 25 years long. One of my first big gigs was at McAfee or Trellix as it is now, and a completely different company. I learned a lot there. I had a lot of opportunities, but it wasn’t easy to break through the glass ceiling. I realised that I didn’t have all the possibilities that maybe one of my male colleagues had and I would never have had them. But right now, I’m in a totally different culture that is much more inclusive and supportive.

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career? Any tips to overcoming them or dealing with them?

My first question is always towards myself when something goes wrong? What did I do badly? I don’t think that’s unhealthy, in fact I think that if you always find that the fault is with others, you can’t adapt or change yourself. We are a 4,000 person organisation and people have different aims and priorities which need balancing. Everyone has anxieties. I deal with it by going for a walk or do some breathing exercises and try to realise that there is more to life.

Any words of advice for people that get overwhelmed?

Years ago, I had to write a really important but difficult email and I struggled with it. I just couldn’t find the words and then I went for a run around the park. Just a 3K run, super short. I came back and the mail was done in 15 minutes. That’s not me going for a run. That’s me stepping back. Stepping back allows you a different perspective. To back this up further; a failure from my side where I was so upset about something that happened with a customer, who accused me – wrongly – of something. At that time, we’re still faxing. I wrote this fax. I printed it. I sent it through the fax and halfway through I thought about trying to stop it. Was the message too much? And so, the best advice is in those situations is, step back. Nine out of 10 times you will come back to what you wrote and think ‘OK, well, I’m going to rewrite that’.

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in tech?

You have to really like tech. Because if you don’t have a passion for it, then find what you do have a feeling for and do that instead. The second thing would be to keep learning. My thing is management books but do any and all training available and also build your networks. However you identify yourself, have fun. That’s so important because you’re spending eight or 10 hours a day doing this.


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