Q&A With Kevin Gannon, New Vice President of Engineering, Cygilant: Building Remote SOCs and More
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Congrats on the join, Kevin. Why Cygilant, why now?
I’ve always been in the engineering space. From my early developer days in building custom solutions for customers, to working through payment gateways and next gen enhancements at Visa, through to building out a bitcoin start up. My latest adventure with PwC saw me embracing even more unknowns in the blockchain space – both from a technical perspective, but more importantly from an awareness perspective. Clients would ask – what is this blockchain madness and what does it mean for me? Being able to articulate this and its impact to client business has enabled me to lend more insight to bigger picture scenarios.
While I’ve been honing technical skills around engineering, emerging technology, and product, I’ve also been evolving my leadership skills and style to be better suited to run, lead teams and drive change. Equally, Cygilant has been looking for someone to take charge of engineering and drive forward their expansion and roadmap plans. It’s a big deal and I’m appreciative of the confidence Rob and the rest of the team have in me – and I’m sure it’s the right move, at the right time, for us all.
What are you looking forward to in your new role?
There’s quite a few things. Getting integrated with the teams and getting to know everyone is at the top of my list. Of those that I’ve met so far, there are a lot of smart people with a lot of drive. Everyone has been eager to help. I want to dig in on our offering and see how our roadmap is setting us up for success – between product innovations and strategic partners we have a lot in the works.
I’m very much looking forward to building out the team in Belfast – there is a mass of talent here. I’ve worked in many collaborative teams with so many smart people and I’m keen for that to happen with Cygilant too – bringing in people with the right mix of talent and diversity of thought to enable the right opportunities for the team to grow and succeed.
Any big goals in the first 90 days?
Having the right hiring strategy and starting to build out the team in Belfast is obviously a big one. Coming to grips with our current platform and capability and shaping that to align with our product roadmap is another. I’ve been wondering if I could suggest that our logo changes color to green, but that might take more than 90 days – only kidding.
Tell me about your experience building a SOC remotely. What were your biggest challenges? How did you overcome them?
There are certainly much smarter people in Cygilant you could be talking to around how we’ve been succeeding in that area. But certainly – having dedicated, smart people in your corner is a massive help. There are technical challenges, people challenges, and logistical challenges of serving a global client base. Sure, we’re needing to rearchitect the platform here and there, but it’s getting there.
We’ve been putting our heads together, during these crazy times, to overcome a lot of these challenges. I’d say that if we were all in an office, working face to face and side by side with whiteboards and discussion – it may have been easier (I still miss a good whiteboard session).
Hiring during these times has been tricky too – recent events have put people in a weird place, some people want to stay put for fear of the unknown, others are being made redundant due to business reasons outside of their control. On top of that, the usual physical interview and a handshake has disappeared and has been replaced with Zoom and a wave instead. But when you have a good idea of the type of candidate you are looking for – you can ask the right questions. We’ve been succeeding there too.
What advice would you give to others looking to build remote SOCs?
I’d say that building out anything remotely is hard – you’re remote, your teams are remote, your customers are remote. You need to be comfortable with being very hands on, coming to grips with all of the moving parts and ensuring that everyone has what they need. You (and your people) need to feel like you can try new things, fail fast if need be, learn and move on to the next thing.
People in teams need to trust that we’re all looking to move in the right direction. You need to communicate a lot; overcommunicating right now is a good thing, so that everyone has the best chance of being on the same page. You probably need to be open for debate. Disagreements will happen – voices need to be heard, decisions need to be made and ultimately everyone needs to commit to make it happen. There are trade-offs in everything we do; it’s all about understanding the impact and arriving at a consensus (ideally). Working together towards those common goals allows everyone to move in the right direction and reap the rewards together.
For more information on Cygilant, visit their website: https://www.cygilant.com/company/