Why the VP of Engineering at Living Security Went From Investor to New Hire

Written by Alton Zenon III
Published on Mar. 26, 2021
Why the VP of Engineering at Living Security Went From Investor to New Hire
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Brian Wood recently experienced an uncommon role change at Living Security: He went from early investor to new hire. 

Wood said the strength of the co-founders’ vision propelled him to invest in and advise the cybersecurity company when it launched in 2017. But it was the blend of technical expertise and steadfast compassion of the team that motivated him to take a more hands-on role as VP of engineering three months ago.

“As a full-time team member, I’ve seen a different and much more impressive aspect of the business: Living Security’s people,” Wood said.

The company provides a cybersecurity training platform that helps organizations reduce human risk by educating employees on best practices through gamified learnings. Over the years, Wood watched the company scale its reach and land clients like Target, MasterCard, Verizon and JP Morgan in a market that’s expected to grow from $150 billion in 2018 to almost $250 billion by 2023, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. The team has grown to more than 50 employees today, with around 25 more developers expected to join this year.

Beyond the company’s notable scale, Wood said the team’s desire to give back to the community through charity work following the February winter storm in Texas was just one of the reasons he wanted to make the transition from investor to full-time employee.

In his new role, Wood will scale the engineering team and inject the company’s new human risk management platform with improved data capabilities. The leader said the same vision that enticed him early on will keep the team aligned as they work toward increasing their market share and achieving their mission of putting an end to cybersecurity breaches in enterprise organizations.

 

Living Security austin VP of Engineering Brian Wood
living security
Brian Wood
VP of Engineering • Living Security

What is your team working on these days? 

We are building on our foundation in the cybersecurity awareness training space by creating a new platform that expands our vision to support an entirely new category, human risk management. The new platform builds on our existing security awareness applications by rapidly developing layers of data and analytics. This data layer, which we refer to as “Unify,” is made up of dozens — which will someday be hundreds — of data sources. The cloud-native system and user-level data, combined with our training applications, equate to a unique and powerful offering for enterprises around the globe.

 

How would you describe the culture of the Living Security team overall? 

Compassionate, innovative and driven to succeed. Our company is full of people ready to sacrifice for the sake of others. For instance, one of our UX leaders shared a story of a child battling cancer, then our team launched a fundraising campaign to support him. The team also supported our hurting neighbors during the tough February winter storm through the non-profit org Love Thy Neighbor.

I see us as innovative because Living Security is full of domain experts who are leaders in their respective areas and are constantly finding new ways of solving problems. And we’re driven because we’re serious about getting work done and meeting deadlines while maintaining a fun environment. 
 
There’s also a level of transparency that starts with our co-founders Ashley and Drew Rose that helps everyone on every team understand our collective goals and how we are working to achieve them. As team members, we understand that we are contributing to something bigger than the task in front of us. Each employee is critical in achieving our mission and everyone is able to have authority over their work and know that what we do has an impact.

 

More from Living Security:Living Security Raises $5M to Gamify Cybersecurity Training

 

What tangible goals are you hoping to accomplish with a significantly larger team? 

The investments we are making are directly tied to the need expressed by our clients as we work side by side with them. Our focus is to build, extend and harden our Core and Unify platforms through application and data pipeline development, system integrations and interfaces that provide great user experiences. So we’re looking for a number of strong data, architecture, integration and application engineering partners to join our team.

 

What recruitment strategies are you implementing to seek out candidates from diverse personal and professional backgrounds?

We begin by being intentional, because we have to be. Building a diverse team in homogeneous domains like technology or entrepreneurship requires concerted effort. We work with recruiting partners to seek out individuals that might not otherwise find us. We also leverage our existing diversity by connecting with diverse networks of candidates through our own people.

The journey from investor and advisor to employee has been fantastic.”

 

What has your journey from investor to leader been like?

My wife and I met co-founders’ Ashley and Drew Rose about three years ago, just prior to Living Security’s launch. We quickly became believers in them and the vision of the company. So we invested in the vision, and I also supported the company’s growth through an advisory role for the first three years as our Fortune 2000 clients grew.

Now, as a full-time team member, I’ve seen a different and much more impressive aspect of the business: Living Security’s people. Strong teams like engineering, product, sales, support and all the others make work fun because everyone can pull their weight. The sense of ownership and client-focused nature at every level has been remarkable and I cherish having clients that can’t wait to work with us to solve their challenges because they believe we are the right partners. So the journey from investor and advisor to employee has been fantastic and while there is a ton to do, I am confident in our ability to achieve our mission.

 

Responses edited for length and clarity. Photography provided by companies listed, unless otherwise noted.

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