A different approach to talent in cyber/video security

As I’ve watched events unfold around the world over the last few weeks, it got me thinking about my path to join Ava (Jazz Networks and Vaion joined forces as Ava in April). My decision really came down to how much I wanted to work for a different kind of company. At this point in my 25-year career, not only did I want to be part of an innovative company with a great future, but one that values integrity.

Measuring integrity is, admittedly, a bit challenging, but here’s one of the things that caught my attention: how Ava’s Product Development team operates with respect to women and nationalities. First, there are a surprising number of women on the team, including many in leadership positions. This was quite remarkable to me in this typically male-dominated industry. Second, I noticed an incredibly rich mix of nationalities represented.

Never before have I worked with either this many women—outside of what one might say are more traditionally female roles—or with such a cross-national group of people. Let alone both.

Let me explain why I think both of these matter, not just for me, but more importantly, for our customers and other businesses that want to vastly improve their physical and cybersecurity.

When Ran Pugach, Ava’s Chief Product and Development Officer, presented his team to me, I couldn’t help noticing that his leadership team was 33% women. Also, there were (still are) 16 women overall in Ava’s Product Development team which spans our full range of cyber and physical security solutions. For a relatively small company in the early stages of its journey, that’s huge. In all my years in the high-tech cyber and physical security industries, I’ve never come across this.

When I jokingly asked Ran about the women in his organization and leadership team and whether he was “checking the box”, he proudly said: “From the outset, Ava and its investors were intent on finding the best talent out there. Protecting physical assets and providing data security are extremely complex challenges demanding highly capable people with the right experience and outlook. The reason why I brag about my team composition is that I was not explicitly looking to hire women. I was looking to hire the best talent and I’m very happy they were women!”

The same reasoning lies behind seeking out experts from all over the world. Ava develops products for both cyber and video security, which entails both hardware (appliances, intelligent cameras) and software (cybersecurity, video analytics, cloud solutions). Today, 21 nationalities (!) are represented on the team, including (beyond UK and Norway where Ava is co-headquartered) Canada, Malaysia, Switzerland, and South Korea to name just a few.

In every company I’ve ever worked, including global companies where multiple nationalities were represented across the organization, most, if not all the members of the product development teams, hailed from a single country. It may have been because they were all ‘known’ to the founders, or because the company started in a particular region of the world. Ava’s mix is altogether different and quite refreshing in my eyes.

And, it makes business sense.

To best serve any market, you have to have top talent. But beyond that, to sell software platforms to a global market, it’s critical to have global talent that reflects your customer base. This is true for obvious, and, for less obvious reasons alike. The perspectives of people from different nations are not only incredibly important for product development and roadmaps, but also for operational support and delivery.

All too often, there are subtle practices, norms, or perceptions that can get in the way of smooth and frictionless adoption because the seller hasn’t figured out what a customer might be thinking or hasn’t recognized some cultural or national nuance or preference. Ava’s product development team brings a special discernment to meeting the “less evident” needs of its global customer base.

This brings me back to Ran. He’s lived in five countries and traveled to over 40 more, all while bringing complex technology platforms to the market. Ran speaks multiple languages, but more importantly, he speaks “global”. It’s a part of who he is and a big part of what Ava strives to be.

I know it’s not easy to run a large team or a company. I’m not pretending I know how, especially in difficult times like the ones we’re in now. Feeling valued for who you are and the strengths you bring – rather than feeling like management has checked the boxes and filled the organizational chart—is palpable to employees and customers alike. It’s the basis for creating great teams, and for best serving the real needs of customers—as defined by them.

And, yes, all of this circles back to what’s going on in the world and what ultimately informed my decision to work for Ava. As a woman and a part of this talented global team, I chose Ava not only because of its game-changing video and cybersecurity solutions but even more so because of its refreshing perspective on people. The broader world is clearly up against a completely different set of challenges, but I stand by the fight for more integrity – whether it’s a team at work or on a national or global scale.

To learn why Jazz Networks and Vaion merged to become Ava, a unified security provider, read this blog from our CEO, Tormod Ree.