‘CompTIA Makes Me Feel That I’ve Learned More Than I’ve Taught’

Membership in the CompTIA community opens doors to new potential partners, but also like-minded peers to get answers to questions you won’t get anywhere else.

We Are CompTIA Blog Thumbnail Images_515x325 Tracie Orisko copyCompTIA members work with us—and each other—to build the resources and tools that demonstrate how innovative technologies help businesses be more efficient, productive and profitable. Why do they do it? We’re going to let them explain.

In this Q&A, Tracie Orisko, senior director of sales development and community at Huntress, talks about how being part of the CompTIA community has helped shape her career and business—and why it’s important to get involved.

Read more to get Tracie’s perspective on how CompTIA membership can help you and your company, including:

  • Getting the answers you need, not what something else thinks you want to hear
  • Developing those around you to ensure long-term success
  • Learning how to make everyone safer against cyber threats

Related content: See more We Are CompTIA stories here.

Can you tell us about your role?

I wear many, many hats. I run the pre-sales side of the house at Huntress, the sales development team that does our initial touch inbound and outbound. Our job is to make sure that our sales team is fed with leads. And then on the community side of the house, my job is to win the hearts of the MSP industry.

How do you win the hearts of MSPs?

We believe that community is the base of all things. Being a partner means making sure we understand what the community requires. Looking for the real question behind the question that gets asked and ensuring that we understand what the cybersecurity space needs and looking to see how we can deliver that.

Being in the cybersecurity industry, what keeps you up at night?

One of the big things that keeps me up at night is something we talked about in the CompTIA Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO). The smallest partners out there are the ones that are the most at risk. We say we are cybersecurity for the 99%, which means we're focused on not just the largest players in the market but also the small shops because we know they are the ones that need the most help staying safe.

How does CompTIA help you be a better partner to MSPs?

CompTIA allows us to engage with the MSP community at large, giving us more avenues and more space to spread our message. The CompTIA community allows me access to MSPs all over the world. As we expand across different regions, for example, into Australia, our community membership with CompTIA will allow us easier entry into those markets.

Does CompTIA help you attract the right partners?

I don't believe that there is a specific quality of partner, really. We want everything from that completely immature shop to be as secure as the largely mature shop. But it’s like a hive mind to me—CompTIA is an organization that brings people together, people that don't necessarily agree with what you're saying. No one in the CompTIA community is competing with each other when they’re together, which means they're not just giving you the answers you want to hear. It allows me to reframe my thoughts or rethink.

What do you mean by hive mind, and why is that valuable for your business?

The hive mind concept is what allows me to collect more information and opinions. We have an opportunity to come together and bounce ideas off each other and help the industry as a whole. It’s an opportunity to have a group of people with like-minded ideas, but completely different opinions. I've never walked away from a CompTIA event where I haven't felt like I’ve learned more than I’ve taught.

A hive mind generally creates a challenge network. I get up every morning thinking ‘what if I'm wrong today?’ Being at a CompTIA event allows me to test that theory. We don't have these layers of competitiveness like you see at other industry events. A hive mind honestly gives me the opportunity to get answers that I need to hear, not answers that someone thinks I want to hear. I know I may get seven opinions back and then be able to have a conversation. For me, that's what hivemind is all about. And I need it to thrive.

How do those conversations and differing opinions help you?

I think there are 100 difficult conversations we could have on a daily basis. I grew up in the telemarketing space in the industry, so I'm used to hard conversations, and I don't shy away from what might be considered a fight. But in the CompTIA space, I think we're all allowed to have an opinion because it's vendor-neutral and welcoming to all kinds of different business types. 

As leaders, we face a lot of difficult questions every day. How is your staff performing? What do you do when someone is struggling in your organization? My management team and I work with entry level-staff in the industry, so bringing them from net new to become cybersecurity professionals in a short time is hard. CompTIA allows me to bounce ideas off of other cybersecurity professionals. I'm not a cybersecurity expert yet. I've got so much to learn. Asking questions on metrics, asking questions on KPIs, and digging into what you do when someone isn't performing is extremely valuable. How does this industry help people get better? How do you find resources? Those are things that CompTIA helps with.

Also, I think that my membership on the CompTIA boards and executive committees has allowed me to say that we aren't doing enough, especially for women in the executive space. I went from being the executive assistant to someone to being the president of a company. I had a unique opportunity to think about how I went from A to B and wanted to explore ‘how do I bring someone else with me?’ 

I can remember my very first CompTIA industry event, where I talked about how I had recently been asked how I knew it was okay to sit at the men's table. I stood up at that meeting and said it didn't occur to me there was a men's table, and why are we talking about that still? And instead of being standoffish, this CompTIA panel of executive women leaned into that conversation. And it allowed me to understand that I had a voice that would tell a different story. You don't see that in other areas.

What did learn about career development going from someone’s assistant to president of a company?

My sister had been asking me for a long time to go into business. And I had said no, I'm really happy. I'm doing this small job that gives me great satisfaction. I had been placed in a number of opportunities throughout my career, to work with mentors, who were all male, who helped me further my career in 100 different ways, all of them by saying, “We understand you're unqualified for this, but we're going to teach you how to do it.” The only skill I had walking in the door of my first job was the ability to say to someone, “I understand I'm not qualified. I think you should hire me anyway.” And someone said to me, “You’re hired. I can't train attitude. You've walked in here wanting something. I can teach you how to be a legal assistant. I cannot teach you how to command a room and you commanded the room from the minute you walked in.”

I was able to pivot that into working in this space. I walk into a room like I own it. Sometimes with women that is more challenging because we're all trying to walk in a room like we own it. We’ve got 12 people on the CompTIA North America Community executive council. I think nine of them are women. That's unheard of in the tech space. When I walk into that room full of women, all I see are amplifiers. And that's night and day from what it was when I came into the industry almost nine years ago, where there used to be three women at a tech conference. Now there are 30 women at a tech conference. And of those 30 probably half of them are holding some sort of higher-level opportunity.

My big belief is if you are going to join the “men's table,” you just come and sit down at the table. But if you haven't brought a chair for someone who is behind you that is afraid to do it, you're not doing your job as a woman in tech. Make space for yourself but make space for someone else.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I would say I'm proud of actioning the growth of people. If I think back upon the pivotal moments in my career, it’s bringing someone from an entry-level, cold-calling telemarketing position to a leader at our own company, helping give women the opportunity to come out of a domestic abuse shelter and become the manager of operations for a cybersecurity firm, bringing people who couldn't put food on the table last week to becoming account executives. There's nothing I love more than growing people. 

When people ask me, what do I do? I give them my job title, but what do I really do? I get up every day and think how I can make that person better at their job. Doing that makes me better at mine. My whole job is figuring out how to build the foundation of Huntress so that the team that we bring on board into sales development can spread across the entire organization because we're building extraordinary humans.

How does CompTIA help you help make the industry a better, safer place?

We believe that whether you buy from us or not, you need to be more secure. So the more work we do in education, the more the industry is going to become secure. The rising tide lifts all boats is something we live by at Huntress and it's something that I'm able to do at CompTIA too. If I have the opportunity at CompTIA to talk to 10 people that I can learn from and teach them, we're all smarter at the end of it. 

At my first CompTIA Community & Councils Forum (CCF), I discovered that there was no quantifiable real business being done, except there was so much other business being done. When we take our vendor hats off and we simply talk about cybersecurity and about education, everybody benefits. In the long run, you're doing what's right for you and you're doing the thing that's going to keep everybody safe at night. There’s a long weekend coming up. I'd like to have the weekend off. The more we learn as an industry, the more likely we are to get through long weekends without a cybersecurity incident

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