February 28, 2019 | 11 min read
Humans of MacKeeper: Vladimir, IT Security Manager
Position: IT Security Manager
Random fact: At first, Vladimir was thinking of another nickname—Cool Hacker or Jackal. Now that he knows how widely the nickname is used in the company, he's glad he picked another option.
Tell us about your first day at MacKeeper. What was it like?
I started working here in November 2017. Although it wasn't my first visit to the office (I'd been there before for a couple of interviews), I was still impressed by the way office looked and the atmosphere it was infused with.
I remember my new colleagues' reaction—an absence of reaction, actually. From the way my colleagues looked, I could assume my appearance in the office hadn’t changed anything for them, like it was the natural thing for me to be there. It felt like we had always worked together.
Did you hesitate before accepting your job offer?
My story isn't standard. When I first applied for a job here, I made it to the final interview but did not get an offer. Someone else did. I felt a little disappointed, even a little angry.
I returned to the job I had at that moment and promised myself to never look back. However, I felt like it wasn't the end yet. In about three months, I got a call from a recruiter. "Hi, this is MacKeeper calling, are you still interested in working for us?"
My first thought was "Yeeeeaaah, they need me."
Now I am glad I was not offered a job right away. When the company reached back, not only was I more confident in my desire to work there, but the company was more willing to agree on my conditions, too. It was a win-win, I guess.
Let's talk business. What team you are a part of? What role does your team play for MacKeeper?
The mission of our team is to provide a seamless, reliable, and user-friendly working environment (IT environment) for everyone in the company.
Step by step, our team develops a system of information security management. We implement one process at a time, prioritizing our work based on the company's current strategy and goals. Our job is to understand what potential risks our company has at the moment and to mitigate them.
It's rather easy to implement security processes since there are many frameworks and ready-to-use practices out there. Plus, our team has good relevant experience in this field. What's difficult, though, is to integrate those processes into the existing culture, and it's even more difficult to change this culture completely over time. I'd say it is the biggest challenge of our team.
I'm happy that both my team and the company's top management understand our mission. With such support, we set ambitious goals and work on achieving them. This is the only way to grow and succeed.
Describe your typical day at work.
I spend a lot of time answering emails, consulting others, and assigning tasks. Looking through all JIRA tickets takes time, too. I have to review tickets where I'm a watcher, and I have to take care of tickets assigned on me.
Meetings take up time, too. I know most people think meetings are the least productive thing in the world, but I'm not one of them. When I set up a meeting, I invite only those who are involved in a decision-making process. It helps us make better decisions and to do it faster.
With everything going on, I don't have much time left for strategic planning. Operational tasks consume too much time. However, we do realize how important the strategic part of work is, so I'm planning to shift my focus to that shortly.
What are your most and least favorite tasks?
Communication, planning, and task management are my favorites. I also like dealing with challenges and solving complicated problems.
My least favorite part is when I need to say "No." Let's say I open an email asking me to approve something. I understand that I'd better not approve it as there's a better way to solve the problem. And here's when I have to say "No."
Some people react to negative responses, well, negatively. They take things personally, failing to stay professional, keeping company interests in mind. This is tough, but I think it’s better in the long run.
Name three character traits or skills that are necessary for your job.
Perseverance. Analytical thinking. Attention to detail. (In the IT security world, there is no such thing as “little things.” All processes and systems need to be thought-out to the tiniest detail, with as much thoroughness as possible. You can't be a good IT security expert without this scrupulousness).
If you could choose any superpower to help you with your job, what would it be?
I'd like to manipulate people—in a good way. [Laughs] Let's say I need to get some information and, with my superpower, I know just exactly what words I have to say and at which moment to say them in order to get what I need. I envision it as some kind of hypnosis that would make people unable to resist when I want to learn something from them. [Smiling]
Is there something about your job you feel proud of?
I'm really happy with what we achieved in terms of GDPR preparation. We did our best and managed to achieve all we had to on time. What I'm proud of is not even the results of our work (although they're cool), but rather of how productive we were as a team. There was a board of eight people, all working for the same goal. We've managed to build a synergy that made the process both productive and comfortable from an emotional perspective.
What is your personal anti-stress recipe?
Lately, we had a lecture about burnout, and it helped me understand I don't have this problem now. They say one of the symptoms is when you take a 2-week vacation, but get back to work just as tired as you were, because you couldn't stop thinking about your job. I don't have problems with this. I can easily disconnect myself from work and find interesting, engaging things to do outside of the office.
However, sometimes I do think about work when at home. When I get ready to work, for example, there's not so much I can think of, so I spend these five minutes thinking of some challenging work task I have at the moment. Sometimes five minutes at home is enough to find the solution I couldn't find for hours working in the office.
On days when you lack motivation for work, what helps you?
These kind of days don't happen to me that often. When they do, though, I just sit down and start working. It's similar to how sportsmen feel before a competition starts. They feel nervous, their knees tremble, but the moment everything starts, they forget all the fears and doubts and just do it. Work is not much different: the moment you make it to the office your laziness is nowhere to be seen.
On days when I feel tired, I go upstairs to our corporate restaurant Fat32, order a cup of tea, talk to some of my colleagues or read industry news. Half an hour spent like this and I'm ready to be productive again.
If you could swap places with any employee in a company for one week, who would this be? Why?
I'd want to be an operational director. I'd set up a meeting to share my vision for the company's future and talk about zones of improvements I see. I'd listen to everyone's feedback to understand what pains and needs people have as well as what prevents people from achieving their goals at work. Maybe, one week in this role would even be enough to make some important, life-changing decisions.
What job offer you would never decline?
The one allowing me to focus more on strategic goals. Ideally, it would be a mature business where all IT processes are well-established and efficient. I would only agree if there were some flexibility in the working schedule and an opportunity to work fewer hours in the office.
Now imagine you've got a job offer of your dreams. It's too good to reject, so you're leaving. What piece of advice would you give the company and your team before you head out?
I'd tell thank you to everyone responsible for our corporate culture and atmosphere in the office. In our company, everything is made for people and with their comfort in mind. I cannot thank enough people responsible for creating, developing, and supporting this atmosphere.
I'd also hope for our company to grow and become even more systematic, maturing as a business, but, at the same time, not sidelining the people who work here.