Reliability. It’s a quality that defines both Brian Hajost the man and Brian Hajost the COO. People know you’ll do what you say you’re going to do. Employees can predict your actions and reactions. Customers can count on you and your product. You are honorable within your industry. And when the going tough and it really counts, you’re there leading the charge.
As COO of SteelCloud LLC, reliability counts. In fact, it’s of national importance.
SteelCloud creates automation software that helps government and the defense industrial base become compliant with mandated cybersecurity protections. Recently named a Top 10 Cloud Security Provider by Enterprise Security magazine, SteelCloud’s ConfigOS is the compliance automation choice of the Department of Defense and the top system integrators. “When you make crazy-sounding claims like ‘our product removes 90% of the effort and 70% of the costs of compliance,’ you either deliver on those claims or get eaten by your competition,” says Hajost. “SteelCloud is a leading compliance solution provider because we are reliable—we deliver on our promises.”
The rewards of success come in the most humble of ways.
Brian’s entire career has been spent in the technology field, whether in the banking, energy, government or commercial sectors. It started after college at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) when Brian sold computers. Then he went into sales management, followed by his current path of general business management. Throughout it all, he has been involved in creating products, making them better and selling them.
Two of his proudest accomplishments, however, have nothing to do with technology. He was an Eagle Scout and recognized for his accomplishments. “This was during the Vietnam War,” Hajost explains, “When wearing a uniform wasn’t respected as it is today.” And, when he was in college, he was named Outstanding Industrial Marketing Student at Miami.
For a man who holds numerous patents, is a thought leader and sits on the AFCEA International Technology Committee, those accolades hold more weight than any he has earned as an executive. His rewards come in more humble means. “When a customer thanks me for being a good vendor—that’s how I measure success. It’s not measured by plaques on the wall. It’s measured by people,” says Hajost.
SteelCloud’s cybersecurity innovation creates magic for users.
As COO at SteelCloud, Brian Hajost is responsible for product and corporate vision, product development and customer support. “We’ve created a reliable product that can be trusted. Early on in our client relationships, customers are usually surprised that ConfigOS does what it says it will do. It’s a sad commentary on the experiences they’ve had in the B2B and B2G markets, but it is a great comment on SteelCloud,” states Hajost.
When Hajost first arrived at SteelCloud in 2009, they weren’t automating government compliance on a large scale. They had a Blackberry security product. And when Blackberry was no longer the flavor of the day, SteelCloud started looking for a new mission. “From the start, we wanted something others had looked at determined couldn’t be automated. We listened to customers and pored overuse cases. There were solutions that could scan systems for vulnerabilities, so we created one that could scan, remediate and offer continual vigilance,” remembers Hajost. “We wanted to produce something that came close to magic.”
SteelCloud now helps protect government infrastructure, as well as major weapons systems, cloud infrastructures and other endpoints our adversaries would love to penetrate. The software SteelCloud developed, ConfigOS, holds 9 patents and has helped move the entire cyber compliance industry forward.
ConfigOS automates STIG (Security Technical Implementation Guide), CIS (Center for Internet Security) and CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) processes to speed compliance. A typical result would be reducing weeks and months of tedious manual scanning and remediation to just an hour. Which is the “magic” Hajost envisioned and why customers are so surprised when it actually does what it says it will do. “It’s a game changer, for sure,” beams Hajost.
Preparing for the downside is key to having an upside.
“When you want to understand someone better, ask them how they made lemonade out of lemons…how they prepared for the downside. Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in life is preparing only for the upside,” says Hajost.
At one organization Hajost led, he came into power when they only had 30 days of cash left. “When you have a really big challenge, there is not a second to lose. You have to be productive. Every effort has to prepare you to move forward,” he recalls. Hajost ultimately brought money in, sold a division and ensured everyone would keep their jobs.
At times people called him too conservative. “Once you’ve been through this a few times and you have the opportunity to regain success, you do everything you can to make sure you never end up in a hole again. So yes, I am conservative from a business standpoint. Customers and employees don’t show up to take risks. You have to fulfil your obligations.”
The future is more about people than products.
Looking forward, Hajost has big plans for SteelCloud and ConfigOS. “We started by really rethinking a destination we wanted to get to. We built a solution that was self-healing, self-protecting and dramatically less labor to achieve consistent results. In the next few months we will be bringing new technologies to the market that improve what we already have and have a dramatic effect on customers,” teases Hajost.
In addition to that, “There is no reason SteelCloud can’t be the best place to work in the region. We listen to employees and give their ideas respect. We compensate well. We believe in a work/life balance.”
“It’s all about creating an organization you can be proud of,” continues Hajost. “For someone in my position, success is measured by personal, organizational and business metrics. Personal is all about the success of your family. Organizational is about providing a good workplace and challenges…making it interesting. And business revolves around if you’re doing something important. Are you helping peoples’ lives?”
A muscle memory trained on problem solving.
When you dig a little deeper with someone who is a success in business, you’ll find that there are philosophies that follow them throughout every role in life. We already know Brian is reliable, so he creates reliable products, leads a reliable work culture and is someone family and friends can count on.
But another interesting constant is that Hajost is an inventor—beyond ConfigOS and despite the fact that he’s not an engineer. He’s invented novel items completely outside of the IT domain. The common denominator is “see a problem, fix a problem. If you approach life seeing problems and taking the responsibility to fix them for yourself, you create a muscle memory that just enables you to do more problem solving,” Brian explains. “And if your entire organization is thinking that way, it’s good.”
Still dreaming after all these years.
Has Brian achieved all he has dreamed of in his career? Yes and no. His dreams in college were small, but as you grow so do your dreams. Brian is an adventurer at heart. “My dreams are centered around the next great thing—the next great benefit we can provide or the next great invention we can conceive. If you’ve achieved all your dreams, then it’s time to dream a little more. I’m still dreaming and that will always be the case.”
In parting, Brian says, “At SteelCloud, we don’t automate the work people value. We automate the stuff they really don’t want to do. As cyberworkforce shortages grow, automation is key. But it’s also key to giving people the kind of work that challenges them. Something one of my old bosses said has stuck with me: ‘I’d rather challenge people at 110% than hire someone who is so qualified I can only challenge them at 80%.’ That’s the promise of automation—to relieve people of the stuff that doesn’t challenge them so they can put their energy into the stuff that does. A well-paid, well-respected, sufficiently challenged person will not leave their job.”
Automation has achieved that goal for thousands in government and industry. And a life of pursuing challenging goals has given Brian that gift, too. If you are looking for Brian’s secret to success, you can’t get more reliable than that.