Many people equate money with success. Although, money is not a bad indicator, but it is not the end all be all. To me success is being blessed with a beautiful family, my Towerwall team members and our customers. Over the past 20 plus years, I thought that building a successful cybersecruity company would be by always dotting the I’s and crossing my T’s, but it is truly all about building a solid reputation that our customers have come to expect is my success.
Of course, there are always roadblocks that teach you valuable lessons. A lot of messy middles. But if you don’t fail, you can’t learn. Nothing is perfect. Failure makes you stronger if you learn from your mistakes. When you hit roadblocks, sometimes you may need to take five steps back, pull over to the shoulder and move forward again. That simple principle applies to business, as well as family.
When I am being asked, “What does a solid reputation look like to me?” I immediately think to one of our many customers who has taken Towerwall to over 6 companies throughout his career. That is what I call a relationship with integrity! Personally, I’d like to believe that I am known to be a woman of integrity. My mantra is God first, family second, our employees and customers third. If all of those go to plan, then I’m living the life God intends me to live and for that, is what I am truly blessed by. For all of these reasons, I am successful, I am Blessed and so fortunate that my company, Towerwall makes money too!
With all this being said, it hasn’t always been “easy”. I have had personal struggles and have had hard lessons learned. In 2017, I broke my ankle and was couch-bound for three months. Later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt as if this would the right time to hire a few people to run Towerwall in my absence. Unfortunately, it was almost run directly into the ground. From that point on, I knew what we needed. Towerwall, more frankly I, grew stronger and those challenges made me push harder, change my outlook, grew my team, and continue our solid reputation with our valued customers. And again, therefore I am truly blessed. In 2018, Towerwall has grown 20% each year. Our team has a run through the wall attitude. For these reasons I believe that you should never stop moving forward even if you have to take a few steps backwards.
I have been in the cybersecurity industry for almost 30 years and while cyber criminals have changed some of their strategies, we know that our customers need to do continue to do the same thing they’ve been doing, patching their software and systems.
The four E’s: Evaluate, Establish, Educate and Enforce is Towerwall’s motto. Upon that foundation we developed our Seven Dimensions of Cybersecurity. This strategy is based on risk and a security framework like ISO27001, NIST CSF, etc. Secondly, we determine what regulatory requirements need to be adhered to and build programs, polices, processes and procedure to follow. Questions like “Is it HIPAA for healthcare?” or “Is at GLBA for financial institutions or higher ed?”. Next is vendor risk, everyone is now being held accountable for building and maintaining a strong security posture.
The Towerwall Team will then look at security awareness to make employees a key part of the security team. We will then help evaluate the technology stack and defense in depth is key. Sixth, is vulnerability management, conducting annual penetration tests, poking holes to determine where vulnerabilities exist. And finally, is getting and maintaining your Cyber Insurance. We walk alongside our clients to help them understand what those pieces comprise in building a solid security and compliance foundation.
We like to use the phrase; You could build a house without a blueprint, but would you want to live in it? This phrase applies to cybersecurity best practices. You want to build a strategy based on risk. You need to understand the regulatory requirements. Towerwall really tries not to boil the ocean for our clients. We truly try to make cybersecurity digestible, and they walk away with knowledge.
Towerwall has been the recipient of many leadership awards of which we are so proud of. We also welcome and support future cybersecurity technicians. Most recently our Mass Bay Cyber Intern accepted a big promotion working in a field he is most compassionate about, Governance Risk Compliance (GRC). We pride ourselves in not only helping our clients but in our future. Supporting students by giving them the opportunity to work with the Towerwall Team has proven to be a success for these interns. Giving people a start in life, it is a blessing.
Towerwall is very excited to announce that our Annual Cyber Security Summit is in its 13th year. What is Towerwall’s Annual Cyber Security Summit? We collaborate with Mas Bay Community College and bring our vendor partners, customers and expert cybersecurity professionals together to aid organizations. We help give the knowledge needed to help better understand and handle issues at
hand but also how to manage the process. Covid did put a stop to this Summit for a few years but come June 8th, 2023, we will be back in person hosting this Event. Stayed tuned!
Who is Michelle Drolet? If I had to define myself in one word, I would say passionate. Every day is different. My team has grown. My role has changed. Things at Towerwall, my life now, is much more strategic in scope and practice. I continue to support our sales team and maintain a relationship with our consultants and engineers. I enjoy speaking with our customers and being the helping hand I can be, by building strong cybersecurity programs to keep the bad actors out. I love doing podcasts, publishing articles, writing white papers and genuinely sharing information. You never know when it could be the right ears to fall on and make a difference.
My favorite question is often asked, how do you balance work and family life? Well, it hasn’t always been “easy”, but it has gotten “easier” now that all three of my daughters are grown and have children of their own. For which I am so proud of each one of them. I have a wonderful husband who continues to keep us grounded but most importantly, God. As I said earlier, my mantra is God first, family second, work third. I do love what I do, they say when you love what you do, do you ever really work? Work-life balance is very important, but needs be balanced to stay healthy. I like to say, work smart, play hard!
I am very fortunate to have hired people who are truly self-motivated. I am so proud our employees. They always want to do what is right for our clients and each other. With that said, the key to great leadership is finding out what motivates each team member. Is it compensation, time off, maybe even just the camaraderie but everyone is a little different. 70% of our staff had worked remotely before Covid, now we have a hybrid work week with limited staff who do come into the office.
Towerwall employees will work from home Monday’s and Friday’s and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be in-office days, however this is also flexible. I couldn’t be prouder of this team who work so tirelessly to continue to build Towerwall. We check our egos at the door, stay respectful toward one another and continue to stay positive. This is what we believe creates a proactive, positive corporate culture that make this team deliver at 100%. For this I am very lucky as we are working in a very complex industry.
My advice for aspiring CISOs and entrepreneurs? Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Never be afraid of failure because it only makes you stronger.
As a woman leader, my personal goals are to lead Towerwall with integrity, to help our team and keep our customers safe. I am also so excited to share that two years ago, my oldest daughter joined the Team Towerwall. The future plans of Towerwall are changing for the better, the sky’s the limit.
Life is really exciting and I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in my life. God Bless.
About the Author
Michelle Drolet is CEO of Towerwall, a specialized cybersecurity firm since 1993 offering compliance and professional onsite services with clients such as Foundation Medicine, Boston College and Middlesex Savings Bank. Founded in 1999 in Framingham, MA, Towerwall focuses exclusively on providing small to mid-size businesses customized cybersecurity technology programs.