LEADERS IN CYBERSECURITY
Senior Global Systems Integrator Business Manager for EMEA|LATAM, Palo Alto Networks
Erika Buenrostro is a cybersecurity professional who helps organizations improve their security posture by developing strategic alliances to deliver end-to-end solutions to large enterprises. Erika started her career as a systems engineer and soon found her passion in business-to-business enterprise sales. With over 15 years of sales and strategic partnership experience in the cybersecurity domain, Erika has a proven track record in building solid partnerships with a customer-centric approach. Erika Buenrostro is a Senior Global Systems Integrator Business Manager and leads the strategic relationship with Deloitte in EMEA and LATAM at Palo Alto Networks.
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
Every day is different. I work with a multitude of teams from different geographical areas and cultures. Typically, I attend multiple virtual calls throughout the day, but what I enjoy most are the days when I am on the road. Meeting people in person is something I appreciate much more after the pandemic.
What aspects of your career journey have taken you by surprise?
Embracing change. I emigrated from Mexico to Europe and first held a product management role in the telco industry – an industry that was new to me – before getting back into cybersecurity sales. Those years in telco were out of my comfort zone and I had to study a lot. It made me humble and resilient at the same time. I am really grateful for the learnings and the opportunity to restart my career in Europe.
Tell us about the cyber project you're most proud of working on in your career.
There are many of them. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I love the idea of building things from scratch. Positioning new technologies and developing new partnerships made me proud because they contribute to helping customers protect their critical assets and secure their digital journey.
How has public perception of cybersecurity changed over the course of your career, and how do you predict in the future?
I am pondering this question as I leave the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a great source for insights into how the future will look. Cybersecurity has evolved from being very niche to becoming a critical risk mitigation factor for every organization. While companies are currently busy putting in place their journey to the cloud or implementing zero-trust networks, cybersecurity will be more present in our daily lives as consumers soon. The wider adoption of technologies such as robots, 5G, AI, the metaverse or blockchain to improve human lives will inevitably expand the attack surface. Awareness, accountability and cooperation will be required between individuals and organizations to better cope with the complexity of the cybersecurity landscape.
Tell us about your first job (can be anything!) and one lesson you might have learned from it.
My first job was as a programmer in the IT department for Grupo Modelo (the Corona beer manufacturer). I was the only woman on a team of twelve. Then, I was put forward to participate in a global project, again being the only woman. I have great memories of that time and received great support from my peers, but I learned there was a long way to go before women would have a stronger presence in the IT industry.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self about getting started in cyber?
Ask for advice. If you are clear about where you want to go, the easiest way to get there is to learn from those who have already walked that path.
Tell us about a role model or mentor who has helped shape your career.
I must highlight Clara Pelaez, former VP and Head of Strategy, Marketing and Communications at Ericsson. I met Clara as part of a mentorship program developed by GSMA. Clara was my mentor for a year after I moved to Europe. She is originally from Colombia and moved to Italy for her studies, where she established herself. Clara and I shared a cultural connection and both worked in IT. Clara’s guidance was key for me to identify where I wanted to take my career next and how to prepare for that. She also helped me navigate cultural adaptation to the European market.
A meeting gets canceled and you have a surprise 30 minute window of free time — how do you spend it?
Since I live in the vibrant city of Madrid, I’d quickly grab my keys and laptop and walk to the coffee shop across the street. I’d order a “cortado” coffee and an alfajore and sit by the window while I go through e-mails before returning home for the next call, recharged with caffeine and some vitamin D.
What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?
I am paying more attention to that lately, starting with a short breathing exercise or meditation in the morning. I go to the gym two to three times a week and keep that up while traveling. On weekends, I sometimes go to the mountains, take a salsa dancing class or enjoy sitting on a terrace with friends.
When you think about your personal legacy as a leader, what do you hope people will remember?
I want to inspire the next generation to work towards their goals. I dreamed of continuing my professional career in cybersecurity abroad and having international exposure. I learned so many lessons along the way that I’d take any opportunity to share my experience and support others on their cybersecurity career journey.