Renske Galema

Area Vice President, Northern Europe, CyberArk

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

My days are broadly divided between my teams, internal stakeholder and external customers and partners. I like to be actively involved in our sales motion, both to assist and to understand the state of the business in my region. I regularly travel to the locations of my teams and I try to combine that with attending marketing events or meeting partners and customers. I also contribute to areas outside my immediate responsibility, for instance, the Women in Cyber initiative within CyberArk. My way of working is to be open and accessible to anyone who needs help, which I am trying to offset by saving enough time to focus on some medium or long-term initiatives from both a regional an EMEA-perspective.

What aspects of your career journey have taken you by surprise?

I stayed too long at one of the companies I worked for. Don’t get me wrong. I learned a lot at that company. But even though I never really believed in a ‘glass ceiling’ keeping women back, that is what I experienced. Experiencing a more inclusive culture in the company I work for now positively surprised me.

Tell us about your first job (can be anything!) and one lesson you might have learned from it.

In my first real job, I worked as a consultant. I liked the job but got bored doing the same thing for every project. I showed a lot of interest in the ins and outs of our sales team, but only when I was asked to join did I realize that I really liked to be in sales, driving business. It took me a few more years to embrace it.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self about getting started in cyber?

Ah, that is an easy one! I would tell myself that empathy is the biggest leadership skill of all, no exception. Caring enough about people to make them succeed and move forward is a skill to be proud of, not to be mistaken as a weakness.

Tell us about the cyber project you're most proud of working on in your career.

It’s been years, but our team implemented a huge service management system for a big Dutch government body. It was delivered on time, within budget and flew through the approval process. Proud moment!

How has public perception of cybersecurity changed over the course of your career, and how do you predict in the future?

Security was more of an afterthought when I first started working. When attacks came to the surface, the focus was on the bad guys rather than what the attacked company should have done. Nowadays, not taking care of security is a weakness. Taking care of security has moved to the foreground and into the boardroom.

Tell us about a role model or mentor who has helped shape your career.

Many people have supported and helped me in my career and have given me opportunities. I am very thankful to the person who offered me my first role as a sales manager. As a role model, I admire former EU Commissioner Neelie Smit-Kroes. She had to break some boundaries in her career!

A meeting gets canceled and you have a surprise 30 minute window of free time — how do you spend it?

I would probably go for an extra cup of coffee, but then I’d open my to-do list to see what I could do. The list is always too long, so I welcome the free time.

What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?

I have a few sports I really like playing, and I will try to build them into my days and weeks. Next, I have my partner and a few dear friends, who I will always have time for. They certainly keep me grounded.

When you think about your personal legacy as a leader, what do you hope people will remember?

I hope I will be remembered for my ability to see where people can perform best and be happy.