Samantha Madrid

GVP, Security Business & Strategy, Juniper Networks

Cyberattacks are the number one business risk in most of the world, according to a 2022 study from the World Economic Forum. Not all cyber threats are alike, and diverse problems require diverse solutions. Yet, the cyber industry is predominantly led by men. How can we solve this significant threat to the business world with only half of the population? Fortunately, the women who make up that percentage are some of the fiercest in the greater technology industry. In this series, The Female Quotient and Deloitte are putting a spotlight on 25 women at the forefront of the cyber revolution, amplifying their career advice and sharing their insights on how the industry will evolve in the future. Their stories are proof that behind every functioning society is a woman in cyber.

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

I lead Juniper Network’s global security business, which covers all three of our customer segments: Enterprise, Service Provider and Cloud. Throughout the day, I spend a lot of time with customers, partners and analysts, along with our teams. I roughly divide my time in half between internal and external engagement.

What's a common misconception about women in cyber you'd like to debunk?

The most common misconception is that women are unable to decouple their personal feelings about a person or a situation from what’s best for the business. In short, we’re too emotional.

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

At times, I’ve been surprised by how difficult it can be as a woman leader in this industry. I tend to view people through a lens of meritocracy, and unfortunately, my experience has sometimes been different.

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

My superpower is that I can see and understand both sides of an issue. My conviction is never based on the need to be right, but rather being able to connect the desired outcome with the path to get there.

What's the most challenging component of your job today?

The most challenging aspect of my job tends to be navigating the disconnect between perception and reality. Security customers often buy based on analysts’ recommendations, so sometimes it’s hard for companies to break through that perception to get recognition.

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

Driving the team to achieve the highest security efficacy of any firewall product for the last three years.

What's one must read, watch or listen for women wanting to work in cyber?

Onward by Howard Schultz, founder and CEO of Starbucks. I also love the “Darknet Diaries” podcast.

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

For the past several decades, the security industry has tried to convey that cybersecurity isn’t a niche problem or function — it affects everyone! So, it’s exciting to see it now at the forefront of many business decisions and becoming an integral part of organizational strategy. The industry is also increasingly diverse. More women and minorities are in leadership positions, which means different perspectives are accounted for when solving cybersecurity’s toughest challenges.

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

There is no way around the obstacle, only through. You don’t need to win every argument or battle, but rather you need to focus on the overall objective. Sometimes you must “give to get” to realize your goals.

Who are some women working in cyber today that you admire?

Any women in a male dominated industry, especially those in cyber who have achieved senior positions.

Samantha Madrid is the GVP Product Management, Security Business & Strategy at Juniper Networks, with over two decades of experience in enterprise business-to-business security market roles spanning product management to marketing to sales engineering. She has a proven track record turning around business to achieve record growth and industry recognition. She previously served as the Vice President of Product Management and Marketing for E8 Security (acquired by VMware), and held leadership roles at Palo Alto Networks, Forcepoint, Inc. and Cisco Systems. She also spent many years in the field as a hands-on Systems Engineer, specializing in various security technologies. She studied political science at San Jose State University, where she also was a member of the university’s swimming and diving team.