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Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with

Eliza-May Austin

helps you in your leadership.

Eliza-May Austin

Eliza-May Austin

Name: Eliza-May Austin

Title: CEO


Eliza knew she wanted to work in tech from the moment she saw Sandra Bullock order Pizza over dial-up in her favourite film, 1995’s ‘The Net’.

Eliza has a degree in Digital Forensics, is SANS trained in Network Forensics, PurpleTeaming and Penetration Testing. She has previously worked in cyber defence in a number of FTSE100 companies and founded the Ladies Hacking Society, now managed by a large team of industry volunteers.

Despite her infatuation with tech she has taken on a more business-centric role and guided the company through impressive sales-driven growth, won a slew of awards and was voted one of the most inspirational voices in cybersecurity.

Favourite song ever: Two Princes by the spin Dr’s

Favourite quote: ” Create yourself instead of seeking to discover yourself ” [Tim Ferriss]

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Slowing down. The more people we hire the bigger the burden of responsibility, but the more people there are to do the jobs I was doing. July 2023 and we're about to hit 20 team members and I'm finally able to finish a book again.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I previously ran a non-profit (Ladies Hacking Society) while working a fully time job. Now I run leadership holds a different meaning, it's a different kettle of fish running a company on volunteers vs a commercial organisation with team members that have families, mortgages and dogs!

Leadership for me now is about keeping the day-to-day in line with the big picture while simultaneously making sure everyone in the team is advancing their career with us and keeping our customers happy. Back when I ran a NPO it was more about having fun with friends, hacking systems and eating pizza. I was lucky I had that space to make some mistakes and take those lessons into my commercial business.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I really don't have a glamorous morning routine and I'm definitely not a poster child for a healthy life.

I roll out of bed, hopefully, at 8am, make a LARGE strong coffee with messy hair, one sock on and squinting at daylight.
From there I'll let Maud, my Romanian rescue pooch out in the garden and then ill crawl back in to bed and sip my coffee while staring at the wall for 20 minutes.

From there I brush my teeth, have my 3rd coffee and then approaching 9am I'm logging on to my first call of the day.

I'll normally work till late taking international calls from clients and prospects before zoning out at about 11:30 pm and zombie-watching youtube and preparing my diary for the next day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I recently started reading 'Essentialism' by Greg Mckeown. It's taught me the blindingly obvious "There can only be 1 priority at a time". It sounds like you'd not need much in the ways of brain power to know that, but oddly I often find myself getting in a flap with my PA because I've got 400 tasks and 80 top priorities.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

This might not be an obvious choice, BUT... " the wisdom of Psychopaths" by Kevin Dutton.
There's a quote that really speaks to my leadership style and the way I run my business. "Instead of dominants standing out because of what they take, they affirm their position by what they give" [Frans de Waal].
My interpretation of that says; is that being a confident and competent leader isn't about taking from clients, or employees it's about giving and actually adding value as both a boss and a supplier.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Get your head down and concentrate on your own business. It really doesn't matter what your competitors are doing.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Our industry (cyber security) has a well-publicised skills gap. We have a constant stream of good quality or awesome applicants, I wish we could hire them all but we can't. It's such a great feeling to be recognised as a place people want to have on their resume.

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