The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is Cybersecurity Industry Executive of the Year (Private Company) finalist Kevin Youngquist, who’s vice president of U.S. public sector & healthcare at Veritas Technologies LLC. Here, he talks key achievements, shaping the next generation of industry leaders, learning from failures and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020 / 2021?
2020-2021 was a difficult year being a leader and managing the uncertainties of the global pandemic. Leading through this time required a great deal of patience and a steady hand. Veritas was able to grow, while other organizations like ours declined, due to a detailed focus on helping our customers protect their most vital asset: data. We also saw an increasing number and complexity of attacks by nation states and criminals on new vectors that were introduced as the government and healthcare industry made a rapid shift to remote work, telehealth and providing virtual constituent services.
This required new ways of problem solving and creativity to help our customers meet these unforeseen demands. Our team worked in innovative ways to maximize the options that we offered in the cloud, as a service, and as FedRAMP authorized solutions. Last year, we also helped over 30 customers in Public Sector install ransomware resilient solutions to better protect critical infrastructure, hospitals and healthcare systems, and citizen-facing services.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Understanding the real issues when helping the government and healthcare solve complex data management and data protection challenges requires active listening and questioning. The same applies internally in solving organizational problems. I spend much of my time in the discovery phase, problem solving to understand the implications to the organization of the current state. This holistic understanding helps to craft the best future state. Listening has become a lost skill in today’s fast paced world where information and “best practices” are at everyone’s fingertips.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
Partnering with key government executives on our Public Sector Advisory Board has helped my organization adapt to our customers’ needs more quickly. We stood up our board during 2020-2021, and it is leading to a Public Sector-focused solution orientation. It’s one thing to have an advisory board, and quite another to use the board to craft industry focused solutions and educate our clients about how best to provide cyber resilient enterprises with real world best practices.
What are your primary focuses areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
Veritas aids in preventing and recovering from cyber-attacks. We are laser focused on preventing and remediating ransomware attacks across healthcare and government critical infrastructure. We’ve also helped agencies recover from attacks when protected by competitor solutions. We jump to help recover their operation rather than push for costly engagements.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
Mentoring the next generation of leaders is a key priority. In 2021, we started our early career program to hire and train the next generation of top leaders with three to five years of work experience. Mentoring them and providing on-going coaching is essential — and it is a great way for me to solidify my leadership approach and insights. Teaching for me is the best way to become an expert in topics ranging from emotional intelligence to leading with empathy.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
One key learning I have had is that when you fail, the easiest way to recover is to fall on the sword, take responsibility and focus your energy on providing a solution to the problem or failure. This takes confidence to admit you screwed up, own it and work on fixing the issue. I find many leaders deflect and are slow to take responsibility. The team picks up on this and it damages one’s relationships.