Theresa Jones is the Chief Revenue Officer at NTT Groups Cyber Security Division. She was promoted to her current role in December 2020 and has worked within the group for over a decade, having joined it with Dimension Data. She is globally responsible for the specialist security sales teams and the specialist solutions architects. The division serves both direct clients and channel clients through the other NTT operating companies.
The division was created following the consolidation of 32 operating companies within the NTT Group into NTT Ltd. Enterprise Times asked Jones to summarise NTT Security.
Jones answered, “NTT security is a global managed security provider. We help our clients ensure that their businesses are what we class as, secure by design. So with threats to information security becoming increasingly sophisticated and diverse, the damage caused by cyber-attacks and data breaches have come to be recognised as a social problem.
“With our unsurpassed threat intelligence, we help our clients, and other NTT group companies’ clients predict, detect and respond to cyber threats while supporting business innovation and managing risk.
“NTT has a global network of security operations centres, seven research and development centres, and 1000s of specialist security experts throughout the world. We handle hundreds of thousands of security incidents each year across all six continents.”
On that merger
What did you learn through the merger experience, and what challenges did it raise that you need to solve as CRO?
“It’s always interesting when you’ve come through the end of it. The successful merger of 32 operating companies to become NTT Limited was an absolutely huge project. It was not completed overnight. One of the things that actually stuck out for me throughout the process was that our global leadership team always had our people and our clients at the heart of any decisions they made. As we all know, you cannot be a successful business or society without your people and your clients.
“That’s something that I now always think about really hard before making any decisions. The three things I think about are: Is it right for our people? Is it right for our clients? And is it right for us? If the answer to one of those questions is no or maybe, then we’ll go back and review and change our plans until we can honestly answer yes to all. Thankfully for us, our global leadership team was extremely successful in completing our merger. That’s made NTT an even stronger, leading, global technology services company.”
Is the order in which you placed people and then clients important? There are different schools of thought on this.
“No! In my opinion, they are just as important as each other. Without good people, you’re not gonna have clients, and without clients, you don’t have good people.”
Looking back, what were the key challenges when you started the role?
“For me, one of the biggest challenges has been getting to know my team remotely. They’re a global team. We use Teams, and unfortunately for them, I’m one of those who always like to have their video turned on. In the eight months, I’ve been in this role, I’ve only met a handful of my team face to face.
“When you join a new company, especially in a leadership role, or any role, you need to get to know your teams and build trust. It’s key that you build trust. You can be successful only if your team is successful.”
It sounds like you’re hoping that travelling comes back so you can start to meet people.
“Most definitely. Whilst it’s been great that we have the technology we have today, and we’ve got a lot done, there are some sessions that you do need to do face to face.
“My team and I will be following both my local government guidance on COVID and our company guidance. If I’m honest, I don’t see myself travelling for a while. Yes, I am looking forward (to it), and I never thought I’d say that about getting back on an aeroplane.”
The skills challenge
What is your current challenge?
“It’s not a challenge that I can resolve on my own, or we can resolve as a team and as a business. The main challenge we face today, as all businesses globally in the cybersecurity sector, is the skill shortage. Anyone in the sector will be aware that we have had a skill shortage for a while.
“However, that has been impacted in the last couple of years and specifically further impacted by the global pandemic. Our industry is growing dramatically with governments and businesses worldwide, suddenly needing to work from home or remotely for months on end, but also needing to ensure that they securely do that.”
The marketing challenge
One of the challenges in marketing for security vendors is published customer advocacy. How do you approach that?
“That is true. There are 1,000s of customers that we have as a business that we will never speak about because that’s the right thing to do, and that’s the agreement you have. That’s the same in the IT industry, but it’s even worse in cyber. However, this is one area that we’re actually quite proud of.
“In the past year, we have clients like Nissin Foods in Hong Kong, Axfood and BW Offshore in the Nordics that have permitted NTT to write named case studies about how we’ve helped them secure their environment. All three of these are now on our website, and we have more in the pipeline, publishing soon.
“For us, it’s incredible validation. CISOs and other security leaders trust each other the most. For me, having clients speak for us and telling them what we do for them is really powerful.”
What have you achieved in the last year from a business point of view?
“We are continuing to grow both our specialist sales and specialist solutions architectures team globally. We’re actively working on expanding into new emerging markets and within our existing channels. We are also about to launch some new global managed security solutions, which is really exciting. We’re keeping our go to market team very busy at the moment.
“It’s been a really interesting eight months. I have enjoyed getting to know my global team and the wider NTT security team whilst also ensuring that we have the right platform for significant business growth moving forward. The first eight months have absolutely flown by. I take this positively as I’m really enjoying my role, and I work with a fabulous team. As I always say to the team, are you ready to think bigger, as this is just the beginning?”
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2021?
“I had a plan when I took on the role in December with what we wanted to achieve. We are on the cusp of completing that early, which is great. We’ve also grown our specialist sales and specialist solutions architecture team and launched the new managed security solutions. We will also have expanded our existing channel, enabling us to promote growth across all areas of our business.”
Solving client challenges
What are the CISOs greatest concerns today?
“One of the main challenges, at the moment, is the whole way of working. We’ve got companies that have multiple locations around the world. Some countries are opening up, and people are going back to the office; some aren’t. You’ve still got some people who are using their home network.
“In effect, their home networks become your corporate network. What devices are they using at home? Their iPads, their lights, all things are attached to that network? How do you ensure that everything you have is secure, no matter where your employees are working? That potentially causes a bit of a headache for the majority of the CISOs of any large organisations today.”
How does NTT help to alleviate those challenges?
“We do a range of managed security solutions including endpoint device management solutions, advanced threat detection and so on. We also have an amazing pool of highly skilled cybersecurity consultants who work with clients to look at their challenges and individual needs. Where are people based? What does their return to work roadmap look like? We also give them all of the professional advice and guidance they would need to ensure that they had a secure by design solution to fit both the needs of the business and their staff.”
Forging a path in technology
You’ve had quite an interesting career looking. You did a law degree, worked in support, worked in sales, and jumped from the global client director to CRO. Is that apparently eclectic career path one of the reasons for your success?
“I’ve always had a five-year rolling plan. Whether a sideways move or an upwards move, every role that I’ve ever done has always taken me a step further to achieving my goals. I also have had and still have some amazing mentors who work in different industries and in different roles that I’ve met and entered into the programme with over the last 20 years.
“To me, that’s really important as sometimes when you come to a crossroads in your career, you need honest, open and impartial advice on what may be best for you to do.”
Can you give any advice for a woman looking to make their way in the industry?
“My advice to any women or anyone looking to make their way in this industry is simply to go for it. It’s a really, really interesting, fast-paced and rewarding industry to work in.
“Make sure you have some mentors that you trust and can give you honest, open and impartial advice. Look for a company that really supports diversity. The industry is changing, but we have a lot more to do. It is starting to become more and more diverse at all levels. And I am immensely proud to be part of that.”
Do barriers remain?
What are the biggest barriers to success for women in tech technology?
“That’s is a really interesting question. I’ve worked in this industry for over 20 years, and I’m now the CRO of NTT Security. I’ve always been really lucky because every company I’ve worked for has truly been inclusive and diverse.
“I sometimes think that the stigma of the industry can put diverse minorities off. That is one of those stereotypes that we really, really need to break. If we break those stereotypes, and we work to show the diversity that we offer, and we work to show that this is an all-inclusive industry, as companies, we will be very successful.”
The book question
What’s the latest book you read? And what was your business-related take out from it?
“The most recent book I read was by a gentleman called John Petrie. It’s called from private to CEO and some stuff in between (Amazon AUS, UK, US). It’s a really great book. It has some fantastic guiding principles on what makes a good leader.
“It’s also really interesting from a personal point of view, as it shows you how you can adapt your skills to change careers. To me, that is key. If somebody interested in a career in cybersecurity thinks, ‘Oh, well, I’ve not studied this or that at college or been to university, or that I don’t fit the typical stereotype and they think because of that they shouldn’t pursue a career in cyber, I would say definitely read John’s book.’
“John dropped out of school and was messing around with gangs. After speaking to his grandfather decided to do something completely different with his life and he enrolled in the US Marines at 17. Fast forward a few years and John was the CEO and president of NTT Security Americas. Now he is the counsellor to the NTT global CISO, liaison for NTT Limited and is responsible for managing the internal security challenges and rollouts across all of the NTT operating companies throughout the globe.”