We need more women in technology
Dee Dee Acquista, SVP, Global Channels at BeyondTrust, speaking with Channel Post MEA elaborated on her career journey and love for technology.
Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
I love building teams. Identifying and hiring strong channel talent who enjoy working together and supporting one another is important to me. I am proud to say that a handful of highly effective former employees have flourished into strong channel leaders.
My leadership style has changed over the years. I’ve learned from some of the best, and have taken my share of notes regarding dos and don’ts. I strive to lead by example and I also try to keep things in perspective. I appreciate that each employees’ approach may be different from mine and I am good with that. I place a great deal of trust in members of my team and have rarely been disappointed in 16 years of leading channel teams in the technology industry.
What made you choose IT as a career opportunity?
Not sure I chose IT, more like IT chose me. I entered college intending to go to law school to study software patent law. My parents, both educators and at the time, were teaching technology. It was all I knew. My Dad did some adjunct & continuing education classes for a few local colleges and every once in a while he’d talk me into helping. We’d have to set up 25 Macs in a ballroom in a hotel and then he would teach and we’d pack them up until the next class. This was in the early ’90s. It was fun — seeing him show teachers how technology could help them, getting them comfortable using it and seeing the light bulbs go off.
Then during my first year of college, I took a part-time job as the resident ‘expert on Apple’ in a retail computer dealership. I met all the manufacturer reps from IBM, NEC, Apple, and thought that could be a fun job. I pursued an Apple Student Rep job on campus at Florida State University and sold Macs to students, faculty, and staff and never looked back. Working at Apple was all I wanted to do. I took my first role with Apple in Austin, Texas in 1993. Leaving behind my family and friends and moving to a city where I knew no one, probably should have been an opportunity for a pause, but as I recall I did not even hesitate.
How has your unique background prepared you for success in the industry?
I strongly believe that starting at Apple prepared me. The people were smart, they worked hard and they were fun. We were making a difference and we knew it. I am extremely appreciative that I got to start my career at Apple (I still worship that place), and that I had strong female leadership from day one in this business, from Stacy Erb at Apple through to Tracey Newell and Luanne Tierney at Proofpoint.
What was your most interesting job?
While I waited for Apple to lift a hiring freeze in 1993, I took an interim job for about 10 months working for RSR Wholesale. They were, at the time, the largest wholesale firearm company in the country. The owners were dabbling in white label computer sales, so I took a role selling PCs (yes, you read that right, not Macs). What you sold as a sales rep you had to build. So if I sold 25 computers to a law firm, I had to physically build them myself. This process was a great way to get a deep understanding of the technology.
What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of computer technology?
If you enjoy a fast pace and ever-changing market, this is the place for you. We need more women in this business. Remember, it does not matter what you major-ed in. I have loads of peers with degrees in psychology, education, etc. Strong communication skills, ability to work cross-functionally, showing up and adding value every day, that is what is needed.
What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
There have been many. Keeping it recent, and while I am not sure it is the greatest, the one I find the most interesting would be the advent of the app store. These easy to access and consumable solutions have made life so much easier. I rely on these personally and professionally every day. ‘Time buddy’ is my buddy with all of my global work, I am a weather channel junkie, and maps, don’t even get me started about maps!
What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
After 16 years in security, I spend a lot of my time focused on cybersecurity. One thing that is clear to me is that there is always the need for innovation. The bad guys are getting smarter and we’ve all got to strive to help protect our assets. As security relates to GTM, I think we will continue to see more and more customers get comfortable with cloud and SaaS.
On a personal note, given all my years at Apple, and having a husband who is still there after 34 years, consumer solutions that are designed to make our lives easier is extremely interesting to me. I am excited to see what is next to come in the area of consumer and smart home technology options. My husband and I are in the beginning stages of building a modern home and I am keen to ensure we have all of the latest technology.
What’s next for you in terms of your career in the tech industry?
I’ve got plenty to keep me busy at BeyondTrust. Would love to serve on a board, opportunities have presented themselves but I’ve never pursued them. The timing is right, personally, to take on a bit more.