Expanse is pleased to welcome our new Chief Revenue Officer, Kane Lightowler. Kane has previously held senior leadership roles with VMware Carbon Black and Imperva, where he successfully led and scaled global sales teams. He has a wealth of experience growing cybersecurity organizations globally, and shares the Expanse vision of making the Internet a safer place for the world’s largest organizations. We recently sat down with Kane to chat about his background, what brought him to Expanse, the future of cybersecurity, and more.
Question: What made you excited to join the Expanse team?
Kane: When I first learned about the problem statement that attack surface management solves for large organizations it instantly resonated with me as from my early career experience of building a successful security assessment business. I know first hand how hard it is for CISOs to effectively prevent intrusions launched by motivated adversaries.
My inquisitive nature then led me to speak to a number of leading CISOs across the industry who validated my passion for the problem statement, and most importantly shared how Expanse’s team were partnering so closely with them to solve their toughest security challenges. When I learned of the passion for the technology and the team from some of the leading CISOs amongst the Fortune 500, I knew I had to be a part of the Expanse team.
Question: How and when did you first discover your passion for cybersecurity?
Kane: As a child growing up, I had almost an instinctive curiosity which led me to pull things apart and see how I may be able to improve them or make them perform a task not originally designed for. Following school, this curiosity powered my career and afforded me the opportunity to apply my skills practically to protect large enterprises whilst leveraging my business background. Today I consider myself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to apply my career and business acumen alongside my primary interest in cybersecurity.
Question: How is the role of Chief Revenue Officer different from a traditional Head of Sales role?
Kane: The Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) role differs simply from a traditional sales leader in that a CRO has responsibility for all revenue generating functions of a business. Whilst a traditional sales leader has responsibility only over the sales teams and their execution, a CRO leads all go-to-market functions such as Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, GTM Operations and Distribution channels. This executive-level role is crucial to aligning these critical departments ensuring they are executing in one aligned direction.
Question: How has the role of sales leadership changed? What predictions do you have for the future of virtual selling?
Kane: Sales leadership is a far shot away from where it was when I joined the industry. Today, a successful sales leader’s primary job function is to recruit, enable, and inspire his or her team to solve customer problems more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Highly effective sales leaders focus more time interacting and understanding their customers and coaching their teams than ever before.
Question: Do you have any standout technology predictions/hot takes for the future of the cybersecurity space?
Kane: Digital transformation continues to drastically change the digital footprint of organizations and 2020 has accelerated this at a rate of change never seen before. This rapid bifurcation will continue driven primarily by the macro technology trends of mobility, cloud adoption, and the rapid dissolution of the network security perimeter. Attackers are already making the most of this situation and will continue to successfully exploit the lack of alignment within large enterprises’ technology teams today that lead to inefficiencies in basic cyber hygiene and Internet inventory management.
Question: How has international sales experience across international regions such as Asia Pacific and Japan molded the way you approach building and growing sales teams?
Kane: Building an international business is incredibly challenging and rewarding at the same time. On one hand, you should build a business that aligns to the same execution strategies and goals of your corporate headquarters. But on the other hand, local market knowledge and strategic planning are required to ensure you are navigating local region dynamics. In a region as diverse as Asia Pacific and Japan, you are dealing with numerous different languages, economic dynamics, and cultural norms, to name a few. The key to major success is ensuring you build a specific aligned go-to-market plan for each region. The same lessons apply here in the U.S. when building regional businesses; for example building a successful regional business within New York City likely requires a very different strategy to building a successful regional business across Southern California. Whilst the strategy and focus are important, many sales teams fall short by not aligning the cross-functional teams that play a major role in the success of that business.
Expanse: What is your favorite strategy/hack for staying productive while working remotely?
Kane: I try to weave a bit of exercise into my day to break up the 12-plus hours of back-to-back Zoom meetings. When scheduled for a one-to-one meeting where I am required to be focused on nothing other than the conversation at hand, I take my call walking around the neighborhood. Whilst doing so, I am getting the blood pumping and giving my body the boost it is craving but at the same time, I am ensuring that I am 100% applied and focused on the conversation I am having as I have removed any office (or home…) distractions.
Question: What are you most looking forward to in your first year with Expanse?
Kane: Getting to know as many of the extended team members as possible and meeting every one of our customers.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Kane: There is nothing better in this world than jumping on a motorbike and going for a ride. Some of my best memories are taking road trips by bike with a group of friends and taking in all of the sights and sounds. One day, I would love to take a pan-continental trip across the globe and see a large amount of sights “off the beaten track.”