Leadership has always been the road not taken. It is the most challenging journey of all human endeavours. Accepting such a rollercoaster ride requires strong decision-making ability with an optimistic mindset. It is natural to site such virtues in every entrepreneur who has made a positive difference.
Having the zeal to lead and inspire with a unique ability to look ahead of the curve is Kimberly Simon. She is a global leader in cybersecurity compliance and a huge technology innovation champion. She combines her excellent ability to build relationships with her extensive knowledge and experience in Cybersecurity, Marketing, and Sales – Kimberly transforms how leaders and individuals relate to cybersecurity compliance. She pioneers for more compliance adoption and for people to learn about cybersecurity and explore the opportunities in the industry. Kimberly has just launched her book, “Case for Investing in Cybersecurity Compliance.”
As Vice President of ControlCase—Cybersecurity Certification and Compliance Services, Kimberly has enjoyed leading the company for the past nine years and counting. She is a phenomenal Keynote Speaker who educates and facilitates discussions on how companies can adopt cybersecurity compliance in order to lower risk, increase cybersecurity maturity and gain competitive advantage.
Let’s learn more about Kimberly:
Kindly brief our readers about yourself and your professional journey so far.
I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and grew up in a big family surrounded by my mother, her siblings, and their children. At 11, l moved to London, England, and completed high school and college. I got my bachelor ’s Degree at 22 and couldn’t wait to explore the world. I presented well, and l had the gift of building relationships. I am also a “tasker or activator” by nature, so once I decide, I move very quickly.
I had decided l wanted to work in Marketing and Events, and l was lucky enough to secure a position in an Events & Marketing role for a cybersecurity compliance firm. The field was exciting, the industry was fast-paced, and most importantly, there were opportunities for me to travel.
My first business trip took me to Dubai, UAE, where l felt at home in the emerging economy. I took a leap of faith and migrated there for two years. After that, l searched for more adventure and different lessons. Life took me to Washington DC, USA, where l stayed for six months exploring and learning about business and building professional relationships in North America (which is very different from Europe or The Middle East) before moving back to England.
In London, l reached out to a contact l had made in Dubai and secured an interview (and later a position) with ControlCase. At the time (June 2013), l was the only one in the Marketing & Events Department. I relished being busy, meeting new people, the travel, the opportunities (and sometimes even the challenges), and, of course, the growth of cybersecurity discussions around the globe. I had finally found my place; l was in an Events & Marketing role for a Cybersecurity Compliance company and traveling the world. I didn’t want to be anywhere else.
Fast forward to today – nine years later, l am still happy at ControlCase. I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that opened the company’s Toronto, Canada office. The assignment was supposed to be just for a year, but I fell in love with Toronto, the place l now call home. The company had grown from less than 50 people when l joined; to a team of over 300 experts today. It has been a blessing to grow with Control Case.
Please tell us about your company, its mission, and its vision. What role did you play in furthering its development and outreach?
Control Case is a global provider of cybersecurity certification and continuous compliance services. The company’s mission has always been to make cybersecurity compliance easy. We deliver the most efficient and effective IT Security compliance services worldwide through automation, process innovation, and our global workforce. My role started in the marketing arm and has morphed into much more. I built a lot of our content over the years and worked with the team to find innovative ways to communicate our value proposition and grow the company. About three years in (when that itch for new knowledge and a fresh challenge came about), we added Sales and Strategic Partnerships to my role, making me an all-rounder. I have generated extensive expertise and experience in building solutions, effectively communicating value, nurturing relationships, and closing millions of dollars in revenue. Today, I am one of Control Case’s top new business revenue generators. I am proud to say that I have been a part of the company’s growth for over nine years, and I am still enjoying the ride.
What was your inspiration to step into the industry that you are now serving?
After college, I had no idea what industry I would end up in; but I knew it had to be exciting, fast-paced, relevant, profitable, and require that I build relationships to succeed. A good bonus would be the opportunity to travel.
My early career in London was mostly with non-profit organizations. While I found my work with non-profits challenging and fulfilling, I came alive when I took my first corporate job.
While I had not planned to end up in Cybersecurity Compliance, I had to learn the industry to secure my place and grow. It turned out to be the best place for me. I was inspired to stay in the industry because it ticked all the boxes I had dreamt of after college. I was blessed to report to the Founder of Control Case when I first joined – he’s a true leader committed to sharing knowledge and seeing us all grow. I learned about the industry, the challenges people face, the solutions they must choose from, and what drives success. I am motivated because the industry is everevolving, exciting, and full of opportunities.
Please tell us about the products, services, and solutions offered by your company. And how do they stand out in the industry?
Control Case helps companies strengthen their security programs by offering cybersecurity assessments to industry standards that protect data, including PCI DSS, SOC 2, ISO 27001, NIST, and HITRUST. Our competitors typically offer only a subset of the portfolio of cybersecurity frameworks we cover, lack the technology to automate evidence collection for audits, lack the innovation that allows us to perform one audit and certify to multiple standards, and lack the global expertise that comes from our incredibly diverse team across the globe.
Tell our readers about the major challenges in your career, and how they aided you in developing your leadership skills?
The major challenges in my career have been around my identity. Being an immigrant, being black, being a woman, being young, and coming from a family with no corporate contacts that I could leverage. All these things that make up who I am sometimes mean that I am overlooked for opportunities, ignored, and often underestimated. These things have also made me the strong leader I am today.
I start with myself – I’m constantly evaluating the conversations I have with myself and managing my imposter syndrome. I must believe in myself and my team and speak up when necessary. Then I extend to others – I have matured in my ability to build the right network and find mentors and champions that inspire my growth; that takes strength, resilience, patience, and faith. Finally, my challenges have aided me in developing the unique ability to understand things from different perspectives and use relationships to get people moving in the same direction.
As an experienced leader, what advice would you like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who wish to venture into the industry that you are in?
The best advice I can share is:
Be coachable and resilient. There is always something new to learn, and you must be willing to follow through, honor your word and do the work.
Work on your confidence. You have no say in where you came from, but you’re in charge of where you’re going. My friend Chenai Kadungure always says “Other people can reject you, but don’t ever reject yourself.” Have faith and take the chance – all you have to do is take the first step, the one after that, and after that.
Build a network of the right people. We all know ships sink because of the water that gets into them. A conversation can change your entire mood, day, direction, and life. Be a person who uplifts others so that you can attract those types of people for yourself.
Leave breadcrumbs for others to follow. Remember those starting as you walk your journey. Share your story, opportunities, vision, and challenges; you never know who is listening and what can happen.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I’m blessed to have a good position with a great company where I feel valued and encouraged to learn. I am supported to grow my expertise and personal brand. As such, I have a speaking and authorship practice that weaves into what the company is trying to achieve so that we benefit from aligned goals, which keeps me motivated. For the future, I intend to keep the momentum for my personal growth and focus on global impact – keep learning, keep speaking, keep writing, and of course, keep growing my network of the right people.
Research & Accomplishments
I have just completed my book titled “Case for Investing in Cybersecurity Compliance.” It is an excellent introduction to Cybersecurity Compliance. It provides the history of compliance, introduces the reader to cybersecurity frameworks, and discusses the challenges and benefits of adopting compliance. The book essentially informs leaders on the benefits of investing in cybersecurity compliance. However, the book also prepares readers for a thriving Compliance Marketing, Sales, or Project Management position.