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Executive Spotlight: James Yeager, VP of Public Sector and Healthcare at CrowdStrike

Executive Spotlight: James Yeager, VP of Public Sector and Healthcare at CrowdStrike - top government contractors - best government contracting event

James Yeager, vice president of public sector and healthcare at CrowdStrike, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about how the company ensures the long term success for its workforce as well as the implementation of recent acquisitions like Preempt Security and Humio during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.

“At CrowdStrike, we focus on our customers first. We invest our time and energy into the customer base and we are constantly searching for ways to partner with our customers to drive them to the most optimal outcomes for their security program. We’ve had a rather explosive period of growth in every single vertical segment and across the public sector.

We have a dominant position in the SLED space with over 25 states standardized on the CrowdStrike platform.  We have also established a leading position in the Federal market relative to EPP and other aspects of next generation security. These are both segments where I anticipate considerable growth in 2022 and beyond.”

You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with James Yeager below:

ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the implementation of recent acquisitions you’ve made and how they’ve benefited your portfolio, technical capabilities and driven value for your company and customers?

James Yeager: “I have been doing this for some time and I can tell you that every company goes through a process of assessing their growth strategy. Building organically versus growing through acquisitions and strategic partnerships. The main concept that is examined is how to effectively develop the most well-rounded and comprehensive portfolio for your customers.

CrowdStrike has been very cognizant to strike the right balance between organic engineering and product development as well as acquiring capabilities that fit tongue and groove into our strategy – a strategy that is purely focused on helping customers achieve their intended outcomes.

And then when you combine all of that with our vision and our understanding of the threat landscape, we confidently arrive at a place that allows us to invest wisely and in an impactful way. To that end, I would highlight two areas where CrowdStrike has made considerable investments recently.

The first is with our acquisition of Preempt Security, a leading provider of Zero Trust and identity protection capabilities. Identity is at the core of so many conversations today, mainly because we all recognize that it is a prominent threat vector.

Statistically speaking, more than 80 percent of all attacks involve credentials use or misuse in the network. So, CrowdStrike made a strategic investment that now allows our customers to bridge the gap that has historically existed between visibility of adversary behavior within their enterprise and user-based behavior, whether that be malicious or not.

Both of these are critical elements to stopping breaches and now we have brought them together to tell a more holistic and comprehensive story about what is truly going on inside the customer’s environment.

The next area of focus is with big data, artificial intelligence and XDR, where we can point to our recent acquisition of Humio.

There is so much data being consumed these days. In many ways, we are living in a data revolution of sorts, but the key is how can we help our customers make sense of the data?  How can we empower them with data that tells the right story and with data that is actionable?

And finally, how can we do this in a highly efficient and economical way? We have been hearing for years that our customers are growing tired of the technical approach and the licensing models of the current players who have dominated this space.

The truth is that if you listen carefully to your customers, they will tell you what they need, and in this case, they are practically begging for alternatives.  Fortunately, we are in position to help them here in more ways than one.”

ExecutiveBiz: What do you see as the most critical challenges facing those in the federal sector as cybersecurity continues to rise in importance and cyber hygiene becomes a necessity for all companies and even more critical at the national security level?

James Yeager: “The good news is that quite possibly the largest lens ever currently hovers over the cybersecurity space, with an acute focus on national security and critical infrastructure. Like it or not, cyber incidents are here to stay for the long term. Recent cyber events like Log4J, SolarWinds and others garner the type of national and global exposure that tends to draw both good and bad IT attention.

In the end, it often requires times of crises in order to shake the trees and get people to understand what’s really happening. I believe the current administration has done a fabulous job in this arena with some very important cyber appointees as well as establishing some new positions in cyber that didn’t exist historically.

There’s been a lot of chatter out there for the last year about the executive order on cybersecurity, binding operational directives as well as empowering policies and authorities that have been granted. I’d point to the new authorities that CISA has been granted, allowing them to hunt on other government networks. This is just one of many examples where progress has been made.

The fact is that now far more than ever before we have an issue that is widely recognized and a deeper understanding of a problem we have been confronted with for decades. At the same time, I’m seeing this as a ‘be careful what you wish for’ situation for the federal government.

It’s been the talk of the town for years that federal agencies have been complaining about being underfunded and under-resourced. For the longest time, those excuses were absolutely valid, but that claim can’t necessarily be made anymore.

The key will be what does the government do with all of these resources, energy and momentum. I am confident they will take full advantage of this opportunity to truly innovate. The government now has the capacity to acquire the tools required to compete more effectively with the adversary.

They have the high-level support they need to develop a strategy that is empowered by the vision and foresight of what the challenges of tomorrow look like, instead of chasing the challenges of yesterday.

We need to witness the government evolve from decades of technical antiquity that has always been a barrier for transformation, agility and speed. We need our government to plan for and develop the type of resilience that is required to compete effectively on the modern stage.

And let me be clear, this is not a matter of ‘can’ the government be a part of this evolution, it’s purely a matter of ‘will’.  Because make no mistake about it, the adversary is unrelenting, they are determined, they are highly motivated and they will spare nothing to wreak their havoc.”

ExecutiveBiz: How does CrowdStrike ensure long term success for your workforce to drive value for your employees as you continue to face the uphill challenge to recruit and retain the best talent in the federal marketplace?

James Yeager: “The considerable lack of capacity in the cyber workforce has been well documented. Fortunately for CrowdStrike, recruiting and retention are not a tremendous challenge for us. Truthfully, acquiring talent hasn’t been an issue since I arrived here six years ago.

Our turnover is also minimal, well below industry standards. People who come to work for CrowdStrike, typically stay with us for a long time, which is a luxury not every company has. We’re very grateful for that fact.

But, you cannot become complacent. You cannot get too comfortable. Because when you assume all is well, you tend to lose sight of all of the essential details that enabled you to attract your talent in the first place.

We have an amazing executive leadership team. I commented earlier about our acquisitions and the strength of our technical vision. Our executive team also puts a tremendous premium on corporate culture.  We take great pride in how we nurture our culture.

We listen to our employees and we pay a lot of attention to their needs. We want our employees to always be looking for new challenges and we know they value an environment where their skills and talent will be both harnessed and put to the test on a daily basis.  All of this makes CrowdStrike a desirable place to work for thousands of employees across the globe.

A trend that I find incredibly compelling is the overwhelming number of individuals, once customers, who have left their government jobs to join CrowdStrike. The reason is simple – as a customer they were blown away by our capabilities and they want to be a part of something special.

They want to be behind the curtain. They believe in our approach to problem solving, and for me personally, that’s exactly why I love coming to work at CrowdStrike every day. We have an incredible amount of interest from people wanting to join the CrowdStrike family. They want to work for the best and they want to work around the best.

Now let’s look at this from the perspective of recruiting and retention in the federal government. Generally speaking, the talented people in our industry want to work with the sharpest tools and the most modern and innovative technology.

The federal government is one of the largest employers in the world.  These men and women are not doing it for the money. It’s about the mission. So many people want to be a part of a greater cause, but they also want to be put in the best position to have a lasting impact.

But the feedback from so many former government employees, former cyber operators, is that they feel they are going into battle each and every day at a significant disadvantage. They care deeply for their mission, but they also feel as if they are not prepared and are not well-equipped to fulfil the obligations of the mission.

In the end, they find themselves looking for a change of scenery, a new home where they have confidence they can stand up and deliver when it matters most.

Now we all know there is quite a bit of complexity to this topic, and on many levels. Nobody would suggest overcoming this will be easy. However, this is an area the federal government needs to focus on heavily because I think it solves a number of challenges they face in the realm of modernizing the cyber workforce and in the human capital arena broadly.”

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Written by William McCormick

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