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Five-minute interview: Fiona Doak, Appgate

The latest to give MicroScope an insight into their life and career is Fiona Doak, director of channel sales EMEA at Appgate

Morning, Fiona, tell us what you do for a living

My name is Fiona Doak and I am the director of channel sales EMEA at Appgate. I manage, develop and enhance partner strategy across EMEA, and I proactively support the Appgate channel-first strategy.  

Why are you the right person for this job?

I have been in the industry for over 25 years now and have always had a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) interest in security.

People often comment on the passion I show for the work I do, and I can genuinely say I enjoy my job. I take great pride in my ability to work with the channel and different partners, and I enjoy the fact that I can proactively support organisations in achieving their business goals.

I have seen a great change throughout the years in the security industry and even remember when VPNs were invented! But, throughout the advancements and innovations we have seen within the industry, I have still managed to maintain an interest and a passion for my job.

What gets you up in the morning?

I am still surprised by my motivation to do this job through all the change I have seen. I enjoy being able to find new and innovative ways of managing and developing a channel and there is a lot of personal reward and pride seeing something grow when you know you had a part to play.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

There are so many people who have helped me get to where I am today that I can’t possibly mention them all. However, I owe my career to those who recognised I had a talent and gave me a chance.

I didn’t start my career in IT – it was something I fell into. I actually started my career as a secretary, but I was lucky enough to work for people who saw I had a talent and helped nurture that talent.

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?

The best advice I have received is “it’s easier to seek forgiveness than permission”.

The worst advice I received is “you can do it alone”. Early in my career, I took this advice and believed I could work with a partner by myself. Needless to say, it didn’t go well, but I was lucky that I had an understanding boss, who was grateful that I confessed my error.

I learnt an important lesson, though – there is a reason why you are part of a team at work. There is no point in insisting on doing it alone, so instead, involve the people you need to involve to achieve the desired result. It’s all about owning our mistakes and growing from them.  

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?

The advice I would give to those starting out in IT today is to listen and absorb all the information you can. If possible, look for a mentor within your organisation or another organisation who you respect, can use as soundboard and can learn from.

I have mentored people in previous companies and continue to do so at Appgate. Having a mentor to learn from and confide in is an invaluable experience.

Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning ‘digital transformation’?

Yes, absolutely! There are far more interesting conversations to have in IT where you don’t mention those words.

What does the next five years hold for the channel?

The opportunity for the security market within the channel will be radically different to what we have previously known. There is now an opportunity for the channel to embrace the changes and the challenges we are seeing within the security industry and become the trusted adviser to customers.

The channel used to offer quite generic security solutions and we were servicing a perimeter that no longer exists. As we move into a perimeter-less world, organisations are facing challenges where they have to provide a security solution that adapts to users.

The opportunity for the channel is therefore huge because it can become the source for organisations looking for trusted advisers who offer solutions that they actually want and need in this ever-changing world.

“There is now an opportunity for the channel to embrace the changes and the challenges we are seeing within the security industry”

Fiona Doak, Appgate

Tell us something most people do not know about you

I once accidentally tumble-dried my cat! It did, thankfully, survive.

It was a number of years ago now and I was sharing a flat with a friend. One night, we decided to go for dinner and before I left, I picked up some clothes and towels from the washing basket and put them into the tumble dryer to dry, and off I went for dinner.

When I came back, I emptied the dryer and out tumbled my now incredibly fluffy cat. A number of vet bills (and tears) later, he was absolutely fine and lived for another 10 years! Although he never went near the tumble dryer again…

What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?

I’d like to travel to places I’ve been to on business trips but have never got the chance to properly explore. Places like Krakow and Vienna would be brilliant.

My partner and I would also like to cycle the Pacific Coast Way, which is ambitious but something we’ve always wanted to do as we love cycling.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

I really enjoy reading Macbeth. It is an incredibly weird play, but I have read it so many times because I enjoy it so much.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

 The Smurfs Movie – I accidentally fell asleep when I took my daughter to watch it!   

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

There are several: Hotel California by the Eagles, Yesterday Once More by The Carpenters, Blue by Joni Mitchell.

I also enjoy any song by Ed Sheeran, anything by Don Henley and love Spandau Ballet and Keith Urban.

What temptation can you not resist?

Wine!

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?

My first car was a Morris Marina. It simply doesn’t compare to the car I drive now, which is an Audi A3 convertible – they’re like night and day.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?

Donald Trump – for obvious reasons.

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?

I’d be a cat because they’re independent and fickle – they come and go as they please and generally look like they lead a very lovely life!

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?

I would want a wizard like Dumbledor to magic me out of the situation! He’s the best wizard there is, and he has Fawkes the phoenix, who can also help me out of the awesome peril I have found myself in.

And finally, a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla are getting ready for a no-holds-barred rumble. Who is your money on and why?

My money would be on the silverback gorilla because they are more agile and they have speed on their side! Bears are too clumsy and not supple enough, even though they can also run fast.

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