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From our sponsorIn addition to March being Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day (IWD) is observed annually on March 8. Every year, communities from across the world come together to honor the accomplishments of women and commemorate the progress that’s been made toward a more inclusive society by female leaders throughout the past century. Although there is still work to be done, the growing movement around International Women’s Day is all about activism and building support for women’s rights in all aspects of life.

To celebrate the occasion, we spoke with some of the incredible women in leadership at Barracuda to get their perspectives on International Women’s Day and their insights on topics such as gender equality and empowerment.

The meaning of this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Inspire Inclusion

“To me, this theme means ‘think bigger.’ It’s about ‘and,’ not ‘or.’ The opportunity to hear different perspectives and voices is the opportunity to arrive at better answers.” Erin Hintz, Chief Marketing Officer

“To me, inspiring inclusion means allowing people to be the best versions of themselves and letting people feel comfortable in their environments. Women should be able to express themselves in a way that they don’t feel judged, and the fear of judgment should not hold women back from reaching their full potential. There’s also a layer of diversity that comes into this — a diversity of thought that inspires others to think outside the box and be comfortable doing that because it’s acceptable, valuable, and important for cultivating an inclusive culture.” Kim Mota, SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer

“It means we have to be cognizant to drive inclusion. To inspire you have to find ways to motivate others to help drive inclusion. Some of the issues plaguing women in the workplace are systemic and not easy to solve overnight. It took a long time to build the glass ceiling, and it will likely take a while to break through. Being inspirational means finding ways to accelerate breaking glass!” Nicole Napiltonia, VP of Alliances and OEM Sales

Words of encouragement and advice for young women looking to break into tech or cybersecurity

“This is the most exciting industry to be in at the most pivotal time in history. Our industry is developing new tools and applications, growing incredible thought leaders, and dealing with some of the most challenging threat landscapes ever. Women have a place here; we have a voice and a seat at the table. Let’s continue to support each other’s journeys. I’m so proud of us and can’t wait to see where we go!” Siroui Mushegian, Chief Information Officer

“Build a network and ask for help. As you expand your network, you will meet many people who share their experiences or advice and open up the world of possibilities. Then, as you better understand where your interests lie, you can ask for help to gain experience and knowledge that will better enable you in your pursuits.” Erin Hintz

“My advice for young women seeking careers in tech or cybersecurity is to not be afraid to ask for more — more in the sense of responsibility, and be comfortable asking for forgiveness, not permission. That’s something that really resonates with me, and it wasn’t until I had my first child that this type of mentality truly clicked. So, it’s one piece of advice that I always like to share with others. The phrase, ‘fake it ‘til you make it,’ there’s a lot of truth to this because imposter syndrome predominantly impacts women, especially in many male-dominated fields like cybersecurity. There’s still a level of imposter syndrome I experience after becoming an executive and coming up through the ranks over the years. It’s just something that you can’t predict whether or not it will disappear. The message here is to believe in yourself because you know your potential, so don’t let others get into your head. Just trust your gut and go with what you know because doing so will get you to great places in life.” Kim Mota

“There are a few pieces of advice I have: 1) Enjoy what being in the cybersecurity space offers — a front-row seat to incredible innovation and very high applicability. 2) Keep your eye on the market. It moves fast, and keeping pace is an effort that’s worthwhile. GenAI is likely to accelerate the pace even more. 3) Develop your knowledge base and your technical skills. Consider getting certified. Gain work experience that supports your area(s) of interest.” Nicole Napiltonia

The women who act as inspirations in our lives

“I would say my mom inspires me the most because of the close relationship that we have. Growing up with her as a single parent all while watching her work full-time and manage our home life was inspiring. Her efforts and commitment to our family really showed that it’s possible to balance multiple responsibilities in life and that one person can truly do it all. Working moms in general are a motivation, regardless of their levels. Even I, myself, as an executive am a mom and have to juggle work and family duties, so it’s inspiring to see women with that type of balance be as successful as they are because decades ago, many didn’t have the ability to do more than be stay-at-home mothers. Thankfully, society has evolved, and women now have the power to contribute and do so much more.” Kim Mota

“I am inspired every day (it seems) by Taylor Swift. Yes, I am a Swiftie. Aside from her unmatchable talents and gifts for writing and performing music, she gives generously to her fans, employees, and charities, and stands up to bullies and for what she believes in. She also alters economies with the record-breaking magnitude of her fanbase. She is a force, and I appreciate her as a role model for my daughter, for me, and … for everyone.” Erin Hintz

“So many! I have been lucky to have been in the company of many great women, including female executives at AWS, Google, and Microsoft as examples. At this stage, I am really inspired by my peers at other ISVs. We have formed allegiances that foster support and give me ideas and tactics to help make inclusion more practical. And, I have to mention my grandmother who just turned 96. She had a great family life and always worked. She inspired me from a very early age and taught me how important it is to work and develop my career.” Nicole Napiltonia

Creating an environment that influences the participation of female-led leaders

“A great way to do this is to be a strong leader yourself. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, you can be a leader. Contributing as an individual is foundational to becoming a leader of others. It’s about making hard decisions, sticking with things you’d prefer to abandon, and looking at things through different lenses to drive the right outcomes. This foundation will give you the confidence to take on more responsibility and lead in new situations. It will help you surround yourself with other leaders and give you the elements required to work and lead, together.” Nicole Napiltonia

“We need to find opportunities to share our experiences and key learning moments — the more women hear about the journey others have taken, the more they will see their own potential and understand it’s not always a straight line but that the path to leadership can take many forms.” Erin Hintz

“My advice is this: You can do whatever you put your mind to. Take any opportunities to learn, even if it seems scary or outside of your usual remit. Find a mentor. If you have one, continue to leverage that person. If you don’t have one, reach into your network and ask someone you respect to meet with you regularly. Make sure you accept chances to work with the executives in your organization. This serves a dual purpose: First, you get a chance to shine for the leadership of your company, and second, you get a chance to learn from those who are at the helm of your ship. And finally, give yourself grace — every day won’t be easy. Remember, pressure makes diamonds.” Siroui Mushegian

“Making the opportunity realistic is key to encouraging women to pursue leadership roles throughout their professional journeys. This means letting women see a path and encouraging them to go down that road. From an encouragement standpoint, invest in resources for women (e.g. specific leadership training for females), and give women opportunities that they don’t explicitly ask for because bringing forward opportunities versus waiting for them to come and ask would go a long way. Again, when there’s this trend of seeing other women succeed in leadership roles, it creates additional inspiration and excitement for others to do the same. However, we must first establish paths for women to succeed (e.g., making areas like STEM more accessible and exciting for women).” Kim Mota

International Women’s Day celebrations at Barracuda

This week, teams from across our global offices also came together to celebrate International Women’s Day and recognize the collective successes, sacrifices, and struggles women have experienced throughout the past 100-plus years. At Barracuda, we commemorate International Women’s Day in alignment with one of our core values, Succeed Together, and we’re proud to honor the remarkable contributions and resiliency of women worldwide. We’re dedicated to advocating for greater gender diversity, equity, and inclusion on this IWD (and every day!).



Photo: GaudiLab / Shutterstock

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Rosey Saini

Posted by Rosey Saini

Rosey is a marketing intern at Barracuda. She is also an undergraduate student at San Jose State University, studying Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.

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