Employee Spotlight: Donuts with David Brothers
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Here at Kenna Security we love recognizing the achievements of our employees, and we do so on a regular basis. Every quarter, however, we issue a special award (known as the Crush-IT Award) to one employee who we believe has gone above and beyond to positively impact our customers and model our company values. This week, we thought we’d shine our spotlight on a recent Crush-IT winner: David Brothers.
David is a customer success engineer (CSE) who truly exemplifies what it means to “Crush-IT” at Kenna. Combining a passion for technology with empathy and a desire to help others, David has played an invaluable role in the success and satisfaction of many of Kenna’s customers over the past three years. Even the toughest circumstances cannot deter David from going out of his way for Kenna’s customers. His colleagues have come to count on him as a dependable teammate, as well as a great teacher to those who are still learning the ropes. All in all, David’s attitude and achievements couldn’t be a better fit for Kenna’s values of Customer, Trust, and Character.
Q: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I’ve lived in Dallas, Texas, since 2000 with my wife.
Q: How did you come into this field of work?
I went into the customer relationship management (CRM) space right out of college and worked in professional services for several years for a number of small integrators. There was a typical pattern with these integrators at the time—one would get acquired by another that’s slightly bigger, and so on and so forth. My company was acquired a couple of times.
After I relocated to Texas, we were acquired by one of the CRM companies out of Vancouver, Canada, and we became their professional services for the company directly. I worked with them for a few years. With the downturn of the economy, unfortunately, they started closing down a lot of their professional services offices. They laid off most people in my office.
I ended up going to work for one of our customers, who had also worked with us in the past as a partner. I was there for a few years. I started as their CRM administrator but then became a jack-of-all-trades for them, doing a bit of everything, including being their SQL Server database administrator (DBA).
After that, I went to work for JC Penny for almost 11 years. I started as a SQL Server DBA and managed the SQL Server team for a couple of years. Eventually, I wanted to get back into an individual contributor role, and that’s when I went into cybersecurity. I spent nearly six years doing security for JCPenney, including rebuilding their vulnerability management program from the ground-up. Unfortunately, as a part of the rough ride that the company has had, JCPenney ended up laying off a majority of their security team. They downsized their IT security team from around 45 to 6 people.
That’s actually when I found Kenna Security. I was reading the company’s website and realized that we had been doing a bubblegum-paper clip version of the same thing at JCPenney. Kenna was looking for a customer success engineer (CSE) in San Francisco, but I decided to put my salesman hat on and sent an email to the company, telling them that they should make the position a remote one and hire me for it. I received an email back from Ed Bellis, our CTO and Co-Founder, and started talking to several people at the company. I was employee number 36 or 37, our CSE team was still pretty small. It’s been more than three years since then, and I’m still loving it.
Q: What keeps you motivated to get out of bed and come into work every morning?
The CSE job is very dynamic. There’s always something to do—an ever-growing task list. I’ve been here since the early days at Kenna, and the company has always had a “family” feel to it.
I also really love working with our customers, especially because I’ve been in their shoes. It’s been enlightening for me to come to understand common themes—5 or 6 things every company is battling. It fosters a sense of camaraderie. I get to help them, and I also get to learn from them, too.
Q: Why is Kenna Security the best place you’ve ever worked?
The spirit of family has been a common theme at Kenna, even throughout our growth as a company. This is my first job working remotely; I’ve typically been in an office or a customer site. Working remotely can be isolating at times. I consider myself an introvert, but I’m a very talkative person, and I really value being able to communicate with people. Thankfully, one of the things I feel we do really well here at Kenna is interacting and engaging frequently, thanks in large part to tools like Slack and Zoom. So even though we’re a bit more spread out these days, we still feel like we’re one family or one team working towards a common goal.
Q: Do you have any hidden talents or unusual hobbies?
I have many interests and I love to jump around from hobby to hobby. I love playing around with technology at work and off of work. I play around with the guitar (I don’t necessarily play the guitar – there’s a distinction). I love to get outdoors and exercise, and it’s something my wife and I do together. We just recently took a trip to Arizona for a hiking vacation. I love the mountains. Growing up in western North Carolina, I really miss the mountains here in Dallas—it’s very flat.
Q: What is your idea of a perfect weekend?
A perfect weekend would be well-balanced. A little bit of lazy, a little bit of socializing, and then some field trips, depending on what’s available. I love a good mix of social time and quiet time.
Q: What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
I knew going into high school and then college that I wanted to do something in computers, I just wasn’t quite sure what. I grew up in the 80s, and movies like War Games definitely influenced me a lot. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I enjoy teaching and public speaking, too. I participated in Toastmasters for a long time and really loved it.
Q: Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
The most interesting place I’ve ever been to is definitely the Philippines. My wife is Filipino, and we traveled there a couple of years ago. I got to experience the fourteen-hour flight, and I really loved seeing that part of the world. We went to a resort in Palawan and went island hopping on a small boat. We also got to do some snorkeling. The only downside was that It was quite hot, and I’ll never quite forget the taste of sunscreen and bug spray. But all in all, it was absolutely incredible.
I’ll add another vacation I really loved—a trip to Scotland last year. My wife and I had kids at quite a young age, and they’re college-age now, so we’re sort of living a working-retirement lifestyle. We booked a tour and, with both of us in our 40s, we were definitely the youngest on the tour. We got on a bus and were chartered around the country. We started in Glasgow and worked our way all the up and around Scotland and back down to Edinburgh, stopping at hotels and exploring. It was a whirlwind tour of the country, but now we know exactly where we want to go back to when we get a chance to go back.
Q: What are 5 must-have songs on your road trip playlist?
Whatever comes on the radio. I love the age-old practice of scanning the radio for the local stations. I like just about anything, but I’m a big Top 40, or Southern Rock fan. I’ll even go classical or oldies as well.
Q: French fries or salad?
Q: Morning or evening?
Q: Concert or Broadway play?
Q: Beach bungalow or mountain cabin?
Q: Superman or Batman?
Superman. No question. My son studies film, and we have often debated who would win between Superman and Batman. Obviously, it would be Superman. Batman only won in the movie because he cheated.
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