Women in Digital: Cathryn Miller

Cathryn Miller, Rubrik head of public sector, UK, talks learning on the job, what makes a good leader and what she wishes she had known early in her career.

Posted 4 April 2022 by Christine Horton

Did you enjoy school?

Yes, school was a great time for me, I loved to learn. I did struggle at times though. The hardest part of my education was the transition to a sixth form college. I struggled with my A-levels, I don’t think I was expecting the dramatic shift in difficulty that came with the territory.

I did have some amazing times at school though, a lot involved the additional school activities, and there was a lot! Choir, even though I can’t hold a note, cricket, and so much more.

What qualifications do you have?

I got a HNC in Business Admin and Marketing, but what I would have loved to have been able to experience was an apprenticeship. I see how the schemes have improved and grown over the last few years, and I am slightly envious that I didn’t get the chance to experience an alternative to the traditional education route.

I have been able to learn on the job, and have been doing so for over 20 years, and that continued when I moved to Rubrik in 2019, where I’ve had the opportunity to keep growing, learning and improving my craft.

Has your career path been a smooth transition, a rocky road or a combination of both?

Absolutely a combination of both! I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who, when thinking about their career choices, said I want to be in sales… Think about it, have you ever heard someone say that? But, hand on heart, once I fell into a sales role, I haven’t looked back. Moving to sales gave me so much personal and professional satisfaction, I couldn’t think of anything better.

With that said, I do wish that earlier in my career I’d have thought about who I wanted to work for and been more structured about how I went about that. There is a need when you start out to move, and improve, as quickly as possible, but part of achieving that is assuring that you have the latest and greatest team around you. The move into sales management gives me personally a lot of satisfaction.

What is the best career advice you can give to others?

Find a coach, mentor and if you can, sponsor early in your career. This can help you really understand yourself and what options are open to you, it did for me at least.

If you had to pick one mentor that had the biggest influence on you, who would it be?

I had a mentor about five years ago who really made me think about what I wanted to do and with that came a fair amount of self-reflection. Sometimes those conversations weren’t easy but I’m so grateful that we had them.

In my current company there are so many stand-out individuals that I’ve learnt so much from and wish I’d met them earlier in my career!

From where do you draw inspiration?

I cannot pinpoint one place I draw inspiration; I would honestly say I draw it from lots of places and it’s changed over the years.

From individuals early in my career that I took a little bit of knowledge and inspiration from whilst I found my own way to more great industry leaders. The other biggest inspiration for me is my team. They truly inspire me to ensure I’m doing the best for them and by them. I try to be an inspiration for them, and enable them to inspire me as we move forward.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced to date?

Learning to balance work and family life and realising it’s ok to say no to ensure that you protect both.

What qualities do you feel makes a good leader?

I always try to establish myself as a leader, never just a manager. I found over the years that by treating everyone as an individual and giving people the confidence to stretch themselves even when it feels uncomfortable.

From a work viewpoint what has the last 12 months been like?

Whilst it’s been incredibly challenging there have been some huge highs that I’m incredibly proud of. Personally, I became a mum for a second time in June 2020. It was such a different experience from when my son was born. I was home and present instead of leaving on a Monday and not returning until Thursday. And whilst that came about from the pandemic, I’ll be forever grateful that I got to experience the time I lost out on when I had my son.

Professionally, we have seen significant growth in the team. Onboarding four salespeople without being able to meet them has been hard, not only for the team, but for them personally. It’s hard to understand the struggles new starters went through starting their careers during a pandemic, but the individuals who started with me have shined.

We have also seemed to have found the right cultural balance in the team, which enables us to be able to help new starters feel part of something familiar and succeed quickly.

What would you say are the biggest tech-based challenges we face today?

Ransomware attacks were once reserved for those with coding credentials and a certain level of technical expertise, whereas now it is readily available across the dark web. This has resulted in a more aggressive and more frequent ‘sprayed attack’ approach compared to the targeted attempts of yesteryear.

The past two years have firmly cemented the notion that ransomware is a case of when, not if, and the public sector is a continued target. The relentless threat of ransomware on our public services and the devastating effect on those organisations, employees and the citizens, patients and students is something we need to work to overcome, through continued education, detection and protection.

Give us a fact about you that most other people wouldn’t know.

I am a qualified scuba diver! I learnt in Thailand, and I loved it. One condition: it has to be warm!