Meet the founder and CEO of ReynCon, Connie Matthews Reynolds. With more than two decades of experience in the cyber security industry, she has received much recognition for her work. As a founding member of EmpoWE-R Women of InfoSec, she encourages women and minorities to consider careers in cyber security and lives by the motto “pay it forward.” In this interview, Connie shares a bit about her journey, her setbacks, and her insights into becoming a business and technology leader.

Please tell us about your exciting journey in becoming the founder and CEO of ReynCon:

I started in the cyber security industry 18 years ago. People are the driving force for everything we do, and I wanted to provide an agile approach to building teams. With the ever-changing security landscape, companies understand that we have to invest in training our teams. As a people first leader, I wanted to provide a way for companies to train and develop their teams.  These are a few reasons that drove me to start my company.

Would you like to talk about some of the recognition you have received for your work?

I’ve received the following awards from the following organizations:

  • Shaping the Future by EmpoWE-R Women of InfoSec
  • Community Leader — Columbus, Ohio, for Leadership
  • Recognized Senior Member — ISSA International
  • Chapter of the Year — Medium-Sized Chapter —
  • ISSA Internationally
  • Comspark — Community Impact Finalist
  • Volunteer of the Year — ISSA International
  • Named 181 Top Women in Cybersecurity to follow on Twitter — Cybercrime Magazine
  • Named as Who’s Who to follow in Columbus Business First

What values do you lead with?

Servant leadership, people first, creating partnerships and being a trusted advisor to my clients and partners.

What did you/do you like about building your own company?

I love helping people and creating solutions to solve business problems and benefit the team and the companies that I serve. My business has allowed me to help my clients by being flexible and agile.

What challenges or setbacks did you face in establishing your own company, and how did you overcome them?

I always knew I was capable of owning a business. My doubts came from not being a practitioner throughout my journey, and I wanted to make sure I was seen as knowledgeable and respected by my peers. It was also important that I would bring value to the table. I realized that I did give value and could do this.

You are a founding member of EmpoWE-R Women of InfoSec. What has this experience been like for you, and how does it tie into your business goals, if at all?

EmpoWE-R Women of InfoSec was an idea that I wanted to start, and I asked others to join me as founding members. I have always wanted to encourage women and minorities to consider careers in cyber. I live by the motto of “Pay Forward.” My involvement in Empower and other non-profits has opened doors to meeting industry leaders and peers.

How can we address the gender pay gap at an international level, national level, organizational level…etc.?

As I have mentored many women over the course of my career, many have told me they underestimate their value and, at times, are afraid to ask for what they deserve to make. Do your research and find out what roles pay, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve. I have always said that you will never know the potential if you don’t ask. Companies should offer ranges of what roles pay, which can be the first part of negotiating your salary.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up, and how did that vision change over time toward even bigger and more ambitious dreams?

I knew I always liked being around people and helping others. My goal when I was younger was to be an interior designer; that side of myself has allowed me to be pretty creative in the things I do.

How can younger professionals grow to see themselves as leaders, even though they perhaps feel small within their organizations?

Have an open mind, and listen. Don’t be afraid to take a seat at the table, be confident and self-aware.

What is the best piece of career advice that you have discovered or received?

I learned the hard way by allowing others to define me and what I could be. My advice to others is that you should express yourself, but be self-aware.

Is there anything else you want to share with Check Point’s executive-level audience?

Be the best you are, never stop learning, and pay forward. A trusted network and a mentor/coach are essential throughout your career. Don’t be afraid to ask.