#UnlimitedPlayground: Irena’s Story
What does #UnlimitedPlayground at Ataccama really mean? It’s as simple as it sounds. We want everyone to feel like they have the best role based on their talents and interests. If those talents and interests change over the course of their time at Ataccama, we want them to be able to explore them and move into a role they’re passionate about. Our Information Security Officer has done just that. Read on to find out how she saw an opening for a new role and created it for herself, learning all she needed to know in the process.
Meet Irena — our Information Security Officer and a Bollywood dance enthusiast (she even treated us to a performance at one of our Allstaffs)
How did your journey with Ataccama start?
My journey with Ataccama started in 2008. My boyfriend and I had just come back from traveling in New Zealand and Asia. We had spent 2 ½ years out of the Czech Republic and ended up coming back right in the middle of the crisis. So, I was really struggling to find a job. I had a friend who worked at Ataccama back then as a consultant, and he said they might be looking for a team assistant. That was how it started.
There were only 27 people back then and Ataccama just had a small, dedicated area in the Adastra office. I remember seeing a pool table where some of the guys were playing, and thinking “wow, this is really cool. An office with a pool table. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to work here?” We’ve since moved to our own offices so we left the pool table behind, but now we have office skateboards and electric scooters.
You took some time off for traveling, right?
Yes. When I started, I told Michal, our CEO, that I wanted to stay for one year because I was saving up to travel around India. Maybe that’s not the best thing to say in an interview. 😃 But he was very open and laughed about it. He said he would obviously like me to stay longer, but if that’s what I could give, then fine with him. So, I landed the job anyway. I stayed for a bit longer than a year. I didn’t save up enough to go to India, but to some other Asian countries. I took a few months off, came back for another year then later left again to travel around India. Then I came back again until I went on maternity leave and again after that. I’ve worked in a variety of positions. I’ve been in back office, I’ve been a Sales Support Specialist, and I worked in marketing before my current role in information security. I celebrated my 11-year anniversary this week although there were a few breaks for traveling and maternity leave.
Tell us about your current role and how it came about.
I love the fact that I’ve become a professional in my field. A person you go to when you have a specific question and no one else can answer it.
I had been dealing with ISO Certifications from the documentation perspective. I helped with the administrative side of being certified as a company, so I knew the most about the certification process and the resources that were available for presales and consultants. One day I went to Veronika, our COO, and told her that we needed an Information Security Officer for Ataccama as the questions were coming more and more often, and I couldn’t answer them because we didn’t quite have all the things we needed. We needed someone who would drive those initiatives at Ataccama.
She mentioned that she was aware of the need and was trying to define exactly what the role would look like. I told her to give me half an hour and I’d write exactly what that person would do and who it should be because I had a really clear idea. I came up with a detailed job description for an Information Security Officer — who they would meet with, who they’d work with, what kind of tasks they’d do, and what kinds of things they’d understand and be in charge of. Veronika was pleasantly surprised and said that I’d put it together for myself quite well. 😂
How did you feel about being offered the role?
I kind of laughed and told her that I wasn’t technical enough. She told me that I’d been with Ataccama for a long time and I’d proven reliable. And that trust was more important to her than technical skills. I could learn those. She told me to think about it. So I did. And it didn’t require much. I was already excited about it because it was something that I could be really good at.
I was nervous though. I had terrible imposter syndrome. I still have it sometimes. But it’s worked out well. And I’ve realized that it’s a really exciting area and I love it. I feel like I’m actually contributing to the mission of Ataccama. I also love the fact that I’ve become a professional in my field. A person you go to when you have a specific question and no one else can answer it. This was the reward for me after so many years in supportive roles.
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
I was used to doing things myself, and suddenly I had a team of people to ask. Team Ataccama. There was this realization that I’m really part of Team Ataccama.
I had this feeling that I wanted to learn everything. But obviously, I met some limits of understanding when it came to technical stuff. I had moments when I really doubted my capabilities, but I had good people around me who told me not to worry and that I could always ask for help when I needed it, that we’re a team. I was used to doing things myself, and suddenly I had a team of people to ask. Team Ataccama. There was this realization that I’m really part of Team Ataccama.
You also organize our internal Focus sessions, how did that come about?
Since I’ve been part of Ataccama for so long and seen the company grow, I care for the people here, and I want to organize sessions that really benefit them.
This was something that started before I took on my current role. It was a time when I really wanted to become a person other people would turn to for advice. I was missing the feeling of being a pro at something. Psychology is my big interest. I love learning about people, the human mind, human feelings, emotions, and everything. I discussed it with Michal and he said he could imagine opening these topics occasionally in a discussion club. And that’s when I got the idea for Focus.
We focus on one topic at each meetup on subjects like communication, mental health, digital wellbeing, and so on. We’ve had a climber who went to K2 and several other interesting speakers, and we’ll continue to do so in the future too because this is something I want to keep doing. Since I’ve been part of Ataccama for so long and seen the company grow, I care for the people here, and I want to organize sessions that really benefit them.
How do you see your future with Ataccama?
I’m very happy where I am now. I’m also happy that I’m learning more of the technical side of things. I’ve attended a few conferences and learned a lot about ethical hacking, penetration testing, all those product security aspects. I’m slowly grasping more and more of the various parts of what security is all about. Basically, my plan is to get certified. I want to go for the CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), which is an accredited course certification for managers.
My position is in something called information security governance which means I don’t have to be very technical, but I understand the processes and do the compliance, certifications, and manage how it looks to the outside world. But at the same time, I’m interested in the internal processes and the little details, so I’m kind of going in the other direction to what is most common. Usually, you become skilled at IT and you have some certificates and understand how all the infrastructure elements are connected. Then you slowly work your way up to manager. I went the other way. I started learning the processes first and I’m becoming more technical as I go. I could even end up coding in a few years. 😊
Interested in the vast field of security and want to be part of Irena’s team? She’s hiring! Join Ataccama as an Information Security/Compliance Specialist.