Employees at A-LIGN take many different paths throughout their journey – that’s why we sat down with Arti Lalwani, ISO Practice Lead at A-LIGN, to talk about her journey in security and compliance, the path from Senior Consultant to Practice Lead and why diversity and inclusion matter to her.
How long have you been at A-LIGN? How did your journey begin?
I started in financial services, earning my bachelor’s degree at Georgia State University, but realized that wasn’t the right fit for me and jumped into hardware asset management. When I started in the industry, I remember thinking, “I only know how to turn on a computer?!”
Now I’ve been with A-LIGN for over a year and much has changed in that time. It’s been awesome to watch our practice lead program and the Women’s Network grow and evolve.
Can you tell me about your role as A-LIGN’s ISO Practice Lead?
As our ISO Practice Lead, I determine the strategic direction of our ISO practice. My role is to keep us in line with our ANAB accreditation and search for ways we can grow as a practice, as well as working each day to move everyone closer to succeeding in their goals. We were recently selected as one of the first accredited ISO 27701 certification bodies, expanding into privacy standards as a team and that was exciting to be part of.
If you could describe A-LIGN in one word, what would it be?
A-LIGN isn’t afraid to change in response to how the security and compliance landscape is evolving or in response to ever-changing cybersecurity risks. That adaptability makes us progressive.
You were recently included in A-LIGN’s Women’s History Month campaign. In your opinion, how does A-LIGN empower and elevate our female CLIMBERS?
That’s a great question. I think A-LIGN is a great company to work for, and we empower female CLIMBERS by giving them the same opportunities to showcase their skills and listen to their opinions. Everything I said for the campaign is absolutely true; I believe I have much respect here at A-LIGN and that my voice is heard. Providing those opportunities really empowers women.
What do you think is the biggest challenge women face in our industry?
I think one of the biggest challenges women face is the lack of gender diversity. It’s very apparent wherever you go that men make up most of our industry, and you see that lack of gender diversity when you enter a new company, attend conferences or are part of this space. Even so, there are ways I’ve learned women can work together to overcome these challenges:
- Don’t Be Intimidated: You can learn everything you need to be successful – don’t be afraid to enter this space, to fight for what you want or what you believe is right.
- Be Confident: Speak confidently and act decisively. Doing this creates a demand for respect from others, and once you have that respect you will always have it.
- Find a Mentor: Having someone, whether male or female, to share ideas with, answer your questions and understands what you’re going through is most helpful.
Why does diversity and inclusion matter to you?
These initiatives are phenomenal because it comes down to finding talented people to join your team. That’s what we’re working towards as a company. Meanwhile, there are companies that have created boundaries and other problems simply because they don’t know how to act around someone different from them. I think when you build and nurture an inclusive and welcoming culture, you create a pattern on how the company should act towards everyone.
What does A-LIGN do differently than other security and compliance companies?
The culture – that’s what really attracted me to A-LIGN. It’s refreshing to see a company that’s truly concerned about its people. I think our leadership team invests in our CLIMBERS, through resources like the Leadership Academy for executives and LDP (Learning and Development Program) for managers. There are so many ways to expand and further your skills to pursue your own growth.
We are all continuously learning, growing and bettering ourselves.
What surprised you most about working at A-LIGN?
I was shocked at how everybody could “be all in” all the time, and that people genuinely cared about how our company is moving forward and succeeding. Everyone works great together as a team. I think it’s excellent we can say one of our core values is truly respected in our culture.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I love to read, especially fiction and tend to go through books very quickly. When I start a new book, I feel like I have to finish it within a few hours. It’s always nice to finish a book and think about how your life could be different, with or without drama or in a different reality. I’ve even traveled to conventions so I can meet the author and have them sign a copy of their book, usually resulting in two copies for me. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of them.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career?
The importance of teamwork and trust. The strength of any team is in each individual, making up a bigger team, and we must have trust to move forward as a group. Coming from a different company and being an individual contributor, I never realized how great it is to have a team that shares and expresses the same ideas and motivation as me – it really pushes you to go further.
What’s been the most rewarding part about working at A-LIGN?
Coming from a different company, the best part about being here is the respect I receive within the company as well as watching the ISO team come together and succeed in pursuing their goals. We’re always pushing each other to keep climbing. It’s rewarding to see the team grow and accomplish things themselves and knowing that they succeeded is reward enough for me.