Featured CLIMBER: Cassie Young

Employees at A-LIGN take many different paths throughout their journey – that’s why we sat down with Cassie Young, A-LIGN’s SOC Operations Manager, to talk about her journey in cybersecurity, the culture the team has created within the SOC practice and much more!

Where are you from, and how did you begin your career in cybersecurity?

I’m from a small town called Bridgewater, Massachusetts, which is about 45 minutes south of Boston. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for my career, but I knew I hated the cold weather in Massachusetts, so I moved to Florida and attended the University of Tampa, where I studied Management Information Systems. When I graduated from UT, I started working at PwC in the Risk Assurance practice, where I got into IT general controls, IT auditing, and SOC 1 auditing. I attended a few networking events through ISACA, where I was introduced to A-LIGN and met different personnel from the company. I was really missing my family, so I decided to move back to Boston to be closer to them, and then a year later, I joined the A-LIGN team!

Tell me about your role as SOC Operations Manager at A-LIGN.

My main responsibility is training the new individuals who join our SOC practice. This includes our experienced auditors, senior auditors, and even managers, so they can get a perspective of the training that the auditors go through. I also work on marketing projects, where I review content that we can post from a SOC perspective, to make sure the correct language is being used. I assist with many operational projects and one-off assessments that we need to do. My favorite thing I do is help our auditors with any questions they have. I beg them all day long to set up time with me on any questions they have, and now that I am several months into this role, it’s finally started to gain some traction. I usually meet with at least one auditor a day to go through different methodology questions and provide one on one answers for their specific projects.

What is the best part about working at A-LIGN?

I love the flexibility and the transparency. When I first joined A-LIGN, I was an Associate Manager. I really did love that role, but I didn’t feel like it was 100% for me. So, I spoke with my coach and was honest about my experiences and what I liked and what I didn’t like, and we were able to transform my position into something that makes me so excited every day to wake up and get to do. I also love being able to work from home, so that the second my hours are done for the day, I can step away and be all in with my family and working out.

How would you describe A-LIGN in one word?

Collaborative.

Can you tell me about the culture within A-LIGN’s SOC practice?

Generally, I think the professional services industry can be tough because there is a little competition. But, here at A-LIGN, everyone is so welcoming—and I’m the kind of person that if I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t say it. Everyone is so willing to help and answer any questions you may have, and ultimately just wants everyone on our team to feel comfortable. It’s nice because it’s a free space to be able to ask any question you have, and even ask someone to re-explain something if you didn’t grasp it the first time. Even if it seems silly because you know we’ve gone over it before, we have to recognize how challenging audit can be and give ourselves some grace. We do work on our separate projects, but we help each other out by answering questions, sharing different emails we’ve sent, and different templates that we use, so the collaboration is great. Our leadership always asks for our opinions and suggestions, and they really do implement them where possible. We must be realistic and understand that they’re not going to be able to do everything, but they really listen and do what they can, which I couldn’t ask for more in a work environment.

What is a work-related accomplishment you’re proud of?

Each week I go into 7geese, our internal employee engagement and performance management platform, and look at all the recognitions that our employees give one another. It makes me so proud to see the people that I trained being recognized for their hard work. I’m impressed by the questions they ask, and what they’ve accomplished so far, and I think part of that is from the training they receive which makes me feel good. I’m also really proud of the training program that myself and the Organizational and People Development (OPD) team have worked so hard on. We have a great partnership with our OPD team, which has solidified our training program because I’ve been able to provide the SOC knowledge, while they provide their knowledge of A-LIGN and the best way to conduct these trainings. I think the culture we’ve built is very valuable because we have the comfort to explore and ask questions so we’re continually learning.

Which of our values (Be All In, Commit to Quality, Do the Right Thing Always, Innovate Constantly) do you identify with most and why?

Do the right thing, always. There is no joy in being a manager if you can’t do the right thing. In my career, I have pushed myself to work harder and longer than I wanted to because I wanted to get into a management position so I could do the right thing for my direct reports. I wanted to say “This is the time we need to complete a project. We need four weeks,” or whatever that time frame might look like. When I was an auditor, I wanted someone to do that for me when I had been going through it. So, I love that A-LIGN empowers us to do the right thing always because everyone knows what the right thing is and everyone knows when you schedule a project with too few hours, you feel it and it isn’t right. Being able to give my full, honest opinion and knowing that I’m supported by the team to do whatever we think it will take to complete a project is empowering.

What is the best advice you could give someone trying to enter the industry?

Trust and believe in yourself. A lot of people feel like they have to prove themselves when they start a position at a new company. There are pressures that make them think that’s by working harder, more hours, or taking on more clients. But you have to trust yourself and understand that everyone is different and everyone’s threshold of what they can handle at work is different and that’s okay. I tell our new hires that once you receive your offer, you’ve already passed the test. The test was getting hired. You’re the expert of yourself, your body, your mind, so you have to be open and honest with your manager about what you can handle. I also think it’s important to be flexible and try out new things so you can see what’s right for you.

What is your motto/personal mantra?

Whatever you want to see in the world, you do in the world. I don’t really like to live through words, I like to live through actions. If I’m volunteering, getting involved, or putting in time as a leader, I hope that others will see that and will feel inspired to contribute as well. I’m a very hands-on leader.

What do you do for fun outside of work?

I spend a lot of time with my family, my boyfriend, and my dog. We are always together. I also really enjoy Pilates, so I do that at least twice a week. I find it very centering and energizing first thing in the morning. Some people think I’m crazy for getting up a 6:00 AM for Pilates, but I really love it!

 

Looking for a career unlike any other?  Visit the A-LIGN website to learn more about our available career opportunities or email [email protected] for more information.