This month, we sat down with Featured CLIMBER Elizabeth Hugenberg to hear about her journey at A-LIGN. She shares what has changed the most since she joined the firm in 2016, the professional growth she’s experienced, and what advice she would give to those entering the industry.
Where are you from? How did you get involved in cybersecurity?
I am from Northern Kentucky and attended the University of the Cumberlands to get my undergraduate degrees in Accounting, MIS, and Business Administration. I then received my master’s degree in Accounting from Northern Kentucky University. While I was at NKU, I realized I wanted to focus more on IT, but at the time I didn’t know how that was going to look. My previous company reached out to me about SOC auditing. Not knowing exactly what that was, I went and did my research and realized it was a good combination of my MIS and Accounting degrees. From there, I started with my previous company, which then brought me to A-LIGN after Scott Price read a blog I had written.
How long have you been at A-LIGN? What has changed during your tenure?
I joined A-LIGN in November 2016 as a Senior Consultant and have since grown into a Managing Consultant role. When I started, there were probably about 120 employees. We’ve grown tremendously. Since then, we’ve improved many of our processes as well. One of the most significant changes is the SOC team’s transition into smaller pods. We are currently undergoing this change, but I am excited to see how this will positively impact the employees within the practice. I believe it will increase transparency and allow managers to give more effective feedback to their teams.
What attracted you to A-LIGN?
The benefits and the opportunity to advance my career with a fast-growing company are what attracted me to A-LIGN. I especially enjoy the benefit of working from home and the flexibility. For example, if you have a doctor’s appointment, you go to your doctor’s appointment without any questions asked. Of course, we make sure everyone gets their work done, and no one falls behind, but the flexibility to take the time when you need it is important. When interviewing with A-LIGN, I could see how fast the company was growing and visualize its plans for the future. I am a very goal-oriented person and envisioning the opportunity to advance my career and knowledge base sealed the deal.
If you could describe A-LIGN in one word, what would it be?
We are always looking for ways to improve processes, procedures, work/life balance, employee retention, training, and more. The executive team wants what is best for everyone at A-LIGN, and the management team is continuously looking for ways to change things for the better.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at A-LIGN?
When I joined A-LIGN, I felt that my time management skills were excellent and where they should be. When I transitioned to the manager role, I realized it may be an area for improvement. As a manager, there are a lot of moving pieces that can pull me in several different directions if I allow them to. An essential lesson that I learned is there’s always room for improvement, even if I think I’m doing something well. It’s important to be self-aware and innovative to understand what is working, what is not, and what can be done to improve.
What’s the most rewarding part about working for A-LIGN?
Helping our clients reach their compliance goals is the most rewarding part of working at A-LIGN, especially if it is their first audit. Knowing that the client is satisfied and that we met their deadlines leaves me feeling accomplished.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
Whether on my parent’s farm, out on the lake, or riding trails in mine and my husband’s side-by-side, I enjoy being outdoors with family and friends. We are very close to our families, and we see them often throughout the week.
I am a big Kentucky basketball fan. Even though they are not playing the greatest this year, my husband and I watch every game. We typically go to five or so games a year. This year looks a little different because of COVID, so we’ve been watching all the games from home or a family member‘s house.
Why do you think cybersecurity is important?
I think cybersecurity is important because companies are becoming more vulnerable as technology continues to evolve. It is crucial to keep data secure and protect the integrity of the data from malicious intrusions.
What is your motto/personal mantra?
I commit to A-LIGN’s core value of Do the Right Thing, Always.
Sometimes it may seem appealing to take what is perceived to be the easy route, but that’s not always the right way to do it. If I’m not aware of how a specific procedure is completed, I always ask my manager about the correct way to do it the first time. This makes it easier to do it correctly and the right way moving forward.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
In 2012, my family and I were hit by a tornado, which caused significant damage to our home, and the experience changed my perspective about a lot of things. Being out of our family home taught me not to take things for granted and always be thankful for what I have.
What’s the best advice you could give someone trying to enter the industry?
It’s essential to be motivated and willing to learn. It is impossible to know everything, and there is always room for improvement. In this industry, you learn something new every day; you’ll run across a client environment that’s set up differently than what you’re used to, or you’ll have a client or auditor ask you a question that you’ve never been asked before. The more motivated you can be, the more you can push yourself to reach your goals.
Have questions about Elizabeth Hugenberg or joining the A-LIGN team? Contact us at [email protected] for more information!