Employees at A-LIGN take many different paths throughout their journey – that’s why we sat down with Katie Vokus, one of A-LIGN’s Sr. Consultants for SOC, to talk about her journey in cybersecurity, career growth and the launch of a new training program.
How did your career begin in cybersecurity?
I attended Florida State University (FSU) where I majored in accounting. During my time at FSU, I held a part-time job working in the accounting field and realized it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I was interested in the auditing portion but not necessarily financial audit. This realization led me in my job search to more IT-related positions. With A-LIGN’s CEO, Scott Price, being a very active FSU alumni, A-LIGN was first on my list for great places to work!
What is your role at A-LIGN?
I started with A-LIGN as a staff consultant fresh out of college and after about two years with the company, was promoted into the senior consultant role, which I have now been in for one year. I am very involved in our audits, work closely with clients, and assist with running A-LIGN’s new hire program. In regards to the new hire program, I will be training all of the staff consultants and interns coming in this summer through our A-LIGN University Program. By the end of the summer, I will be responsible for bringing on board approximately 50 college hires.
How would you describe A-LIGN in one word?
Opportunity. A-LIGN offers a great deal of opportunity to their employees in terms of professional and personal growth. If you’re willing to take on extra responsibility and commit to your role, you will go far within the company.
What is the best part about working for A-LIGN?
There are so many reasons why I enjoy working for A-LIGN but I think ‘flexibility’ sticks out to me most. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to work remotely if needed and truly be responsible for our own job function. I’ve never been micromanaged and have always had the freedom to control how I work best. A-LIGN’s culture is very different from other auditing firms where all employees must track their time.
Why are cybersecurity audits important and how does that play into your role?
The world is becoming more and more IT-based and therefore, laws and regulations must follow the trend to act accordingly. Cybersecurity audits and assessments are really important for keeping up with evolving IT practices and proving that you’re able to keep assets secure. In my role, I am exposed to clients on a daily basis so I witness what is going on in the industry and learn how to better implement those practices into our audits.
What do you enjoy most about the client facing portion of your position?
I most enjoy working with repeat clients. For one of my clients, I started as a ‘shadow’, then worked with them the following year as an experienced staff consultant with trainees shadowing me. This year, I worked with the client for a third time but as a senior consultant on the project. I enjoy building connections with repeat clients and watching them succeed and grow.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
The new hire program is what I most enjoy and am the proudest of in my career. I’m responsible for building the content, process improvement, and ensuring the program creates value and shapes the future for new college hires. It’s a big responsibility and I find the work very rewarding.
Which A-LIGN value do you most identify with and why?
I most identity with ‘do the right thing, always’. Regardless if I’m working with external clients, internal employees, partners – whomever it may be, always doing the right thing is important and will serve everyone well. All of my clients and team members know that if they need help, I will drop what I’m doing to make sure they get the help they need and are successful in their role. To me, helping others plays into always doing the right thing.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at A-LIGN?
I’ve learned to be confident. Being a young woman in cybersecurity can be challenging at times. I know the material and I’m good at my job, so I have learned to take ownership of the client meetings and audits. Confidence is also a trait I’ve worked to build in each one of my new hires as I value the importance and know it can help take their careers further.
Can you tell me about the culture within A-LIGN’s SOC practice?
Within the SOC practice, we act as a family. If a team member is struggling, we work to help and be sure they are successful. This culture starts from the top down; our executive management and our practice lead listen to their employees and are open to implementing new procedures. For example, recently a new reporting structure was implemented to address concerns that auditors had of our previous reporting structure. Many of the auditors found the old way made their day-to-day jobs more difficult so we voiced our concerns and management found a better solution. We all feel heard, valued and work as a team.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
I really enjoy Pure Barre, it’s how I destress and reenergize every day. I have been doing Pure Barre for three years now and started around the same time I started my career with A-LIGN.
What is one thing that everyone would be surprised to learn about you?
Growing up, I was always very shy. No one would ever guess that I now run client meetings, lead trainings, and communicate openly with my colleagues. A-LIGN has been instrumental in helping me grow not only professionally, but also on a personal level in so many ways!