This month, we sat down with Featured CLIMBER Nicole Beasley to hear about her journey from Senior Consultant to Associate Manager. She shares her experience in the cybersecurity industry, her professional growth at A-LIGN, and what she loves about working with our team of CLIMBERS.
Where are you from? How did you get involved in cybersecurity and start your journey at A-LIGN?
I’m originally from Louisiana and I started my cybersecurity journey at a small regional firm called Carr, Riggs & Ingram as a financial statement auditor. I then worked at KPMG as a full-time IT auditor. When I passed my CPA exam, Kendra Kelly, Lead Campus Recruiter at A-LIGN, reached out to me about opportunities at A-LIGN. I enjoyed speaking with everyone at the firm and thought everyone was so friendly. I then decided to make the career change in 2019 and work in SOC compliance, and I’ve loved it since I joined!
What has changed during your tenure? How has A-LIGN helped you with your career development?
The amount of growth A-LIGN has experienced since I joined is incredible. When I joined in July of 2019, we had a small group of managers in the SOC practice, and now it’s almost doubled in size. I’ve also seen a large increase in brand awareness and the number of people that know about A-LIGN, who we are, and what we do. I’ve seen us become a real powerhouse in the industry.
Before receiving a promotion to Associate Manager, many different managers at A-LIGN helped me develop and position myself for a manager role, even though I was a Senior Consultant at the time. They spent a lot of time with me to try and help me understand the roles and responsibilities of that position. I’ve also found that you can learn a lot from utilizing our network of colleagues. People have many different perspectives – some people come from big four firms, while others join the team and build their professional careers here. I feel like that’s why we’re continually learning from each other. As a manager, I love when we get new staff because they can push me to think about things differently. We also have such an open and honest communication culture at A-LIGN, which makes it easy to learn and grow from peers. For example, I regularly talk to Andrew Houshian, Director of Service Delivery Operations. He’s not my manager, and he doesn’t need to help me, but he takes the time to mentor me and offer advice when I need it. That’s just the firm’s culture, and I think both individual and companywide growth can be attributed to that.
Tell me about your role at A-LIGN.
Being a leader and people manager is a key part of my job. I have a group that I manage and help with their development, understand how they’re doing and help them improve.
Secondly, my team’s tasks are focused on working on client audits from start to finish. We start from the planning stage and then work through the whole process, including reviewing the audits and talking to clients. We’re the first line of defense for the company because we’re the ones that are working with the client daily, conducting the audits, and ensuring the evidence in the reports is accurate and complete.
I think the other responsibility that many people don’t talk about is managing the relationships with clients. We work with multiple clients each week, and some require more attention than others. It’s about finding a happy medium of day-to-day tasks and managing the clients and their expectations so that we’re building better relationships with them. When we work with them, we want it to be a positive and ongoing partnership, not just a one-time job.
What attracted you to A-LIGN?
I had a couple of job offers on the table, and I was driving back from my interview when A-LIGN had offered me a job. Scott Price, Chief Executive Officer, called me on the phone to tell me how interested they were in having me as part of the team. I thought that it was so special that someone at that level took the time out of his day to call me and tell me that. I knew that A-LIGN wanted to help me grow my career. I also knew that the firm was friendly, fast-paced and that I’d be working with intelligent and forward-thinking people.
If you could describe A-LIGN in one word, what would it be?
Being an auditor requires a lot of discipline. Not just self-discipline, but also setting disciplined expectations for your team. We set the tone about what we do, why it’s important, and that we will deliver at a high pace, volume, and quality.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at A-LIGN?
It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.
Part of A-LIGN’s culture is being disciplined and holding yourself to high standards. It’s important to understand that making mistakes sometimes is how you learn and grow. That lesson removes a lot of the stress and burnout from feeling like you have to be perfect all the time.
What is the best part of working at A-LIGN?
The best part of working at A-LIGN is the people. Everyone is very intelligent, friendly and helpful, and they know how to respect and value each other. Even if we’re in the midst of the busy season and working long hours, everyone supports you and has your back. It’s ingrained in our company culture.
What do you do for fun outside of A-LIGN?
My dog and I love hiking.
What is your motto/personal mantra?
“Discipline, determination and dedication.”
I take that from when I played basketball and carry it with me through any circumstance in my life.
Why do you think cybersecurity and security audits are important?
Cybersecurity and security audits are important because they ensure honesty and transparency about what is going on in the digital world. It holds corporations accountable for what they are doing and who they are working with. It’s about making sure that companies that are growing in a high pace environment have proper policies and processes to protect the consumer.
What’s the best advice you could give someone trying to enter the industry?
Don’t be scared to ask questions because that is what helps you learn outside of traditional training. I also think it’s important to find somebody that can mentor and advise you to help you grow and navigate the challenges you face in your career journey.
Have questions about Nicole Beasley or joining the A-LIGN team? Contact us at [email protected] for more information!