Success, equality, spirit and candor are words that imbue the resilient character of Lara Meadows and her career that is as impressive as it is long. Make no mistake, she is at the top of her game and also making strides to pay it forward to those underrepresented inside the pillars of the all too often monoculture that is the cybersecurity industry.
Today, Meadows is a vice president of solution architect at ThreatConnect. For the past two decades she has been a rising star within the world of network security. Her resume includes helping a cadre of A-list Fortune 500 companies engineer their security operations. She is also recognized by her peers as a power player, part of SC Media’s 2023 Women in IT Security honoree program.
What is the ephemeral “it” that she is paying forward?
“Ten years ago there was no one to tap me on the shoulder and show me the path forward to succeed in a male-dominated industry,” she said. “In 2023, that’s changing. I see a new calculous where women and diverse communities are networking, talking and lifting each other up and helping one another with their careers and so much more.”
When asked, peers cite Meadows as always at the ready with pearls of wisdom for women — or really anyone — to succeed in today’s workforce.
- Belly up to the table and commit yourself to the task at hand.
- Never attend a meeting where you don’t contribute at least once.
- Champion a pet project at work.
- Always show up prepared.
- Transcend personal insecurities by moving out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself.
- Never shirk an opportunity to network.
“There was an age when getting a seat at the table was sufficient,” Meadows said. “Those days have long past.” She told SC Media she watched the old boys’ network from the conference room table front row as talented male peers rose from the ranks by asserting themselves, being decisively visible and outspoken.
“When I was more junior, I can't tell you how often I'd sit in the back of a meeting and wouldn't speak up unless spoken to. I didn't realize back then how important it is to speak up,” she said.
Early on in her career stepping up was hard. “There was that nagging imposter syndrome to contend with,” she recalls. Overcoming that self-doubt freed Meadows to unlock the raw talent that defines her success and career accomplishments.
Her pay-it-forward efforts include active participation in cybersecurity communities such as Women in CyberSecurity, Ladies of London Hacking Society, Women in Tech, Information Systems Security Association and sits on Virginia Tech’s Business of Information Technology advisory board.
“It's important to me that we do see more women in this industry,” she said. “I just don't want to be the only woman in the room anymore.”
That push goes beyond gender and includes throwing the industry doors open and welcoming diversity of all stripes. “I get to speak to diverse groups that are not just women. It’s important to inspire everyone to get into cybersecurity.”
All to often the business of cybersecurity is cloaked with a false mystique.
“It’s my mission to counter stereotypes and inspire people to get involved in this industry,” Meadows said. “This mercurial environment that we work in needs more talent. We don’t have the luxury to define that as one or two types of people.”