Meet Sagit Manor, CEO of Nyotron, a cyber security company that develops the industry’s first Endpoint Prevention and Response solution, she is one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology. The Women World Awards granted her a gold medal for Woman of the Year in Security, and silver for Female Executive of the Year. The Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Tech is an award given by the National Diversity Committee.
Who is Sagit Manor? define yourself
If I had to define myself I would say my essence is energetic positivity. I bring light, drive, and color to every interaction that I have, both professional and personal ,but don’t be fooled by my smile and sunny attitude, I can deal with the biggest sharks and execs, with finesse, grace but also with a healthy dollop of Chutzpah.
You were born and raised in Israel, how were you as a kid?
I was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, but grew up in a beautiful farming village in the North. I always volunteered and during high school, I was a scouts’ counselor and also tutored a sweet Ethiopian girl in math. Our home was always a “social central” , friends coming and going, lots of fun, laughter, and games. From the time I can remember myself I was always dancing mainly Hip hop and folk dancing. At the age of 18, I joined the army and served my country for four years as a lieutenant, in charge of assessing and interviewing candidates for the IDF's elite units. When everyone, after the army, went backpacking in Asia or South America, I had an amazing Museum trip to London and Paris with my friend.
Then I went straight back to school. I received my BA in Accounting at the College of Mgmt. Academic Studies in Rishon LeZion, Israel. My mom is the second generation of Holocaust survivors and a nurse by profession. My dad is a doctor and both of them worked at the same hospital for more than 45 years. They divorced and remarried and I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters that I am very proud of it!
"Success is the road taken, not the outcome, success for me is the belief that you can, that you’re giving your best, that you’re happy with the choices you make"
You have a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and Business/Management, CPA at The College of Management Academic Studies in Israel, why did you decide to study that?
I was always attracted to numbers, I was great at math as a kid and wanted to build my skills and talents into a career. I wanted to take my math skills to the next level of a career, making it a profession , so Accounting seemed like the perfect way to bring it into a practical application that the world needs.
You worked as Corporate Controller at Lipman Electronic Engineering LTD and had different roles in Verifone as VP Finance & Assistant Corporate Controller, VP Finance, R&D and Operations, VP & CFO, Verifone Solutions, later you started in Nyotron as Chief Financial Officer and after 2 years you got promoted as CEO, how did you jump from CFO to CEO?
I was serving as CFO at my current company, Nyotron, and 5 weeks after I joined, I was asked by the Chairman of the Board to step into the CEO role. My initial reaction in my head was no, I’m not ready, never done it before...but then I remember a great speaker I had heard a few years before who said that women, as opposed to men, will not apply for a job unless they feel they are 100% qualified. I decided that it was time to leap of faith, and I immediately said yes! I had never run a company before, not to mention a growth-stage startup or in the cybersecurity space and I knew I had (and still have) a lot to learn, however, I decided to take the chance and believed in myself that I can do it and so far, two years later, I am so happy with my choice.
For the people who don´t know what is Nyotron, can you tell in simple words what services does the company offer and for what sectors does it work and what does it make unique on the market?
Our mission is to win the war on malware. We leverage the good behavior of the operating system to protect enterprises from cyber threats. This is a new security paradigm that prevents damage regardless of the type of attack or how it penetrated your environment. Nyotron PARANOID acts as your last line of defense, thwarting attacks before damage is done. Our unique approach provides real-time visibility into the attack while automatically stops the attack before damage is done. Ensuring good, instead of chasing bad. We focus on highly-regulated industries such as Healthcare, Law-enforcement, local and state government and aviation.
You have a lot of experience in finance, you are relatively new to the security industry, how has it been your experience in this field?
It’s been an amazing experience and a huge lesson for life. I didn’t realize how complicated and massive the cybersecurity field is, how many categories and subcategories it has and how many players exist in each category. When you play in such a saturated market, with so many players that are all telling you how unique and different their solution is, you have to be smart with your messaging. You have to plan your go-to-market approach carefully, the verticals you focus on and the team that can help you get there. The rest is flawless execution - which we’re working on - get back to me in a year or 2 :)
You formed a strategic partnership agreement with Ingram Micro to help Nyotron accelerate its global presence – particularly in the United States – and build its global channel ecosystem. The partnership also resulted in a $10 million investment from Ingram Micro, you are considered one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology, also The Women World Awards granted you a gold medal for Woman of the Year in Security, and silver for Female Executive of the Year. What´s the recipe for your success?
Some will consider success as achieving wealth, respect or fame which is probably true, however, for me, success is the road taken, not the outcome, success for me is the belief that you can, that you’re giving your best, that you’re happy with the choices you make. If I measure myself along with these guidelines, then yes, I can consider myself very successful and the outcomes are bonuses! If I try to find a recipe for it all, I was and am still very fortunate to have many great mentors and colleagues I have worked with over the years. I learned from them how to treat my team, what makes a difference, how to stay focused, listen to my gut, stay authentic and more.
"I treat my employees as I treat my family because to me we are all part of a big, happy family with a great mission, to secure the world and win the war on malware"
What is the reality of your day-to-day?
Probably similar to all busy CEOs...meetings, phone calls, tons of travel, early morning calls with Israel, cleaning out my inbox on flights, dropping my daughter off at school, picking her up from gymnastics, watching my sons’ basketball and soccer games. I do take the time to exercise. I love running in nature and I always carve out the time to do it. And I love reading, especially right before I fall asleep.
Do you have any particular a philosophy that guides your career decisions?
A few years ago, while meeting my best friend for a drink, I was debating about a work issue and he gave me the best piece of advice ever - as his dad taught him - ‘you already have the no in your hand…so try for the yes!’. Realizing that if you won’t try, you will never know what you have missed! This was a HUGE beacon for me when deciding to take on the CEO role at Nyotron.
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I love the feeling of accomplishment. Building a startup is like raising your child. You see the development and growth daily. The more you invest, the better outcome you’ll get. I treat my employees as I treat my family because to me we are all part of a big, happy family with a great mission - to secure the world and win the war on malware. The most difficult part is that it is an emotional roller coaster. Every decision you make has significant consequences for the company's trajectory and for the people you work with. So you are constantly thinking...my brain doesn’t stop for a minute, and that can be exhausting. Even when I sleep - these thoughts and deliberations are part of my dreams!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
I believe that focus is the name of the game in every aspect of my life. I teach my kids and my employees to focus on their passion - find out what they love and are interested in and help them cultivate these passions into skills. My son loved math and soccer. I told him to focus just on that - the rest will fall into place. I wanted him to be happy and not suffer through school. Today he’s an A+ student.
At Nyotron I brought my mission of focus when I started as CEO. We translated this into our go-to-market strategy and approach, into our messaging, into the markets and verticals that we were aiming at, into which sales channels to use, as well as focusing on delivering what we promised and what our customers need. During this time many other offers and ideas came along but we didn’t let “shiny objects” distract us from our focused targets. And so far, this focus is working! We will finish this year with 500% revenue growth and 200% customer growth.
"Raising kids that see their parents happy and successful is a great role model and key for pushing them for giving their best to every project they’ll face"
As CEO what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Choose and focus on the top three important things and stick to them. Reevaluate every month to make sure they are still the top three most important things and keep plugging on. And you MUST get your hands dirty. When you’re not hands-on - things don’t move fast enough. You have to build a strong team that can execute, but you still must be involved in every aspect and keep on top of the progress. It’s a delicate balance between showing your team that you trust them and making sure they are on track with goals and objectives. It’s about prioritizing.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Between running a successful company and being a mother to 3, I don’t have much time to spare. However, I believe that by paying attention to my well-being, I am a MUCH better CEO and parent. When I’m in a good headspace, relaxed, nourished , I feel that I am much more present and patient with my kids and my employees. I LOVE running in nature. That’s my downtime and where my best ideas come. I also enjoy exploring new places and every month we take a long weekend off and travel. I climb mountains or go to the beach or walk to new cities. Enrich & challenge yourself with more, read books, watch movies, dance! Lastly, I LOVE spending time with my kids. We play games, ride bikes together or just talk.
I know you love fashion and there is a stereotype in the technology sector that says that women in Tech don´t care about their appearance and fashion is superficial, even it is one of the reasons why some young girls do not study STEM careers, they think that they lose their femininity, you are the opposite you are a brilliant woman in a man-dominated industry and you have a sense of style, what would you say those girls that have this wrong idea?
I am all about individual expression. I dress in bright colors and clothes that “stand out” in the drab Silicon Valley landscape. There might be people that frown at that and think that we need to dress more like men, in dark colors, suits and conservative clothes to be taken more seriously. I believe that authenticity is everything! - Be yourself. Don’t think you have to “act like a man” or emulate a certain archetype of an Executive. If you are secure in your skin and confident, that comes through and commands the respect you deserve. A quote that I love to use : ‘Don’t be offended. It’s a choice you don’t make’. It is so easy to get offended and hold on to a miserable feeling, however, you can make the choice not to let it get to you, to protect yourself from other people’s “stuff.” Keep believing in what you are doing, who you are and be genuine and true to yourself.
"I believe that focus is the name of the game in every aspect of my life. I teach my kids and my employees to focus on their passion , find out what they love and are interested in and help them cultivate these passions into skills"
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, blossoming family life, and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves, if they believe they can have it all, you are married with 3 kids so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
I believe that we can “have it all.” Nobody asks a man if they can be a good father and a good CEO. Why should it be mutually exclusive? One of the most important things I try to stick to in both work and home life to achieve the right balance is to be present - when you’re at work, be there 150%, when you’re at home, focus on your kids. Put away your phone or laptop. Let them feel they are being heard, listen to their stories, ask questions, make them feel important. And at work, if my kids call me, I make myself available unless I’m speaking in front of a crowd of hundreds. And most important I think for women is to let go of the guilt! It’s ok to do both! I love and enjoy my job, even if it means that sometimes I spend less time with my kids. Raising kids that see their parents happy and successful is a great role model and key for pushing them for giving their best to every project they’ll face.
What are your plans for the future?
To bring Nyotron to its full glory! We have the best technology in the endpoint security space and the best team to deliver it to the world!
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experienced the glass ceiling? if yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
It might surprise you, but I don’t believe I experienced that glass ceiling that others might have felt. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard to get to where I am today. Endless days and nights in the office completing end-of-year reports, preparing for an IPO, finalizing an acquisition, implementing IT systems, traveling and more. I don’t believe that there are shortcuts. Hard work, dedication, and loyalty will take you far. And that’s exactly what I did. I also made sure I had and still have great mentors around me to help me navigate and learn from. It’s not that I haven’t encountered jerks - both male and female - but I haven’t let that get to me or slow me down.
What tips, can you give to young girls, who want to become a CEO like you?
Believe in yourself! Be bold! Take chances! Be authentic! Invest time in yourself. Have mentors to help you navigate.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are (personally), and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Sagit and what´s not?
I consider myself very accessible, what you see is what you get. The man in my life like to say that I carry myself well. Life taught me to listen more to the people I'm speaking with and do less talking. I’m very present wherever I am and the fact that I’m truly interested in what they have to say or in their work builds trust with the people I’m interacting with. I’m proud of my kids and the mom I am to them. I try hard to always look at the glass half full, to challenge myself and learn from my mistakes. We’re a very tight-knit family. I have a strong connection with my parents and my brothers and sisters. I have a small group of girlfriends that are the best therapists you could ever wish for. That’s me - I’m best reflected by the people who surround me. I feel very blessed.
"Be yourself. Don’t think you have to “act like a man” or emulate a certain archetype of an Executive. If you are secure in your own skin and confident, that comes through and commands the respect you deserve"
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
That's my grandma Mala Zisman Harpaz (and my amazing Grandpa David beside her). A little glimpse of the greatest woman of all. My grandma survived the horrible holocaust, where she lost most of her family, lived in unbearable conditions, with a daily peel of potato as her main meal. She arrived in Israel at the end of the war when she’s 17, weighing 80 pounds. She met my grandpa in Israel and was determined to live and enjoy life. They brought three kids into the world, my mom is their oldest child. When my grandma was asked how she is, she used to answer, "Me?” In a Polish accent, “I'm great!" in a smiling, sweet voice. She was the happiest strongest woman I've ever known...despite the Holocaust she survived and everything she and her family went through. And she was like my second mom. She taught me Yiddish and I taught her Hebrew. She always looked fresh with a great fashion sense. She had the best schnitzels, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw in the world! She always used to tell me, with a big smile and loving eyes - “you’re smart and you’ll get far!” Only on the Holocaust Day, after lighting a memorial candle for her family that perished in the Holocaust, she wanted to be just by herself, she let the memories come back and she just cried and cried and cried.
Something else do you want to add or Share with us?
Thank you for your interest in me and my story. I believe it is very important to promote women in executive positions. Hopefully, I was able to convince even one soul that we can do it all!
Name: Sagit Manor