Interview Conducted by Christy Smith
Sean’s one of our newest Ions, and he’s enthusiastic about the opportunity, having already realized one of Ionic’s core assumptions: “It’s about the data, stupid!” I had the opportunity to catch up with Sean about the importance of privacy, what value he believes Ionic brings to the market, and even his grammatical pet peeves.
Christy: Let’s start with the basics. Why did you make the decision to join Ionic? What are you most excited about?
Sean: The market opportunity at Ionic, the enormous impact this vision can have, is unlike anything I’ve seen. The pull to join this outstanding team was downright magnetic. Leveraging the amazing accomplishments to date, focused on a massive market, is an exciting challenge I am thrilled to accept. The business acceleration enabled by a digital environment where trust is the default–not some elusive dream even in our Zero Trust reality–is transformational on an epic scale. Driving that change, executing on that vision, being part of this fantastic group of people while we empower the world to take back control of their privacy – personal or corporate – is what has me willingly jumping out of bed earlier than I have in a very long time. I am NOT a morning person.
Christy: As our newest Ion, you joined as VP of Marketing just in time for RSA, the “Super Bowl” of cybersecurity. What’s it been like getting up to speed with such an intense event just around the corner? Where are you looking forward to investing your time over the next six months?
Sean: Ha! The perfect storm of running up this massive ramp inside the hurricane of prep around RSA is quite an experience. It reinforces why I’m here, though. There are super-smart, competent and passionate people driving fast in a huge vortex of activity. It’s quite a thing to be part of.
There are so many great things to dive into. I am most looking forward to driving simplicity and focus into everything we do that faces the market. We have so many fantastic opportunities to sharpen how we explain ourselves to the world, to let everyone know what we all know we’re building here. That is the thing I’ve always loved about technology–showing people a better way.
Christy: One of the things that most impresses me about your background is the diversity of roles that you’ve held across your career: technical sales, account executive, business development, product management, product marketing, and marketing. How do these roles contribute to the insight that you’re able to bring to the table?
Sean: All of those roles were about solving real problems and telling stories. I have always been driven to find great technology, understand how it can positively impact a large group of people, and find the right way to spread the good news. The huge benefit that diversity of roles give me is perspective–seeing the technology space from a wide variety of angles and facets. Actually, before all of that I was a developer. In marketing though, having a sales background grounds me directly to customer conversations and the process of turning the light on for customers one person at a time. If we as marketers lose sight of that, we’re done.
I love every piece of the technology space. That’s not to say that at times certain pieces aren’t just a slog–but the end result, when done well, is truly a beautiful thing. Think about all the different ways technology has fundamentally changed life for the better. Detach from the bad press about technology being used for evil, or pushing physical disconnection, or or or–really think about the wonders of what has happened in our lifetime already. It is something to truly marvel at, and it is what keeps me so interested in all these different angles.
Christy: Looking through all these different lenses, where do you see the value of Ionic?
Sean: It really kinda hit me square between the eyes from all directions. Here is how it came together for me – I have a recent background in the content/digital assets space that made one thing painfully obvious to me: “It’s about the data, stupid!” Before that I was working in the app dev space on some technology that is really flipping that entire world upside down by making it powerfully simple to create amazing apps. One of the biggest ways they make that happen is by empowering composite apps – making it easy to leverage the brilliance of others so as a developer you don’t have to start from scratch every time. And I also, like everyone else, pay attention to reporting on breach after breach after breach, wondering how many bad actors now have access to some of my personal information because the companies I trusted with it broke that trust by not properly managing it.
– The problem of privacy is getting palpably worse by the minute
– It’s all about the data
– Someone has figured out how to solve the global data trust and protection problem at machine (think Netflix, Google, IoT) scale
– Said company has boiled that solution down to an SDK and APIs
– The app dev world has long leveraged the brilliance of others to solve problems they don’t have time to get right
– The scope and scale of both data and app dev is expanding faster than the universe
– Uhm, yeah – sign me up. This is gonna be huge. Let’s go change the world.
Christy: My philosophy and English background makes me delight in the conversations we’ve had so far about grammar and precision in language. What are some of your pet peeves?
Sean: Oh, what a dangerous question! Thankfully, I grew up being constantly corrected by the daughter of an English teacher. You can imagine how much fun I am at a party. I have a list of pet peeves a mile long (just ask my long-suffering saint of a wife, Andrea) that tend to push me into a corner sucking my thumb after spending any time reading posts on social media. I do my best to keep them to myself, and I fail constantly.
Oh, and it’s on-premises, people. A premise is many things, mostly having to do with arguments, statements or assertions. The one thing it most assuredly isn’t? A physical location. 🙂
Christy: I learned very swiftly that you have a tremendous allegiance to your alma mater. How do you think the Auburn Tigers are shaping up this year?
Sean: Ha! That was a funny conversation. Now, in my defense, I graduated from Auburn (War Damn Eagle). What you witnessed there was me finding out that a new colleague was a big Alabama fan. I think I can probably get almost everyone reading this to back me up – my reactions were completely justified. 😉 As for how we’re looking this year, it’s too soon to tell. I’ll leave the clucking to everyone else and just enjoy the season. Well, until we start losing, and I walk around the room ranting.
Christy: Besides football, I understand you’re an avid volleyball player. When did you pick up the game? What do you enjoy most about it?
Sean: Anyone that has ever seen me play will tell you that they’re not sure I’ve actually picked it up. I love most everything about the sport. It is not only a ton of fun to play, but the people that play it are some of the best humans I’ve run across. There is a shared passion for the game–and the lifestyle. Laid back, welcoming, fun and funny. I have a few buddies I’ve worked with for many years to organize tournaments throughout the year. It is such a blast. It keeps me connected to the ocean of friends I’ve made through the sport over time and gives me an excuse to run around the court and take the stresses of life out on a ball.