Hi Edouard! Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Hi! Well, actually my background with computers goes back a long way... As far as I can remember, I've always been trying to understand their magic: “how does this application work exactly?” From there, you start hijacking the system a bit, and… you end up wanting to work in cybersecurity! My first machine was one of the first consumer computers, an Amstrad CPC.
After the baccalaureate, I joined Epitech, a computer engineering school in France. As I was passionate about the low-level side of things, I was already familiar with the C programming language. But beyond technical skills, what I liked most there was the mindset: you learn how to learn. I was part of the Systems & Security Lab where I could work on research projects in my free time. In particular, we were investigating the use of GPUs for cryptographic computations (exactly the type of operation performed for crypto mining today!), which was pretty novel at that time.
Right after my studies, I started working as a cybersecurity expert. Because I was the first employee of the company, I also had the chance to build a team from scratch. I was kind of an “orchestra man” in this company, and this gave me the extraordinary opportunity to construct a security-oriented R&D department. I learned how to give meaning to a product by giving a global direction and telling people what to do. And I liked it.
That's when you knew you wanted to focus your career on the product side?
Yes. So I went back to work for SkyRecon Systems (now Stormshield), where I had worked on endpoint protection during my studies. This time, I became the solution Product Manager. This was really a revelation for me, that I could have completely missed if it wasn’t for a few very good bits of advice from some acquaintances. I’m still amazed at how a career path can depend on so little. I was lucky and brave enough to take the product leap when I had the opportunity. And I haven't looked back since!
Then I started working at Rohde & Schwarz Cybersecurity on a WAF (Web Application Firewall) solution. This is where I started working on AppSec: we were protecting running apps from vulnerabilities like the OWASP Top10. For me, the best part of AppSec is that you can advise the client on its digital transformation. This could be super strategic because you bring your expertise on topics such as: “to what point is the application supposed to scale?” or “How to transform a traditional product into a cloud-native one?”. And of course, “How the shift left transformation can open cybersecurity to the developers?”
Did you ever imagine that the problem of secrets sprawl called for the creation of a whole new range of AppSec products?
In a sense, yes. In my missions, I had to conduct a lot of customer interviews, and I was always trying to get what I call a "360 vision". And one thing that was often mentioned by CISOs or CTOs was the fact that their threat analysts had uncovered leaked SSH keys. It was a real pain point. So yes, I felt like there was something to be done. But other than that, I had no idea of the market, the actors, or the real size of the problem in the industry.
How did you first hear about GitGuardian?
I was first contacted by a headhunter, and I usually never respond to this kind of solicitation. But this time, he really managed to pique my curiosity. Then, I have to say the timing was quite perfect.
The first interview I had was really great, I instantly got a feeling of the company culture, and it started to consolidate my interest. Not long after, I had the opportunity to meet Guardians at a cybersecurity event. Shortly after that, I came to realize that several people in my entourage were telling me good things about GitGuardian or knew someone there, even in the US!
Everything was converging.
What were your impressions during the interview process?
Right away I understood that there was ambition for the company, but more importantly, there was a desire to give it the means to achieve great things in a structured way. Talking with Jérémy and Eric (GitGuardian’s co-founders), we spontaneously had passionate and deep discussions about how to transform the industry. Some key points for me were: 1. US-focused, 2. Full DevSecOps, 3. Scale-up dynamism.
A French cybersecurity scale-up, created by passionate people to solve a no-bullshit problem, looking for a VP Product? For me, it was a no-brainer!
In my career, I worked for various small companies that got abducted by much larger conglomerates. This time, I wanted to see how far we could go propelled by VC funds!
How do you feel after your first weeks working here?
From a high-level perspective, the sense of detail prevailing at GitGuardian is quite impressive.
There is simply nothing left to the chance! Everybody is very focused on the little things and this tells you a lot about the company mindset.
Another thing I really appreciate is the asynchronous work culture. This exists by default, and everything is thought to ensure it works well. Another thing that can't be underestimated is the cross-services empathy. The collaboration flow is just great and while everyone is moving in the same direction you can find the time to help the others achieve their goals.
Also, I have to say I’m impressed by the diversity of backgrounds at GitGuardian! You'll meet with people coming from other industries or other roles, and this for me is a big sign of confidence. It means the company invests as much in mindsets as it does in hard skills, and that people’s know-how and passion do actually matter. Finding different levels of seniority is also a very good indicator of the structuring of the company.
What about life outside of work?
I like to say I’m a “fake” Parisian: I have a house in the countryside where I am part of the week, and I love this balance. Having a hybrid work organization is perfect for me. I was super lucky to be there during the first lockdown, first because I had bought it just a few weeks earlier, and then because I was coming back from a trip with the very last plane leaving!
When I’m not geeking, you can see me around on my mob, piloting a drone, or even cooking! The move inspired me to want to start, something that didn't appeal to me at all before!
Thank you very much for your time, Edouard.