How Security Compass locked in top talent for its cybersecurity revolution


  • 2004



When it comes to cybersecurity, organizations have conventionally taken an approach that is at best laissez-faire (lines of code added during the final stages of programming) and at worst reactive (downloading one-size-fits-all software after an unexpected breach). But as Toronto-based Security Compass knows, the safest strategy is the most proactive one.

The firm is a leading provider of solutions that allow organizations to build secure  applications by design and integrate protection into systems at the earliest stages of programming. By creating a safe and solid foundation, Security Compass ensures its clients have an optimal chance of avoiding threats and maximizes their potential success in an online environment.

A vital element of this approach involves keeping tabs on the latest tricks deployed by savvy hackers — which means Security Compass must attract (and hang on to) the sharpest developers in the field. But achieving this goal in a highly competitive job market requires its own proactive strategy.

The Challenge: “Engaging and retaining top talent is a key part of what we’re worried about as a high-growth organization,” says Michelle Brooks, Chief People and Culture Officer at Security Compass. The pandemic and the cultural changes that have followed have caused seismic shifts when it comes to hiring talent, she notes, moving from a candidate-driven market to waves of layoffs related to economic instability. For Brooks, it was crucial to develop a strategy based on the knowledge gleaned from these shifts — so Security Compass turned to MaRS Momentum to point them in the right direction.

The Strategy“I have external data at my fingertips that I can use to provide insights about employee engagement and retention success rates,” says Daneal Charney, a MaRS Momentum executive-in-residence who worked closely with the team. Charney tailored her feedback to ensure Security Compass was shaping its approach based on insights from companies on comparable growth trajectories. As Brooks notes, revenue per employee became a key benchmark. “We discovered that was something we needed to focus on, and it became part of our strategic planning discussions and affected the way we looked at our business by department.”

Two other MaRS Momentum service offerings played important roles: The Leaders at Scale program helps ensure frontline managers are the best at what they do — a major factor in retaining top talent. And the Impact program, a salary benchmarking tool, has been integral in keeping the company on top of market trends related to employee compensation.

The Impact: The Security Compass team has been able to synthesize the insights they’ve received from MaRS Momentum to create a strategic plan that allows them to set realistic yet ambitious goals. “I’m excited that they’re focused on profitable growth and that they’re not making decisions too quickly,” says Charney.

Brooks is especially appreciative of the connections she has forged with her peers in the Momentum cohort, who have become a combination of a sounding board and an advice committee. In fact, she and the other CHROs have created a mentorship program and peer network. “We’ve seen such tremendous value from these relationships, and we wish we’d had that as we were coming up,” Brooks says. “So we’re banding together to do that for the people who are next in line for our roles.”

Having access to both customized data and to a group of experts has bolstered Brooks’s confidence in identifying and facing challenges. And, as she notes, her experience with Momentum has had a significant impact on the company’s overall strategy.

“Because I continue to come to my executive team with MaRS-driven data, or with information from the peer network, it’s inspired my peers at the executive table to do more of this kind of work — they’re witnessing the clear benefits of this approach.”

MaRS Momentum program works with executives of high-growth Canadian companies to accelerate the path to hitting $100 million in revenue. Find out more here.






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