Q&A with HackerOne’s VP of Customer Success Jeff McBride
“As cliche as it sounds, customer success is everyone’s job. Everyone’s,” said Jeff McBride when we asked him about his relatively new role as the the VP of Customer Success at HackerOne. Jeff has spent over a decade exploring customer management and success. Most recently, Jeff came to us from operational customer experience manager Medallia, where he spent four years specifically focusing on customer success and solution consulting. At HackerOne, Jeff stresses the importance of seeing all accounts through two lenses: the customer lens and the hacker lens. Without success viewed through both lenses, a program will never be successful.
We sat down with Jeff to get more acquainted with his style of leadership, what customer success means to him, and his view of hacker-powered program management. Take a look at our conversation:
Q: Tell us about yourself. What led you to security and HackerOne?
JM: I’m a sucker for Finnish accents, so when Marten recruited me it was game over.
Seriously, mission-driven companies are super important, and HackerOne’s mission to create a safer connected world is amazing. Love that HackerOne partners with ethical hackers to solve this problem. Everyone’s first reaction when I describe what we do is, “wow, that’s so cool!” I agree.
As far as my professional background goes, I geek out on problem-solving and working with customers. This all started after graduate school when I had no idea what I wanted to do so I went into management consulting with McKinsey & Company - see the world, solve tough problems, make cool charts. After consulting, wanted to focus on the technology sector which led me first to professional services at CA Technologies, and then most recently to hyper-growth SaaS at Medallia where we focused on customer experience management. Along the way I was fortunate enough to hold leadership roles in both pre and post sales.
Every organization connected to the internet today has a responsibility to protect the data they house. By leading HackerOne’s customer success I get the chance to aid internet security as a whole.
Q: What are you most excited about at HackerOne?
JM: HackerOne is creating a category dramatically improving our digital world. We don’t get many chances to do this. We fundamentally rely on technology for our personal and professional lives - from ubiquitous smartphones and IoT to ever-expanding cloud services. If we can’t trust our technology, none of it works. I love that HackerOne makes our connected lives safer. Perhaps even more importantly, I get to work with some incredible Hackeronies, hackers, and customers, which is always interesting work. And the swag game...no one is better.
Q: What does customer success mean to you?
JM: Treat customers as you wish to be treated. It’s as simple as that, really. I find that good things happen when you do so. For us at HackerOne, we start by understanding what you are solving for and determining the best way to work together. Everyone’s a bit different, and you need to get both right to make the relationship successful. Once we land on this we try to get ahead of the problem and make sure we are doing all we can to help you get the full value from HackerOne. Full stop. If we miss the mark, we get feedback and fix it. Our team makes it right, always.
In HackerOne’s context, we know we’ve achieved customer success when our customers are measurably safer as a result of our partnership - by identifying and resolving vulnerabilities, and/or proving security over-time - and they feel HackerOne is their trusted business partner every step of the way. Simply put - if you are willing to bother the person next to you on an airplane and tell her how great HackerOne is, we nailed it.
Q: Why is customer success so important for hacker-powered programs?
JM: It is early days for hacker-powered security; really taking off in recent years. Even still, we have over 300,000 global ethical hackers in our ecosystem and it is growing every day. 300,000. It is incredible, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. We see this expanding to over one million soon.
Our customer success team is crucial in bringing the full power of the hacker-powered security ecosystem to our customers. We help craft and design security policy pages, advise on vulnerability disclosure and bug bounty best practices, invite and encourage high impact hackers, triage vulnerability reports, facilitate feedback between hackers and customers, and provide ongoing security advisory services to accelerate program success. We do even more, of course, though we really see ourselves as the trusted partner - navigating a new space that isn’t always obvious. Our customer success team makes it so, and our customers continuously improving security posture demonstrates it.
Q: As a newcomer to the cybersecurity industry, what are your first impressions?
JM: As I learn more about cybersecurity, can’t help but think of Neo in the Matrix - red or blue pill. I took the red pill when I joined HackerOne, and am still finding out just how deep the cybersecurity rabbit hole goes.
Cybersecurity is fascinating - so many acronyms, maybe only the military has more acronyms. What makes cybersecurity cool though is the interplay of those seeking to breach, and those seeking to protect. I respect the intellectual challenge, the chess match and being able to leverage 300,000+ ethical hackers and our customer success team to make our customer’s security posture stronger. What we do matters. I see it every day.
I still bought a case of burner phones though...
Q: You’ve been in a leadership role several times over. Who is your leadership role model, spirit animal, doppelgänger?
JM: For leadership, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. “The Man in the Arena” gets me every single time. You have to get in the game and make it happen. We all stumble and struggle at times and that moment when it all comes together - totally worth it.