Martzen Haagsma
Engineering Manager of the Infrastructure Squad

Winning Together Through Synergy and Vulnerabilities

Winning Through Synergy

HackerOne holds an annual program recognizing five employees whose achievements embody the company's values. 

As a recipient of HackerOne's prestigious 2024 'Win as a Team' award, I'm excited to share my thoughts on what drives collective success. This particular award, 'Win as a Team,' emphasizes empowering and enabling colleagues to excel and embrace challenges, which resonates deeply with my core belief: together, we achieve more, or, as I like to say, 1 + 1 = 3. 

My inspiration for valuing teamwork comes from an early influential read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In his book, Covey outlines seven habits crucial for achieving personal and professional success and enhancing overall effectiveness in various aspects of life. The first three focus on self-improvement, and the latter four, particularly from the fourth to the sixth, highlight the power of collaboration and collective achievement. These three emphasize collaboration over competition, the importance of empathy, and the continuous quest for synergy. Let's take a closer look at how we embody these principles in action, starting with Habit 4: Think Win-Win.

Think Win-Win

Habit 4, Think Win-Win, is all about fostering high-trust relationships for better collaboration. At HackerOne, we embody this habit through a win-win mindset that is fundamental to all our interactions. This principle guides us in building strong partnerships both internally and with our clients. At HackerOne, these principles are not mere theories but form the foundation of our daily operations, particularly evident in our own managed Bug Bounty Program (BBP). Our goal is not just to be a leader in the field but to set the gold standard for bug bounty programs. We strive to leverage our platform for security and as a tool to uncover new possibilities for our customers.

Our strategy is similar to white-box testing in software development, where transparency about the system's inner workings is key. We keep our processes and challenges completely transparent, ensuring that every detail is visible to the whole team. In our Slack channel, discussions are held openly, and we strive to disclose as much information as possible. Additionally, we actively listen to the community and take their feedback seriously whenever we make a mistake. This transparency lets us see every detail, enhancing our understanding and problem-solving abilities. This approach, aligning with the win-win mindset, fosters mutual improvements and successes for both us and our clients.

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 5, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understoodfocuses on developing a deep understanding of others' needs and perspectives to influence them more effectively. In our BBP, a diverse group of stakeholders, including bug bounty hunters, engineers, and security analysts, collaborate. This platform serves as a prime example of dogfooding - we use our own system to detect and rectify vulnerabilities. By doing so, we not only improve our offerings but also deepen our understanding of our customer's needs and challenges, embodying the principle of empathetic understanding.

From the Customer Success Manager, who focuses on the program's success, to the Security Analyst, who is triaging the incoming report, to the engineer who brings the bug fix to production. By bringing together varied skills and viewpoints, we craft solutions that would be unattainable individually. 

This process of constantly refining our approach also embraces the 'shift left' movement in security. 'Shifting left' refers to integrating security measures earlier in the development process, rather than as an afterthought. By analyzing the bugs and vulnerabilities reported in our BBP, we're resolving current issues and gaining insights into how similar issues can be prevented in the future.

We aim to learn from each bug and use that knowledge to enhance our security protocols from the outset. This proactive approach helps build more secure systems from the ground up, reducing the likelihood of vulnerabilities in the later stages of development. Moreover, we're committed to sharing what we have learned with our customers. By providing them with insights and best practices gleaned from our BBP, we help them in their own 'shift left' journey. This includes guidance on incorporating security considerations early in their development cycles and training their teams to identify and mitigate potential risks from the start.


Habit 6, Synergize, emphasizes developing innovative solutions by leveraging differences and satisfying all stakeholders. This concept perfectly encapsulates the power of collaboration at HackerOne. By exploring the 'shift left' approach and learning from our bugs, we're not only improving our security posture but also empowering our customers to learn from their mistakes and prevent future occurrences. This continuous learning and improvement cycle is essential in our mission to create a safer digital ecosystem for everyone.

We must remember that our work's impact goes far beyond professional limits. When our hackers find security weaknesses, it personally highlights the wider consequences of what we do – such as protecting people close to me, like my parents and friends, from digital threats. This connection amplifies the significance of our work and the powerful synergy we create. For me, it’s more than winning as a team at HackerOne; it’s about forging a safer digital world for everyone.

Together, we've cultivated an environment where innovation is born from the diverse ideas and strengths we each bring to the table. It’s in this synergy where we find our greatest successes—where indeed, 1 + 1 equals 3. As we look to the future, let’s carry forward this momentum, embracing each challenge as an opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve together.

Here’s to continuing our journey with hearts and minds united, always striving to embody the 'Win as a Team' ethos. Let’s keep leveraging our collective expertise, driving towards a safer tomorrow. Together, we are unstoppable. Here's to winning as a team—today, tomorrow, and beyond!

The Ultimate Guide to Managing Ethical and Security Risks in AI

AI Ebook