My journey to find a people-valued company

Nicholas Telford

Published on 6 February 2020

My journey to find a people-valued company

Newly appointed CFO, Nick Telford, talks about his decision to join the Elevate Security team

I believe that everyone ends up in a place in life because they either chose that path or because “fate” helped frame the choice. My journey to Elevate Security has been a little of both.

My last role as CFO at Bugcrowd was an incredible ride. Bugcrowd was a unique and rewarding experience – in Bugcrowd I found a company that both had an amazing product and platform and also an outstanding team. Particularly in the last 5 years, a lot of funding has been moving into the end-point security space and as a result, there are many many players and not a whole lot of differentiation. Frankly, they all sound the same. But Bugcrowd shared something near and dear to me – the human element. Bugcrowd found a way to solve human problems with humans and to me, that was so cool.

Before I am a CFO, I am a father of four wonderful children. Being present in their lives has always been a priority to me from coaching their sports, to being the dance team parent, and everything in between. So when one of my children had health issues, the decision to leave my role to focus on their health was an easy one. Coming out the other end of the health issues, I realized even more so how important the human element is – in the age of technology to solve all problems, there is nothing that can replace the pure engagement and interaction among people.

So when I began my journey to find a company similar to Bugcrowd that focused on the human element, I knew it might be a challenge. Opportunities for CFOs were there but finding a company at the right scale, and not just focused on tech, but also on people – that would be harder.

A few months into my search, I was introduced to Elevate Security and Co-founders Robert Fly and Masha Sedova. After being wildly impressed by Robert, Masha and the whole team,  I decided to join on a consultative basis while I took my time to find the perfect company elsewhere. While I tried to stay at arms length and focus on the work that needed to be done, I couldn’t help but be taken by what an extraordinary company Robert and Masha had built. The best fit was right in front of me, with the marriage of technology, behavioral science, and wonderful people.

From the company’s inception just three years ago, Robert and Masha had already integrated the human element into everything that they built – including the product and the team.

  • They created five core values that they reiterate every chance that they get. These core values are integrated into the product and culture of the team so much so that employees are given superhero capes when they are nominated for exemplifying the core values.
  • They’ve built a product and company focused on diversity in an industry where diversity is struggling.
  • The company was created with the goal of focusing on the humans and their experience and interaction with cybersecurity training, tools, and teams. The industry is flooded with FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) so instead of scaring employees to change, Elevate Security focuses on changing security behavior using positive motivation, not fear.

I had my ideal company profile in mind and it looked somewhat different from Elevate Security – later stage, larger – but once I saw that Elevate Security was aligned with my most important characteristic – people – I knew it was the place for me.