In college, I took a job at a computer center as a consultant and programmer.
It was real bearskins and stone knives back in those days. The whole center was much less powerful than my iPhone. Still, I could imagine a path to make a living in computer science.
I had a friend who formed his own consulting company called Lachman Technologies, where I became senior architect and developer as we produced a number of products that we sold to the folks who back then were the Google and Apple of today.
It was a really exciting time, when computers were moving from mainframe to open systems.
Silicon Valley was buzzing. I worked 18 hours a day. We grew to 120 people before we sold our company to one that was bought by what is now CA Technologies.
I was an executive there for a while until I determined that my love of technology was better spent building small start-ups into large companies.
I decided to take a year off and look for my next move. I ran into the gentleman who now is the chief executive of Xceedium.
He had just become chief executive of a public company called FTP Software, a networking innovator. I was really interested in networking so I jumped in as the head of business development and marketing, and we spent three years realigning the company’s operations. Three years later, we eventually sold the company.
This was the end of the 1990s, when the Internet boom was in high gear. We decided to create our own incubator called Zero-G that focused on small, early-stage tech companies. We invested in them, advised them and helped them grow — until the Internet boom became the Internet bust. We hit a brick wall. We found all of our companies homes, we returned the remaining money to investors, and we put our incubator on the shelf.
At that point, I took another year off. Some friends of ours asked us to become the executive management team for a managed securities services company called NetSec in Northern Virginia. We grew it aggressively, 200 percent that year and 100 percent the following year. At the end of the year, MCI asked to buy the company. We sold and closed that transaction three weeks before Verizon bought MCI.
At the tail end of our stint at NetSec, we had encountered an interesting business problem. These large companies wanted us to guard their perimeter against cyberattacks but also connect 7,000 employees to their network and outsource all of their database administration to India, and so on.
It was pretty clear that this was going to be an enormous problem for everyone. I realized that Xceedium actually had a solution to this problem.
I jumped in, and it’s been a fantastic ride so far.
—Interview with Vanessa Small
Position: Chief operating officer at Xceedium, a Herndon, Va., security software company.
Career highlights: Senior vice president of managed security, MCI; senior vice president of corporate development, NetSec; managing director, Zero-G; senior vice president of marketing and business development, FTP Software; vice president of technology, Computer Associates; vice president of technology, Lachman Technologies.
Education: BA, mathematics, University of Illinois.
Personal: Lives in McLean with wife and two children