Every day we hear of another ransomware or cybersecurity incident impacting a Canadian company or...
Community builder – Francois Guay's path to cybersecurity
Let me start with a lesson in failure. In 2001, during the telecom bust, I decided to take a generous package and leave Nortel Networks, where I had been the VP of Global Recruiting. From helping the organization grow from 60,000 employees to over 118,000 at its peak, it was time to go. Building, growing, innovating has always been part of my DNA, nothing is more difficult for me than maintaining or dismantling.
One of my habits in those days, was to go to the library and pick up books on various subjects and see what I could pick up from random subjects to use for innovation and moonshots.
During this period, I was reading about natural ecosystems in one book and simultaneously in another book, about how Boston became a beacon as a technology hub. Having an HR background and having just lived the Nortel experience, I came up with Bright Circles. Reading about the interconnectivity in nature and in how Boston came together as a technology and fintech powerhouse drove my vision and passion to build a tech community.
This was in 2001, and Bright Circles was an interconnected hub for individuals from various companies, both ex-employees and current employees who could network together for networking, job search, group purchasing discounts, etc. It integrated one of the world’s largest job aggregators and a discount platform for group buying. Does the platform seem familiar?
I refer to it now as Linkedin before Linkedin, three to four years ahead of their emergence. But it was too early, it failed. Every VC asked me the same question. What is it? It’s not software, it’s not hardware. No one was really doing services companies at the time and if they were, they were not profitable. So, I closed that dream.
The Canadian Cybersecurity Network was born from that. After years of consulting in IT, technology in both government and the private sector, I did a stint at a large cybersecurity company where I had the privilege of working with some amazing people who opened my eyes to the possibilities of cybersecurity. When my contract finished there, I started the Canadian Cybersecurity Network, in Linkedin Groups with an aim of building a national community. Those early days were difficult; I started with 0 group members and had to build and convince people to join. Every day was about growing the network, adding value nationally, building coalitions, approaching early adapters while doing my day to day recruiting and consulting commitments.
Soon it grew into a national presence and started to evolve based on member needs. We then added our Canadian Cybersecurity Network platform, Canadian Cybersecurity Jobs, Snapshot Talent Platform, Webinars, mentoring platform, marketing and recruiting services, as well as upcoming Hackers on the Hill and our Stronger Together diversity program.
My advice to entrepreneurs is to be daring, take moonshots, but listen to customers and the community to find out what they want. Pilot and scale appropriately based on results and surround yourself with doers and people that are smarter than you.
I have been blessed by people that believe in the vision of the Canadian Cybersecurity Network; all our leadership team, all our business partners and sponsors and many of you who quietly share content or share advice with me during the year. I thank you and I wish I could do more to help each one of you on your cybersecurity journey. I am only one person, but this community is growing stronger every day. You can stop one person, but you can never stop a community who believes in what it is doing. Stronger Together.