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Someone Like Me | Gayle Berkeley and the safety of distributed

Below is an article originally written by Elastic Culture, a member of the Elastic team, a PowerToFly Partner. Go to Elastic's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

We all want to work for a company where we fit in. That's why Elastic built a Source Code that encourages all to come as they are. In the Someone Like Me blog series we highlight Elasticians who have a unique story — one, perhaps, just as unique as yours.

In this edition we talk to Gayle Berkeley, Principal Security Risk and Compliance Analyst at Elastic, about her military background, being differently abled and working remote, and raising Savannah cats in her spare time.

Where are you located and what's your role at Elastic?

I am a security risk and compliance analyst in the Information Security Department at Elastic. I've been here for almost a year. I'm in Herndon, Virginia, which is about 40 minutes outside of Washington D.C. and in the northern part of Virginia.

What do you do outside of work? What are your hobbies?

I rescue and foster Savannah cats! Savannah cats are very large cats that are part African serval. A lot of people get them and don't understand their needs, or how to keep them out of trouble. Often, they end up surrendering these cats to Savannah Cat Rescue. I volunteer for that organization. I'm also a board member of the Savannah Cat Care Fund, which helps fund veterinary and emergency services for Savannah cat owners so that they don't have to surrender them.

Snix and Peex lounging on Gayle's purple chair.

Have you always worked remote? Or is this your first remote role?

This is my first fully remote role. I spent seven years where it was a "special privilege" to have an occasional day at home. At my last role, which I was at for three years, I would have one day a week at home about every other week.

Does working remote suit you?

Working at home has been the best thing I could have ever hoped for. Being home with the cats is great. But from a health perspective, it's incredible. I'm differently abled, which goes back to 2002 when I was pregnant with my son. It was a complicated delivery, and I ended up in the ICU with blood clots in my lungs. It was traced back to a blood transfusion, and something at the micro level didn't work, so my body went into full autoimmune mode. Since then I've had more blood clots, pneumonia, asthma, and other complications. Being at home means my asthma isn't triggered by perfumes, cologne, or cigarette smoke, among other things. I also have to be more careful than most people to avoid the flu.

I'm sure with COVID-19, being able to work from home is an even greater relief.

Absolutely. I was always worried about risk, now I can forget about that for the most part. With all those external factors and worries removed, I can bring my whole brain and energy to the work.

What was your career like before coming to Elastic?

I have over 20 years of software company experience, but my first career position was in the US Army. I am a veteran of the "Cold War" era. My whole family was military. Both of my parents were Navy. My brother was a Marine. My sister married someone in the Air Force. I worked as a codebreaker at the National Security Agency (NSA). I have a lot of respect for people who serve today. It's so different than when I served.

The military background on Gayle's father's side of the family.

What made you join the army, besides your family's legacy in the armed forces?

I had an interest in foreign languages and the Army agreed to send me to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. I was there for German, but I ended up using my high school Spanish to do work in Spanish. I also learned a little Russian along the way.

What got you into the security space?

When I had my son I was Worldwide Vice President of IT at a Fortune 500 company. At my peak, I had about 300 people reporting to me. When I had my son, my priorities changed. I took a step back and, for a moment, considered opening a preschool because I couldn't find one for my son. I spent about a year doing that before I decided it wasn't for me, and that I wanted to get back to work where I could have a regular schedule.

I stumbled into security by accident. I came from the IT side of the house — telco, applications development, custom apps development, and building enterprise apps for internal use. That's where my background was. In 2008 I got certified as an information systems auditor. I was just fascinated with the whole concept of control frameworks and how you apply them, and how you test conformance to them. That's sort of how I ended up where I am now on the security side of the house.

Since 2015, I've been an individual contributor — maybe 20 years ago I wouldn't have wanted that, but it suits me now.

Can you talk about your experience and the journey through your career being a female with a diverse background?

The opportunities for women were very different when I started out. Taking a look at the management ranks around me, and every management position I've ever had, I'm like, the only woman or the only Hispanic or the only veteran. And some of that gets in your head, and you have to fight it. Getting to that Vice President level was a harder, slower path than it was for pretty much all of my male peers. People tended to prefer hiring men for management positions. So I was bumping into the glass ceiling for the bulk of my management career. I hope I've made it easier for those behind me to do less of that.

What brought you to Elastic?

Funny story. I wasn't looking for a new job, but Molly Cain (Senior Associate on Talent Brand, formerly on Recruiting) contacted me after seeing my LinkedIn profile. I was in an incident response role at the time and she asked me if I would be interested in a similar role at Elastic. However, when I started looking at the role, I realized that there was a more attractive position in a compliance/governance role that was posted. So I applied for that and ended up getting it.

What's your favorite part of being an individual contributor?

Our management team is amazing, and the group that I work in consists of some of the most amazing people I've ever worked with. They're just all so talented. They're motivated, self driven, collaborative. It's really nice. When I came here I had never used any of the systems that Elastic uses. I hadn't even used Elastic, though I knew about it from my InfoSec trainings.

Is there a piece of the Source Code that resonates with you?

I love all of it. The Source Code was one of the big draws of me coming here. But if I were to choose one, it would have to be Progress, SIMPLE Perfection. For my entire career, up to this point, I've been conditioned to not show my work until it was absolutely finished. I spent many years as a consultant producing deliverables that nobody would ever see until they were tossed over the fence for review. Here, that goes out the window. I like that we show as we go, and people here like to work together, comment, and shape things. We're not aiming for perfection right off the bat. It's been amazing to realize that I can confidently make steps in one direction and if it isn't right, I can course correct and that's OK.

Interested in joining a company with a Source Code to live by? We're hiring. Check out our teams and find the right career for you! Want to read more? Learn more about Life at Elastic on our blog!


How These Companies Are Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.


The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

3 Pieces of Advice from Working Moms at Pluralsight

Being fully committed to work and family is a challenge that many working parents have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless pursuing a fulfilling full-time career, while taking an active role as a parent. Achieving a healthy balance can help keep you motivated and productive at work, while allowing you to be fully present when you're home.

We recently chatted with working moms at technology skills platform, Pluralsight, about their best advice for striking that elusive work-life balance. Here were their key points:


How to Make the Most of Being on a Growing Team: 3 Tips from Plex’s Adriana Bosinceanu

When the startup Adriana Bosinceanu was working for got acquired, things changed fast.

She went from being one of eight engineers on a small team building a streaming service to joining a company that was five times larger and had a much bigger scope.

That company was Plex, where Adriana has been working remotely as a software engineer for the last four and a half years.

As her team grew from two people to ten, Adriana decided to lean into the opportunity to grow; along the way, she found herself deepening her technical skills, her self-confidence, and her relationships. We sat down with Adriana to learn exactly how she did that, and to hear the tips she has for other engineers experiencing growth opportunities on their team.

Career and Interview Tips

10 Tips to Stand Out at a Virtual Job Fair

Your guide to preparing for virtual career fairs and making a great impression with recruiters

According to a LinkedIn survey, up to 85% of jobs are filled via networking. For job seekers, virtual job fairs make networking with recruiters more convenient. You can interact with potential employers from all over the world, ask them questions, and apply for jobs. Every event is different, but they most often include video conferencing features, chat rooms, and Q&A sessions.

Dilyara Timerbulatova, Virtual Job Fair Coordinator at PowerToFly explains that, "virtual job fairs have many benefits, namely connecting top talent and recruiters that would otherwise never cross paths. These events are a tool to help companies build well-rounded, diverse teams that align with the company culture and business vision."


Pride At Work: Learn more about Our Partners, Sponsors & Speakers

Learn more about our amazing speakers and sponsors at our June 2021 virtual summit Diversity Reboot: Pride At Work, three days of conversations and panels plus an interactive virtual career fair.

Our Pride At Work summit certainly made us proud! PowerToFly was thrilled to present talks by members of the LGBTQIA+ community alongside some amazing allies. Our conversations ranged from leaders at the highest levels of government positions to visionaries in the worlds of business & tech to artists from the music and entertainment industry. If you tuned in, and celebrated our speakers, thank you! And if you missed the summit or would like to re-watch any of the talks, those conversations will all be available to watch for free on PowerToFly.

We want to extend a HUGE thanks to our amazing sponsors American Express, NGA, Smartsheet, S&P Global, Raytheon Technologies, PwC and Esri plus our media partner MMCA.

If you can, please consider donating to some of the amazing organizations we highlighted at the summit including GLITS, fighting for the health and rights of transgender sex workers; Garden State Equality, the largest LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization in New Jersey, with over 150,000 members; National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, including people living with HIV/AIDS; and NYC Anti-Violence Project, empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy.

Plus, don't forget to visit our Merch Store and grab yourself some PowerToFly apparel. 100% of the proceeds from our sales will be going to TransTech Social, supporting transgender and non-binary people in tech.

Finally, registration for our July 12th - 15th virtual summit Diversity Reboot: Tech For Social Impact is now open! Join us to learn about founders from mission-driven organizations and their social impact. Register for free here
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