Finding Your Grit with Deloitte's Deborah Golden

Celebrating Women's History in Cybersecurity

In celebration of Women's History Month, Palo Alto Networks is highlighting female leaders in our partner community who are actively making history across the cybersecurity and technology industries. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Deborah (Deb) Golden. She is the US Cyber & Strategic Risk and Cyber Strategic Growth Offering Leader for the Risk & Financial Advisory practice at Deloitte & Touche LLP (Deloitte). Since joining Deloitte over 26 years ago, her growth-oriented and inclusive approach has inspired cultural shifts and incited positive impact at Deloitte and beyond. She inspires others through her advocacy as a change agent, identifying opportunities for innovative transformation that enables organizations to transcend current positioning, performance and capabilities.

Deb currently leads one of Deloitte's largest growth and business transformation offering portfolios in the company's 175-year history. She manages over 8,000 professionals (across the US, India and Israel). Energized by a relentless curiosity and passion for learning, Deb seeks to help businesses solve complex challenges, amplified by digital transformation, so they can confidently navigate against cyber-attacks. She shared how self-reflection and embracing her personal life experiences have helped her harness her strengths – elevating her resilient mindset and grounding her to persevere with optimism for today's and tomorrow's journey!

Grit: What It Is and How You Can Learn It

By assessing her capabilities through self-reflection, Deb discovered her "grit factor"– the strength she gained from overcoming adversity. She used this to conquer future challenges and propel her forward in her life and career. "Grit is our story – the combination of perseverance and passion that fuels performance. It's who we are, the challenges we've overcome and the lessons we've learned along the way," Deb told me.

Grit and the subsequent resilience develops and becomes evident in the face of life's experiences. This is something Deb encountered as a teenager while caring for her mother, who passed away at an early age from cancer.

"Throughout her illness, my mother encouraged me to embrace my curiosity, especially through my education – finding my voice along the way because, after all, you don't know what you don't know." Deb has gained insight through healthy coping and mourning, coupled with post-traumatic growth and reflection.

Her experience helped bring meaning to her loss, which ultimately enabled Deb to build her resilience, which is grounded in her passion for being of service to others. Deb said, "I often reflect on my mother's absence and appreciate even the faintest of memories, grateful that everything my mother taught me continues to guide me – she made me resilient."

Harnessing Grit for Professional Success

One of Deb's grit factors is her innate ability to adaptively bring order to situational chaos, innovating along the way as a means to excel through transformation, which in and of itself is chaotic. She explains that with self-reflection and awareness, and her continued insatiable fondness for curiosity, these moments in her journey had been the doorway toward personal and professional evolution. Her experience enabled her to "bounce forward," not backward, and provide her the fortitude to deal with challenges and ambiguity, coming back stronger each time.

Through reflection of the adversity faced in my professional and personal
life, coupled with my grit and resilience, I've been able to uncover opportunities
in chaotic situations while, at the same time, finding creative solutions to the
most challenging problems. This has often led to the creation of new paths where
an approach didn't previously seem viable.

When you think about the sheer volume of different perspectives and the rate of constant change in the cybersecurity industry, it appears chaotic at times. And, no matter what we do to try to predict behavior and trends, there is a chance that the measures will be outmaneuvered, especially in an ever-changing landscape. Deb’s ability to remain calm – to see beyond the chaos and prepare for those unforeseen curves – enables her to help clients combat their challenges while working to drive a higher degree of mitigation through resilience.

By taking the time to understand, embrace and learn from her experiences, Deb developed these personal attributes that propelled her throughout her career and, subsequently, her path to executive leadership, including navigating and thriving as a woman in cybersecurity. She became a personal mentor, advocate and role model for women and underrepresented professionals at various stages of their careers. Deb explains:

My thinking (and passions) revolve around the potential that exists beyond the
‘normal’ or the status quo. And while it's that ethos that, to this day, helps me
maximize my personal growth, it also helps create opportunities (and access them)
for others in the industry, typically by carving out unconventional paths.

Deb also encourages everyone to embark on a self-reflective journey, identify their unique strengths, and hone those capabilities through practice. Looking internally for individual strengths – embracing your grit to build resilience and finding your unique voice – can be a significant step towards professional success and advancement.

Palo Alto Networks and Deloitte: A Partnership Powered by Individual Strengths

Deb accredits much of her professional success to embracing her grit factor and explains that the relationship between Palo Alto Networks and Deloitte is similarly grounded in the individual strengths each brings to the table, making the collective impact greater than the sum of its parts. Deb explains:

It's the strengths of our organizations that drive our joint success. The products and
assets that Palo Alto Networks brings, combined with the breadth and depth that
Deloitte offers from a cyber and strategic risk perspective, and our collective ability
to nimbly pivot and help our clients address their challenges, differentiates our
marketplace impact.

Together, Deloitte and Palo Alto Networks have created go-to-market offerings that help organizations protect their important digital initiatives, simplify complex security infrastructures, and achieve cost-optimized business outcomes. With the broad range of joint solutions, our relationship covers a breadth of capabilities across the software development lifecycle as we fuel innovation to enable our clients to stay resilient in the face of persistent cyber threats.

For more information about Palo Alto Networks and Deloitte’s relationship, check out our alliance webpage. Follow Deb on LinkedIn for more advice on finding your strengths and accelerating your professional journey.

Meet other inspiring women propelling business in our "Women In Tech" profiles.