Thorough. Organized. Thoughtful. Supportive. Creative. Calm. Highly experienced. Inspirational. One of the best managers I have ever had the opportunity to work with.
When asked to describe Vasili Panopoulos, his colleagues had no shortage of ringing endorsements. In an industry as crowded as cybersecurity, it takes a unique skill set to help a company stand out above the rest. Thankfully, Kenna Security found just such a skill set in its senior director of demand generation a little over a year ago. With his impeccable attention to detail, problem-solving attitude, and infectious smile, Vasili has made a remarkable impact in the way that Kenna Security engages with the world at events, allowing us to show off the vibrant culture and exceptional expertise behind our technology like never before.
In our latest Employee Spotlight interview, we sat down with Vasili to get to know him a bit better and understand his journey to and with Kenna.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up between three countries across two continents. I was born in Greece, but I’ve also lived in Canada and the United States. The first time I moved I was 10 years old, and my last relocation to Canada was when I was 16 years old. I settled down in the United States not too long thereafter.
My family went through a series of moves due to the precarious political situation in Greece. There was a military dictatorship at the time, and my father was actually a physicist employed by the government. In an unfortunate turn of events, his team was asked to work on a project with unknown safety ramifications. When he declined to proceed with the project, he became persona non grata in Greece and struggled to find work. So, he decided that it was time to move somewhere that was safer and would offer us all more opportunities.
Q: How did you come into this field of work?
A: I originally aspired to be an architect. Early on in college, I did an internship with a firm and discovered that it really wasn’t a career path I was interested in pursuing after all. At the time, I was taking a business class taught by a professor who was on loan from another university. The class really resonated with me and I decided to officially switch majors and focus on business with an emphasis in marketing. I attribute a lot to that professor—Professor Gerald Speth—because that class really helped shape my career.
Q: What keeps you motivated to get out of bed and come into work every morning?
A: I’d say there are two things. First and foremost, I really love working with people. Specifically, I love working with a team of people that produce amazing things and really strive to make a difference. I’m definitely a people person, and what really gets me motivated to go into our San Francisco office every day is knowing that every person in that office is a genuinely nice person and is exceptionally driven. Everyone is for a common cause.
Secondly, I really thrive on not just the end result but the journey of getting there. Whether it’s redesigning a website or planning a major conference, I love putting the puzzle pieces together and producing something that really exceeds everyone’s expectations. I’m a planner and very detail-oriented by nature, and I believe that makes things much easier.
Q: What’s the most important or interesting trend you’re seeing in our industry?
A: There’s a lot of noise out there. In the cybersecurity space, there are thousands of companies vying for 15 seconds of the same individual’s time, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do that. It’s imperative as “marketers” that we continuously find ways to delight our customers and prospects.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: I think there are two pieces of advice that have been really impactful in my life.
First, always strive to delight. What I mean by that is to always try to exceed people’s expectations and do something that is unexpected.
The second piece of advice is to always develop relationships so that you can work more effectively with others. Early in my career, I worked on the agency side in advertising, and I had several clients at a time. In those kinds of situations, it’s so critical to really have a solid relationship with the clients and to understand their pain points, what motivates them, how best to communicate with them, etc. This mentality really helped me a lot even as I moved into the client side. Today, my “clients” are our sales team members and it’s essential for me to understand how I can communicate with them most effectively and be of service to them.
Q: If you had a day off today, what would you do?
A: If the weather is great, I would go to Half Moon Bay! I love to just spend an unplanned day with friends or family by the ocean, walking around, and perhaps grabbing drinks and dinner.
Q: If you could do another job for a day, what would you do?
A: I would work at a dog shelter. I love dogs; I have two Yorkies of my own.
Q: What are 5 must-have songs on your road trip playlist?
A: To Believe by The Cinematic Orchestra
Monument by Röyksopp
Modern Flame by Emmit Fenn
Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack
You’ve Got the Love by Florence and the Machine
Q: Beach vacation or mountain vacation?
A: Beach vacation
Q: Apple or Android?
Q: Be able to fly or turn invisible?
A: Be able to fly
Q: Cake or cookies?
Q: Superman or Batman?
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