Meet the WIICTA winner: Brearna Leopold of CrowdStrike

Meet the WIICTA winner: Brearna Leopold of CrowdStrike

Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) has celebrated gender diversity and recognised female excellence across the Australia tech channel since first launching in 2012, acknowledging the achievements of a talented group of female front runners who have become influential figures across the local industry.

Brearna Leopold (CrowdStrike) wins WIICTA Rising Star (Vendor) Award in 2021

Brearna Leopold (CrowdStrike) wins WIICTA Rising Star (Vendor) Award in 2021

Credit: ARN / IDG

As winner of the Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) Rising Star (Vendor) award in 2021, Brearna Leopold joined CrowdStrike in 2018 as its only intern across Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ).

Combining cyber security channel sales with full-time study, Brearna created CrowdStrike APJ's intern guide and wrote the handbook to guide their development. Now an inside channel sales manager, Brearna continues to dedicate herself to CrowdStrike's next wave of young talent towards sales and cyber security excellence.

How did you get into the IT industry?

During my third year at university, I joined CrowdStrike’s sales development team as an intern. I was drawn to the industry’s culture of innovation and the growth opportunities on offer. The IT Industry is fun, fast-paced and challenging. Thankfully, it is also becoming more inclusive.

Having come from a business/commerce background, with little prior exposure to IT, I found the different areas of the industry really exciting. Reading stories about high profile cyber attacks in the news each day fuelled my passion for cyber security in particular. At CrowdStrike, I feel as though I’m making a real-world impact by helping our customers and partners prevent these types of attacks.

What were some of your key achievements in the past few months?

My proudest achievement to date was when I won the WIICTA Vendor Rising Star Award. It was also the first industry awards event I’ve attended. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet so many high-achieving women and left feeling inspired by their impressive contributions and career highlights. It was also great to meet individuals from our partners and vendors in person, which has been difficult recently. Winning the award was such an honour and certainly one of the highlights of my career so far.

Another personal achievement of mine was making the transition from a sales development representative role (graduate position) into a channel account manager role. It was a year filled with new challenges, including leading boardroom meetings for the first time and presenting to large audiences (such as 600+ attendees at WIICTA). Adapting to change, taking risks and owning my 'firsts' are attributes I am proud of and will continue working on throughout my career.

Brearna Leopold (CrowdStrike) wins WIICTA Rising Star (Vendor) Award in 2021Credit: ARN / IDG
Brearna Leopold (CrowdStrike) wins WIICTA Rising Star (Vendor) Award in 2021

Who or what has most influenced you professionally?

Entering the industry at a young age, and back when CrowdStrike was still considered a start-up company, I was fortunate to work alongside a great team that collectively took me under their wing. As an intern, I worked alongside the sales development representatives (a team of recent graduates) and watched them learn the fundamentals of technology sales.

This gave me the opportunity to learn from their successes and failures, and hone in on my own sales skills. I also had other senior team members and mentors who would let me shadow them at work, or shout me a coffee to better understand my goals and offer helpful advice.

They encouraged me to continue to step out of my comfort zone, take risks and make the most of the opportunities being presented to me. I owe all of my success to this group of individuals who took the time to support me and my career.

What is the most surprising or profound thing you've learned or discovered while working in the IT industry?

There is always so much more to learn, and I have come to understand the importance of being a forever student. In an industry that is always changing, you must keep an open mind and continue to improve upon your skills. In a technical sense, understanding product and key terms is essential. However, soft skills like problem solving are equally valuable, no matter the role. I’ve also discovered the importance of diversity, working as a team, and clear communication when facing issues.

Lastly, 'your network is your net worth' is a phrase I came across often in the early days of my career. It wasn’t until recently that I fully appreciated its meaning. The IT industry is a space where everybody knows everybody and people are willing to support one another. It’s important to understand how to best leverage your own personal network and not limit this to only those within your company.

What are your professional ambitions going forward?

In the short-term, I would like to move into an enterprise-based alliances role, which will allow me the opportunity to work on larger accounts alongside partners with national and global presence. I am also keen to gain international experience, either by working overseas or becoming more involved in our global programs and networks. I intend to use the next five years to learn and experience as much as I possibly can.

My long-term goal is to be in a global leadership position. One day, I would like to be in a position to influence the industry as a whole and play a role in shaping its future. Cyber security, for instance, has such a profound impact on people’s lives and businesses. I am excited to be a part of what this looks like in years to come.

I also find it very rewarding helping others to develop professionally and shape their careers. A passion of mine is encouraging younger females to apply for IT positions, highlighting the different opportunities on offer beyond technical roles. Above all, I hope that one day my career path will inspire others.

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