The ExaGals program focuses on supporting and empowering the women of Exabeam, as well as women in the technology community at large, with career development, education and personal growth opportunities.
ExaGals meets regularly for networking and information sharing and is a key contributor to the Exabeam Cares philanthropic program dedicated to improving local and global communities through education and service. The ExaGals team leads a number of community giving and volunteer initiatives at Exabeam, primarily focused on advocating for women and girls and educating on cybersecurity career opportunities.
Our Origin Story
The first version of ExaGals launched one year after Exabeam was founded. There were a handful of women in the company and Nir Polak, our CEO and co-founder, asked three of them to form a Company Culture Committee (CCC). Culture was (and is) paramount to Nir. He knew the biggest mistake organizations can make is letting the workplace culture form naturally without first defining what it should be. Exabeam was small enough to be fun, casual, and impulsive, but big enough to need a team that could wrangle that brash young energy and mold it onto a cohesive organizational culture. He believed these three women embodied the values, behaviors and attitudes he wanted at Exabeam, and wanted to support them as more women joined the company.
It started with lunch. Since the CCC appointment came with more responsibility and no budget, they negotiated that the company would pay for a monthly lunch. As more women were hired they were also invited to lunch, even if they weren’t involved in planning. This introduced an interesting inflection point: there were enough women now to create a distinct group. And they needed a name, eventually choosing ExaGals. The prefix Exa, often used internally, and the word Gal for two meanings: the first, a classic and approachable synonym for woman, and the second, a more obscure meaning, a measurement unit of gravitational acceleration.
Exabeam’s market acceleration was off the charts so the metaphor fit. And it fit culturally, ExaGals were cultivating the values and identity that the people of Exabeam shared and helped forge the company culture we have today.
Evolving an Idea
As more women joined the company they brought with them more ideas and inspiration of where ExaGals’ energies should be spent. The CCC and the ExaGals eventually diverged, with the mission of the CCC focused internally, still to harmonize and usher the company culture. The mission of the ExaGals is moving ever more externally to focus not only on the women of Exabeam, but women in the broader technology community and beyond.
One of the areas we identified as a challenge in the cybersecurity labor gap is the lack of women in the “pipeline.” In other words, there is a paucity of qualified female college graduates entering the workforce. Our hope is that by supporting programs that expose women and girls to the possibilities of an education and career in tech, we can help address the cybersecurity skills shortage by introducing new perspectives and problem-solving skills to an industry that requires a multidisciplinary approach to protect against adversaries. Diversity truly improves the overall outcomes of security teams, an area where we believe a new way of thinking can help.
Who knows how many more iterations of the program there will be and how many more women the ExaGals will be championing. The takeaway: no matter how few of you there are or the size of your mission, it’s important to continue to self-evaluate, refine what is important, and ask the questions that will help you get ahead. Start moving and accelerate.