Meet the Team: coffee break with the Managing Director at NordLayer

Meet the Team the NordLayer vision driver blog cover 1400x800

We had the opportunity to sit down with Donatas Tamelis, the Managing Director at NordLayer, the driving force behind the company's strategy and vision. He mapped out what sets NordLayer apart in the competitive cybersecurity landscape and how the team plays a crucial role in bringing the company to the top. 

Donatas, how many cups of coffee have you already had today?

Only five, and it's not even the end of the day :) 

You must be fueled with energy all the time! But, on a more serious note, could you share with us what it takes to be a part of one of the most promising cybersecurity companies in the country and navigate it through the industry challenges? 

Well, it happens that I work with companies in their early stages, so NordLayer is no exception. Most early-stage companies share the same denominator – they start from something very small.

I joined the company about four years ago, and even back then, what set it apart was the well-developed product and market positioning. It helped eliminate the unknown factor if the product has any potential and gave the freedom to start strong.

Being there from the beginning has its own magic. Establishing strong foundations and building high-performing teams are key moments for a successful start and ongoing achievements. It’s no secret that jumpstarting a business that develops superior products is an exciting journey for a Managing Director and, I presume, for everyone else involved.

As a leader, how important is the team to you? What are you looking for when you are forming your squad?

I’m happy that now at NordLayer, we have a full leadership team and key people who run the processes and take care of our organization units. Personally, I invest a lot of thought into the hiring process. I carefully interview and select individuals to see if they fit the picture I have for the successful organization direction.

For me, as a manager, the previous experience or future focus fade away compared to what personality traits and attitude the prospect has. It has little to no importance if someone has graduated from Harvard five times. What matters most is our ability to work together and good chemistry.

In a leadership role, it is important to have resilience to stress. Running a business can sometimes lead to very uncertain situations when you don’t know how it’s supposed to be and don’t have an instant solution. And panicking isn’t the way to proceed. So people who manage should listen to others, observe, weather the storm and return to the problem the next day to make informed decisions. When the stakes get high, I choose to work with the team members who exhibit those qualities. 

What is your strategy-building process?

My approach is always to have a bottom-up perspective. If you take a helicopter view of the problem, you get a scattered and disjointed overview of priorities. To avoid wasting time, energy and resources, I crystalize the main problems that are really important at the time instead of focusing on a million irrelevant issues that can be addressed later.

Strategy flowchart

I believe that for a leader, it’s important to be present and get their hands deep into the problem. This level of involvement helps clearly understand the situation and manage the expectations for possible outcomes, scope, and the team's role in it.

Could you name a few top highlights and achievements of NordLayer? 

As an organization, we achieve quite a lot in those four years. One of the highlights was creating a fundamental leadership team as the base for organizational growth and progress. From a company evolution perspective, it puts NordLayer in a very good place. The help of balanced leadership enables me to have better insights into the life of every company unit and gauge the team dynamics.

Another achievement is a well-defined product roadmap. We have identified the crucial components, how we validate them, and how we treat external information. Our product management team has introduced a methodical approach to product development strategy.

Knowing that our product solves real customer problems is a huge achievement for our company and all contributors. Through various metrics, such as retention and growth, we can see that there is a  demand for the product we create. 

What is your idea of standing out as a product in a saturated cybersecurity market?

Mobility, flexibility, and security are the features that lead to current business needs. NordLayer sets itself apart from other cybersecurity solutions by enabling all ways of working in a digital world.

We aim to help businesses make this shift in the most accessible and organization-friendly way, catering to companies of all sizes and structures. With our flexible and easy-to-implement cybersecurity solutions, NordLayer ensures enhanced protection against cyber attacks, surpassing the capabilities of traditional VPNs.

Our driving force is to make complex things easy, so users can enjoy the benefits of the solved problem rather than struggling with it. NordLayer focuses on three key pillars - internet access security, network and resources access management and achieving compliance. This comprehensive approach ensures business network and device security against cyber attacks and potential risks.

I’ve recently had a nice and in-depth discussion with Security Detectives about NordLayer's focus and unique offering. I’d really like to encourage you to check it out to gain further insights.

Could you reveal what to expect from NordLayer in the near future? 

We recently released the NordLayer Browser Extension, an alternative agent to our application that our team worked tirelessly on. We are happy about the successful launch because the extension provides security on a browser level for users who need a lighter option to use NordLayer in various work scenarios.

Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) is the next thing brewing this year. It’s the most significant project in the product’s history to this date in terms of its complexity, resources and competencies. All our focus and development efforts are concentrated on finalizing and launching another element of the Security Service Edge (SSE) framework. 

FWaaS will bring NordLayer to a more unified SSE provider, as we already offer Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions and Secure Web Gateway (SWG) functionalities. We constantly improve our product, its solutions, and user experience for our customers and partners. It allows us to maintain a clear direction in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape.

What would be your tips and recommendations for envisioning and building a business cybersecurity strategy?

When building a strategy, whether cybersecurity or business development, the most essential element is the team. It’s the foundation for a good starting point.

Then it’s crucial to assess the priorities for securing your business. If it’s unclear where to begin, a helpful practice is to break down the OSI levels and audit your organization's security practices against them. This will give you a better understanding of what to improve and work on first.

Naturally, everything starts from an idea, but taking a constructive approach to a problem helps achieve the best results with minimum resource waste. Balance the team and start with a plan. We at NordLayer know how difficult it may be to grasp the complexity of effective cybersecurity, so we introduced the Decision Maker’s Kit, a guide that leads you through all the stages of creating a cybersecurity strategy.

Thank you.

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