by | Apr 6, 2023

Ep. 1 | Nelson Soares Founder & CEO of C-Vision International


Cyber Glass Ceiling Episode One

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Podcast Summary

Nelson Soares is a highly accomplished business leader, who has held various leadership positions throughout his career. He is the Founder, CEO & President of C-Vision International, a global event and advisory firm that fosters collaboration among visionary leaders. He is also a Co-Chair of Ambassadors for Cyversity, a non-profit organization dedicated to the academic and professional success of Minority Cybersecurity students and professionals.

In addition to his roles at C-Vision International and Cyversity, Nelson is the Executive Director of the Board for Pocket Security, a cyber security non-profit organization that helps other non-profits develop tailored cyber security plans. Pocket Security educates, creates awareness, and develops a plan in cyber security, risk management, and business continuity to help non-profit organizations make informed and strategic decisions as they carry out their mission.

Nelson’s diverse professional experience, coupled with his outstanding leadership skills and commitment to social responsibility, has enabled him to become a respected and accomplished leader in his field. He is a true believer in the power of collaboration and networking and has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills throughout his career. Nelson is a proud husband & father of two girls and enjoys cooking and travelling with his family

Show Notes

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Nelson Soares | LinkedIn

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Audio Transcription

Episode 1 – Nelson Soares 06.04.23

Charles James: Welcome to my podcast, Cyber Glass Ceiling. I’m going to have a light-hearted fireside chat with some people who are leaders in the industry of cyber security. Prominent for the fact that they are women, people of colour, LGBTQ, or just different. The term glass ceiling refers to sometimes invisible barriers to success that many come up against in their careers.

A management consultant called Marilyn Loden coined the phrase almost 40 years ago regarding women rising to senior positions and says it’s still as relevant as ever today. So I’ve taken it a little step further, not just women, but people of colour and bias. that may exist in the workplace and how they overcame this to become leaders in the industry.

I promise not too much swearing, no politics or religion, just a cuppa and whatever takes your fancy.

Voice Over: C-Vision International is a global event and advisory firm. dedicated to convening leading visionaries in an exclusive environment for peer to peer collaboration. Our programs highlight critical business challenges and deliver the best available applied sciences aimed to change the world. Your vision is our mission.

Let us help you build your company’s future today, not tomorrow.

Charles James: Today, I’ve got with me Nelson Soares. Nelson, say hello.

Nelson Soares: Hey there, Charles. Thanks for having me.

Charles James: Nelson is the CEO of C-Vision International, which is a global events company in cyber security. But I’m not the expert. I’ll let Nelson give an introduction and we’ll kick in.

Nelson Soares: Indeed. Thanks, Charles. Yes, C-Vision International. We can go into that a little bit more. I like to call it more of a collaborative opportunity to network and learn. from one another, right? I founded the company in October 2020 during the pandemic and got fantastic business partners two female leaders, fearless ones Migue Tansil, I think I pronounced that correctly, otherwise she’s gonna kill me, and Mina Chan two individuals I’ve known for a very long time, and When you are looking to partner with somebody, it just made sense to actually look for talent, right?

Which again, we can dive deeper in a little bit around that kind of stuff. But besides that, I do a lot of work as well in, for the communities. I am the co chair of ambassadors for Cyversity alongside Devin Bryan, the global CIO for Carnival Corporation Cruises. Also, I hope I got that one right.

Otherwise, Devon is going to kill me. All right. He’s the kind of a corporation, but I think the cruise needs to be aligned there, based on his biography. And I’m also in the board of directors for another non profit called Pocket Security, which is led by the Assistant of Stanford’s education, Lita Mueller.

And the co founder out there is a lady called Julie Cooper. And Pocket Security essentially is there to ensure that other non profits are protected or at least aware of what cyber means.

Charles James: Great job. Yesterday, we were at an event one of your events. And tell me a little bit about that. And just some of the guests that were speaking at the event and doing some fireside chats.

Nelson Soares: So what C-Vision likes to do, right, is to bring in at all different type of levels, right? Just try and understand what’s going on right now in this very dynamic industry. Cyber is not slowing down, albeit that we also do IT, we do marketing, we do anything with it. With the need on it anyways, right? As long as there’s people in the need, we were able to execute on that.

What we had yesterday was what we call our CIO and CISO UK event think tank, and we are just over 55 executives showing up to mind share the challenges, the opportunities, what they seeing around the various topics throughout the agenda. The question was always, how do we bring the dark side in, right?

As they call themselves. Vendors, we like to call them partners, right? It’s all about the partnerships that we can foster with these organizations as well. But more importantly, can we transfer our knowledge to them from what we know, right? We’ve been there before, you and I. And vendors, solution providers seem to have a big appetite to sell.

Obviously, that’s what they do. They have a solution. They want to sell it. Our job at C-Vision is to ask them to put the brakes on just a little second, and before you attempt to make any sale, understand the problem first. Learn about the environment that the CISO or CR that the practitioner is going through.

Because if you can’t actually flip the coin that way, you’re going to start learning a lot more about, am I really in a position to do this sale? right? Should I just really focus about the main piece, which is the relationship? Because if you can manage to do that as a solution provider, not only you’ve gained the respect of the executive, but also the executive network.

Charles James: And I’m proud to be part of that as well. And Through knowing yourself and working with C-Vision I’ve got to understand some of the, the key individuals that you’ve brought along to network and understand some of their challenges, but thank you for that. So we’re going to get into it and rule of thumb, you get 10 questions and with these 10 questions, you can just say whatever you want in regards to how you feel and think about things.

So. Question one. What was your first ever job?

Nelson Soares: I laugh at this one. I got a couple of good jokes. I was 13. So hard to forget. And the parents were struggling. We just moved from Africa and we were in Portugal, Lisbon. And my mom wasn’t so happy out there. She wanted more for her kids. So she decided to move to London.

But that move comes with an expense, obviously, right? And we just didn’t have the money whatsoever. So eventually my mom just says, Hey, listen, we’re going to have a nice little holiday to England. Who wants to come? Five of us said yes. We’re a family of nine. Wow. Yeah. Five of us, the three girls and myself and my other brother actually said yes.

She goes, great. You have to self fund it. I’m a 13 year old kid. And I had to sit down and actually think, what can I do? And eventually my friend said, Hey, I got a position for you out there because that’s what I do during the summer, right? I’m like, what’s that? He says, gardening. I knew nothing about it. I figured, why not?

So that was my first job. I was a gardener at the age of 13.

Charles James: Very good. And when you went to college and you, and you left school or left, yeah, you know, that type of thing. What was your first professional job?

Nelson Soares: When I left college, well, throughout college, I’ve done some tough jobs, right? McDonald’s.

Charles James: We’ve all been there.

Nelson Soares: Yeah, working in that kitchen. Nando’s. Still love Nando’s, right? Zenith Windows door to door selling here in the UK. That was tough, real tough, specific with the weather in the UK, right? So I’ve done a little bit of everything, but by the time I actually graduated from college, I had no clue what I wanted to do.

I think most, majority of college students have the same problem, so I’m not about to actually cry about it, but I have made Some strides to try and go and actually teach those individuals in the same position as me when they graduating or even when they’re going through the process of graduation to start thinking about that because the school is not telling you that no one is actually telling you that the school will take the money and good luck, right?

And then you find yourself with this college degree and you’re like, what the heck am I supposed to do now? Right? In my case, I was in love. Right. My plans was to actually leave the country and I couldn’t because my wife today, Damiel, she still had two years left in the University of Greenwich. So I got a job with the DWP, Department of Working Pensions, Peckham Job Center.

That was where I used to do some of the work and then I would travel quite a bit to the central London. To go and meet the HQ and whatnot. And I was part of what they call the lone parent divisions. There’s a lot of benefit fraud in the uk. Mm-hmm. . So I came to learn, my job was to understand whether that lady was actually single or not claiming the benefits.

A lot of it was just paperwork, but now and again, got really interesting when you had to go and knock on the door.

Charles James: Wow. That’s a tough gig.

Nelson Soares: It wasn’t easy.

Charles James: Tough gig. Okay. So what attracted you to the world of it and, you know, cyber security? In the whole like you said, in, in, in 2020, 2021, you went, do you know what, this is where I’m going.

Nelson Soares: I didn’t, I actually didn’t say that this is where I’m going. That’s not what I had in mind and I was bored as fuck . Okay. The government, I just was bored. It was really tedious work, Charles. And one day I got a phone call and it was a missed dial, right? As any other board employee with nothing else to do, because the government does move that slow and I had finished my project and whatnot, I picked up the phone and next thing you know, I just happened to be the HR director of a different organization called GDS International Group based HQ in Bristol.

And the conversation just led into me. Going to be interviewed Oliver Smart. As you can tell, still names that are in my mind because they’ve become good friends as well, right? He was the CEO at the time. I still believe he’s still with the company and whatnot. Before I knew it, I blinked and I was in Bristol, UK.

Against every wishes of my mother, family. And whatnot. So I just needed something a bit more dynamic. So I moved to Bristol and I was given a very sturdy week, weeks training, and then eventually they gave me like a yellow page book.

Charles James: Oh wow.

1 0 1 direct sales. Start at a A and work your way through to Z.

Nelson Soares: Yes, sir. That’s pretty much what it was. And yeah, at the time, I didn’t know what IT meant to be quite honest. Every time you actually spoke to IT, in fact, if you go back to another 20 year old kid and whatnot, and you ask what IT means, they’re going to say computer, right? They don’t quite understand the language of business and technology.

No, did I. So I figured, okay, this is pretty cool. I hated it because I wasn’t in control. But as time went on, I realized that I was pretty competitive and there were people around me selling, doing really well, and I figured, why not stick at it? And you start learning from that. And I really started to understand the concept of cyber technology and nothing comes easy these days.

So I had to read quite a lot, you know, fake it until you make it. That’s pretty much where I was heading towards.

Charles James: Now, this is around you and the tan that you have, let’s say, you know that first interview when you were being judged and someone was looking at you going “Oh, I didn’t know Nelson was like that”. We all had it. And, you know, does that, does it, does a time come across where you thought, yeah, I remember sitting in front of this, HR or this person going, yeah, I don’t care what you say, mate, you’re not getting the job.

Nelson Soares: It does a few times, but the one that really, I’m not sure they’re going to be too happy to hear it, but

Well, you don’t have to

Charles James: give names, but it’ll be good.

Nelson Soares: Go on Barclays Bank then, go on, might as well just throw it out there. I’m sure they’ve changed since then, but that was one of my first very professional Interviews, and it was quite scary in many different ways. I was too young and I needed a job Pay the bills and whatnot. So I’ve been independent living by myself from a very young age, honestly and I had this group of White males, old white males, literally sitting across me, which by the way, you know, I figured, Oh wow, must be really famous.

I got five of you guys in front of me. For a shitty position, but okay. Just a cashier, register, personal banker, whatever the heck it was at the time I was applying. Who cared, right? I was just applying for jobs, they called me. And I made it that far, and yeah, it was quite intimidating. They, they, they weren’t looking at me.

Right? They were just looking at something else, which they could not comprehend in many different ways, which is there is a colored person in front of me, and no matter what, you’re not about to get a job. Somehow, I made it through the cracks. I was in front of them, and they could not understand what I was doing out there.

So, that was that experience out there. I can elaborate more if you want.

Charles James: No, no. Again. I think I also recognize and, but this is about you, this, this is not about, you know, my, my challenges is about, you know, what you’ve gone through and in time, you know, we align very much the same, which is kind of scary, but I get it.

So you’re in a job, you’re working your ass off and you’re thinking, yeah, I’m doing well and there’s a position that’s going to come up. And it’s a management position. Yeah. And you’re thinking, I should go for that. And that time that co worker less qualified than yourself gets that promotion and you don’t.

What happens next?

Nelson Soares: Good question. Good question. I haven’t actually been in a similar type of position. The jobs that I’ve had since the government were a new I would, if I stuck with it, I would have been facing what you just asked quite frequently. And I realized there and then that, see, they can’t control that environment.

They can’t control what I do with it. And what I’ve decided to do was to walk away, right? There’s only one person that controls that part of your life in that shoe.

Charles James: Correct.

Nelson Soares: So I took it on my own to walk away from the environment. I didn’t like it. Right. But as. As I grew up, as I got older, I started realizing no matter where I did go, there’s always the challenge that I was trying to run away from.

So eventually I decided to face it, to learn about it, to be creative in different ways to not be judged by my skin color, by the country that I was born or where I was raised. Instead, by my own capabilities to get the job done. So I really tried to every other position that I had out there, I really tried to going back to being competitive, right?

That helped me a lot to create a relationship with myself to be the best I can be, right? And typically, the best I could be was better than the best person.

Charles James: I suppose there’s a saying that it’s okay, you know, for people of women, people of color, it’s about doing the job and doing it 10 times harder and better than a colleague. Because you have to prove yourself.

Nelson Soares: Yeah.

Charles James: And like I said, once you break that ceiling, break that barrier and you’ve got, you’re at the top table. And it’s because of your hard work and efforts. But to get there, that’s the struggle.

Nelson Soares: Yeah.

Charles James: Y’know what I mean? And again, I couldn’t sit here and talk about my background, but to take today’s about you and, you know, what relates and, you know, people are listening to this going “ah, yes, I’ve been through that yeah.” and people are nodding and “yeah, yeah, yeah”. So again, it’s, it’s kind of interesting. So I’m going to take a break. We’re going to get a quick live from our sponsors and we’re going to come back.

Voice Over: C Vision International is a global event and advisory firm dedicated to convening leading visionaries in an exclusive environment for peer to peer collaboration.

Our programs highlight critical business challenges and deliver the best available applied sciences aimed to change the world. Your vision is our mission. Let us help you build your company’s future today, not tomorrow.

Charles James: And welcome back to Cyber Glass Ceiling where we have Nelson Soares, who’s the CEO, founder of C-Vision International.

We’re going to carry on with the, the few questions. Next one, as a leader in, in the workplace, in your workplace, have you seen this shift in culture, promoting people like yourself, more women? At the top table, what’s the influence that you bring to when you were employing people?

Nelson Soares: In my company, yeah, we’re looking for talent, right?

And that can come in every way, shape or form in many different ways. And we are a very diverse organization. As I said, both of my business partners are female leaders, right? We’re staring at one right in front of us here Cathy. We got plenty, right? counterpart in Europe as well is another lady, so on and so forth.

And then we got a lot of African Americans. So again, we don’t really differentiate. We just literally looking for talent. And, you know, if it comes black, so be it. If it is female, so be it. If it is disabled, so be it. Right. So that’s what goes on at C-Vision International.

Charles James: Good. Thank you. So you’re holding these events. You flew in from New York on Thursday.

Nelson Soares: Couldn’t even tell you Wednesday,

Charles James: Wednesday. Wow. And you went straight into the, the event and I thought, Oh, Nelson’s here. Hang on. You’re in New York about eight, nine hours ago. And, and you did a full on day and you’re paying for it now, I guess. But Hey, you’re here for the weekend, so you can rest and party.

But one of the questions I got for you is around you speaking to these top leaders in cyber security and These speakers are talking about some of their challenges. Could you elaborate what you’ve learned and what you’ve understood? Whether they be a very large bank or very large consultancies.

What have you learned from listening and speaking with these guys?

Nelson Soares: I’ve learned that this is a sector with plenty of opportunity Growing establishing itself as a leader, if you want to call it security, it wasn’t security 10, 15 years ago, right? Non existent. And today we got great business leaders really working hard to try and make sure that cyber is part of the ROI discussion with the board and whatnot.

The problems are all the same. It’s just a matter of… Is there a bigger company with a bigger budget or not? Is there more politics, bureaucracies, right? Because that controls the speed of innovation that an organization might go through and what not. So, and that was pretty critical to understand as we put the event together, right?

At the end of the day, can you put a Barclays bank with? A mid market organization. The answer is yes, you can. Now, the language might not be the same because of what I just told you previously, right? They’ve got a lot bigger headaches because they’re a bit more attractive. And with attraction comes a lot of need for budgets to do other things as well, right?

Not only to please the customers, but also to protect themselves from the the bad, the bad people out there. So very similar challenges. Controlled by the amount of money they can actually work with. And the bigger the company, the more problems, believe it or not, right? The SMB level organizations actually can get shit done a lot faster, because there’s less politics and bureaucratises.

Charles James: Absolutely.

Nelson Soares: Within the organization.

Charles James: And, you’ll also find project wise, they’ll bring in third parties to those third parties have the relevant certifications. to, to run that project especially in the banking and the regulation it’s getting bigger and heavier and bigger and heavier all the hoops that everyone’s got to jump through.

And I know yesterday ransomware came up as one of the biggest challenges and, you know, companies were paying ransomware.

But since COVID and the war in Ukraine, people are going to hang on a minute. It’s the same bad actors, and, you know, they’re not funding it. But, again, we can run down that rabbit hole another time. So, what practical cyber security advice would you give your family and friends?

Nelson Soares: That’s a good one, right?

Because I got a lot of friends and most friends are all CISOs and whatnot or practitioners, right? My wife is the chief of staff of a cyber startup as well, right? And look the best advice that I can give her Let me start there very quickly because that’s usually the same advice that give you everybody else around us find just find your spot find your voice Right.

Just don’t be scared of finding your voice in what you do and It sounds a bit different. You probably expecting It’s me being a bit more education about the problems of cyber around ransomware and whatnot, but the, the number one challenge that you know, and I got plenty of mentors or even CISOs that I mentor that they speak to me, they rely on me for information and whatnot and female leaders, black leaders that have been challenged with everything else that we’re just discussing here today.

So the best advice that I usually can give them is, look, to do your job, you need to be yourself first, right? Don’t try and be someone else. More important, don’t be scared. Find that voice and push as much as you can because that’s actually respected in the industry. There’s a Rob Duhart. He’s the deputy CISO at Walmart.

African American fella. And I’ve had the pleasure to actually meet him a few times and whatnot. And, he actually said, and I quote him on this one because I actually got it right in front of me. And that’s one of the things that’s actually stuck with me. It’s just not enough to talk about diversity initiatives and encourage good behavior.

We have to make active, intentional efforts, whether through training programs or other means. Find your voice. And that really stuck into my heart and mind at that time because I’ve realized that As individuals, as CISOs, practitioners, anyone within CyberCharles, you can only do your job if you’re being true to yourself.

Charles James: One hundred, one hundred percent. So, here you are founder and leader of a business, and there’s someone Let’s say straight out of school, straight out of college that wants to get into cyber security.

What would your advice be to them?

Nelson Soares: Find help. Okay, there’s a lot of help out there. But if you don’t ask the questions, right, you’re never gonna find the help. And a lot of individuals, minorities, that are trying to get into cyber don’t quite realise that we got Groups like Cyversity, helping minorities.

Charles James: Fantastic.

Nelson Soares: Right we got OBT. I mean, I could go on forever. Okay, this sort of alliances and partnerships that we’re trying to sign up through Cyversity to help these individuals with their path. We got mentors, C suite mentors that are willing to not only sponsor you, but you know, just go through the journey with you.

So the biggest advice out there is you’re not alone. There’s a lot of individuals like myself or you, we are here today, you’re doing this for them. Right? There, there’s some key figures in my life, the likes of Larry Whiteside, Devin Bryan and so on and so forth. Those guys have really woken me up to, we have an opportunity to, to drive change, right?

To, to our group of people. Right? And we’re out there looking to do that, working really hard to get scholarships, trainings, right? The, the actual season for the NFL, Thomas Maldonado is an example, right? He gives over an hour, two hours of his time every week without failure. To go into a nice, lovely podcast, enabling people to come in with a group of senior leaders, right?

Sometimes I wish I could get them all together in my event, right? Just to tell you the quality that actually gets together. But all they do in that particular chit chat is allowing people, younger people, African Americans, women, and other minorities to… to learn about experiences and how to get there really questions that could guide them towards the cyber industry.

So you’re not alone. Just try and find those channels that are really out there willing to help you. Right. And that’s all we really tried to do help. Nothing else.

Charles James: Absolutely. Now Last question for today. What do you do for fun? And where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you see, C-Vision in five years?

So we’ll go for the fun part first. How does Nelson chill out?

Nelson Soares: I’m a boring guy, actually. Believe it or not. Look, I because of the nature of my job. Right. And what we do, I, I’ve seen all the five star restaurant hotels that men could have dreamt with. Right? So for that, I’m very thankful. I’m not saying anything about that.

I like to spend time with my kids’ family. We watch movies. Netflix, we can burn through a series in less than a day. My wife and I just drinking wine. I love cooking. Mm-hmm. , right? Still love traveling. But when I get to a place like Jamaica as an example, people would think. Let’s get active. Let’s do God knows what.

And I’m like, no, not quite. We wake up, we go to the gym, we enjoy a little bit of the sunshine. We sit down, wife will read a book and I’ll just sit there and listen to music. Bob Marley. We have very dynamic jobs. Mm hmm. My fun is to actually neutralize that when I got the time.

Charles James: Wind down.

Nelson Soares: That’s it.

Charles James: And as the Co owner. I keep saying co owner, I do apologize. As the owner, founder the drive behind C-Vision, where do you see the business in five years time? What would you hope to have achieved? And how global do you want to be, as in global?

Nelson Soares: Co owner is actually the right word, right? Like I said there was no hesitation from me to split the company with the business partners that felt would provide the benefits as a whole to the organization. All right. That’s how committed I was anyways. Okay. Next five years. Look, we we’re different in what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re not transactional. We’re looking to foster partnerships, right? We came to take over the markets. We felt the market was boring, was broken.

Charles James: Yeah. I’m not, you know what? to disagree. When we first met, it was like, What? What? What? What? How does he know all these people? We said it yesterday. I said it to you yesterday. He goes, how does this guy know this many people at such a high level?

Yeah, I’m sticking with him. If that makes sense.

Nelson Soares: It’s a grind. Look, you gotta be you gotta be honest.

Charles James: Yeah.

Nelson Soares: Right. People have to trust you. And as I like to say, I’ve got more skeletons to bury than a graveyard itself. Right. But that’s the trust that comes from him. The relationships that you, you make throughout the years in this industry, right?

But the what C-Vision really wants is to, to foster that collaboration, right? I know the CISO or whoever that may be requires the top solutions out there. That’s their job. I know it. I have conversation with them day in, day out. Why not try and go and find those organizations which we believe can actually make that job easier, right?

That’s all it is right in that. Ends. Networking is key, but not letting them down is even more important, right? You get one shot at this and they got to trust that you’re doing the right things. And I think we’ve we’ve, we’ve earned that respect. And that trust from the industry now in where other players are looking at us and thinking, how do we change, right?

To keep up with it. And soon they will. Starting to realize that it’s not just about change, it’s about the willingness to actually say no to a, to a transaction. Hey, I don’t like you. I don’t think your approach is going to benefit our community. Right? Can you walk away from money like that? And we do. And if we don’t like it, we’re just like, if that company is not willing to learn, right?

What you guys… The CISOs are actually asking for, then we walk away from it, right? So, C Vision, in short, we’re gonna take over. I think we already did. People talk about our events in a level that you won’t see it in social media by any other organization. Right. Not to mention any names and whatnot, but you know, all the big players are absolutely right.

But you, we don’t, we don’t force people. We don’t, we don’t even ask the executives, both sponsors, solution providers, or the CIOs and the CISOs to put that stuff on LinkedIn. They do it because they believe it’s their right to expose this. Right. Because the, the, the market was broken and boring and there are some big things coming up in the in the next few months, which you guys are going to be witnesses of so we’re very excited about that.

Charles James: Great. Nelson Soares, co founder of cVision International. Thank you for today.

Nelson Soares: Thanks, Charles. Thanks for having me.


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