One of our "Power 30 Solution Providers"
Biography and Background:
Michelle Drolet is a seasoned security expert with 27 years of experience providing organizations with IT security technology services. Prior to founding Towerwall (formerly Conqwest) in 1999, she was brought in to run CDG Technologies, growing the IT consulting business from two to 17 employees over a 3-year period. She and her then partner sold it to a public company and she remained onboard. Discouraged by the direction the parent company was taking, she decided to buy back her company. She re-launched the Framingham-based company as Towerwall. Her clients include AMG, Middlesex Savings Bank, Becker College, CannaCare, Allegro MicroSystems and Smith & Wesson, local SMBs and law firms. Towerwall has reseller partnerships with Sophos, Varonis, AlienVault, Websense, Snoopwall, Qualys, PhishMe and many other nationally-recognized security vendors. Michelle is the founder of the annual "Information Security Summit" hosted by Mass Bay Community College, now in its fifth year. She runs a monthly blog, "InfoSec at your Service" for Network World and regularly contributes to Worcester Business Journal.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
In 2016 we added resources to our team by bringing onboard a business development executive assigned to work directly with our channel partners to build out our marketing strategies with our top three vendor partners, AlienVault, Sophos, and Varonis. We organized social events and invited prospects to attend our third annual Info Security Summit. This helped to generate leads and new business by a factor of ten. We were also able to increase sales for our partners.
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
We want to continue building on the momentum we got rolling in 2016 by evaluating another potential vendor to add to our "Top 3" partner group, most likely a SaaS solution vendor that looks promising enough to help increase revenue for all parties.
What honors, awards or commendations have you won over the past year?
In November 2016, Cyber Defense Magazine named Towerwall a "Cyber Security Leader for 2016." Towerwall was among the top 20 companies to receive the recognition for exceptional information security (InfoSec) products and services. In October 2016, Michelle Drolet was voted among six other local business leaders as "2016 Outstanding Women in Business" by the Worcester Business Journal. "The winners were selected on their career achievements, ability to transcend both male- and female-dominated professions, their contributions to the Central Massachusetts community, and their mentorship of young professionals in the region," the Journal reported.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
Although much cannot be proven about her, I admire Martha Jane Canary (1852-1903) better known as "Calamity Jane". She was known for her association with Wild Bill Hickok. She was a cowgirl and appeared on stage with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and at the Pan-American 1901 Exposition. She was a daredevil and dressed like a man. I like her for her fierce independence, for showing compassion to people in need, for showing society at that time that a woman could do just as good of a job as any man; for being herself and a real frontiersperson.
What advice would you give to young women who want to begin careers in technology?
There are a million open positions in InfoSecurity alone. I would suggest finding internships at the many cyber security vendors, and shadowing their mentors for direct hands-on experience. I would recommend free security certification training via Cybrary.com, which offers SANS-like training for free. Also, I would stress how important it is to safeguard your reputation; that you only have one reputation. My message to young women is: work hard, work smart, and be good to yourself. Nothing comes from nothing. You make your own destiny. Don't look for handouts.
If you could be any movie character for one day in real life, who would you be and why?
I'd have to say Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She has a sense of herself. She's very idealistic but not too naive. She's unafraid to take risks, which makes her courageous, and she's honest with herself, which is another form of self-confidence and integrity. Most of all, she's willing to look beyond the superficial and listen to her heart.
If you could travel to a city you've never been to before, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
Fira is on my travel bucket list. The largest town on the Greek isle of Santorini, considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It's basically built on a volcano, with buildings perched on the edge of its caldera. Famous for its blue waters, wines and cuisine. Temperate climate all year round. Old world charm at its best, yet secluded from urbanization, unlike any other place. Tourism is its chief economy, so the pampering there must be great!
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