Rachelle Felix-Blackmon recently got in front of the camera – not an uncommon occurrence for her these days – to show off the clothes she wore to work that day.
Featuring boots, slacks and a cardigan draped over a T-shirt, the ensemble was described by Felix-Blackmon as "keeping things simple but still mature."
Felix-Blackmon moonlights as a fashion and lifestyle vlogger with a growing YouTube and Instagram presence. By day, she is Worldwide Director of Global Client Management Services at Trustwave, where she is tasked with helping ensure enterprise customers around the world are pleased with their experience running Trustwave Managed Security Services.
What do the latest shoe styles, shopping tips, and Zumba moves – three common themes of her videos – have to do with managed firewalls, hardware support, and threat advisories? Not a lot in theory. But if you peel back the layers, you'll find all require the ability to speak to people in a candid, empathetic and disarming way.
"When you're on YouTube, it's just you and the camera," she said. "You're the authority because you're the only person in the room. But it's not that dissimilar when you're talking to a CEO, CIO or CISO. You still need to be relaxed and relatable. They've come to me for an answer, and I tell them something I know."
Nicknamed Rocky – "I grew up with brothers, so my first inclination was to fight if I couldn't get things my way. My dukes went up right away." – Felix-Blackmon has been at Trustwave since 2007, beginning as a consulting operations coordinator and delivery assurance leader, both more compliance-focused roles. But as Trustwave's business shifted toward cybersecurity and managed security services, Felix-Blackmon's inherent people skills translated perfectly.
"Our focus at first was to get a footprint in the (managed security services) marketplace," she recalled. "We are Trustwave. We do MSS, and we do it pretty darn well. We're actually excellent at this. So we went from trying to convince the world that we belong to maturing past that. Now we're really customer focused."
…While keeping things simple, but still mature, one might say.
In her worldwide director role, Felix-Blackmon has regular contact with CISOs, from advisory sessions and lunch-and-learns to serving as the final point of contact if the proverbial fire needs to be extinguished. In fact, our interview got briefly interrupted by one such situation regarding a customer escalation which was critical to securing their renewal business. In a matter of minutes, Rachelle was able to assess the situation, devise a comprehensive remediation plan, and activate a team of cross-functional resources to solve the customer's issues to save the account. In less than an hour, she saved a major account and turned right back around and shifted her focus back on the interview.
"The fire's still burning, but at least we were able to move it away from the explosives," she jokingly said later.
When it comes to her vlogging, which Felix-Blackmon kicked off about a year ago after becoming fascinated watching influencer videos on YouTube, she considers it a platform to express herself – but also a way for her followers to benefit from her tips and insights and even form kinships with each other.
Going from talking about security to chatting about shoes may seem like a leap, but Felix-Blackmon is used to diversity. She's had a varied background her entire professional life, which has seen her shift from biologist – "I was terrified by the sight of blood" – to real estate agent – which was spoiled by the housing crisis.
Despite taking a while to find her dream job, each previous role taught her qualities that came in handy once she did at Trustwave. Now she takes pride in leading a global team who all share the same mission and vision of driving success. "Nothing inspires us all more than doing the RIGHT THING for our clients and the business, while having fun at the same time," she added. "Humans drive the security business. Sharing our professional experience, personalities, skills and vulnerabilities are all a part of the delicate balance required for driving success."
"You have to be a duck on water," she said. "You have to always remain calm, so you can keep the client calm.