Elastic’s Lisa Jones-Huff reveals how she thrives in a startup atmosphere


Meet Lisa Jones-Huff, the senior director of global security specialists at Elastic and a startup enthusiast. From her first startup experience in 2003 to now leading a growing team of security experts, Lisa thrives on being self-motivated, innovative, and collaborative.

“I prefer not to come into an environment where you're farming the land after someone else has done the work. Part of the energy of a startup is that you get an opportunity to build something. You have an opportunity to see it grow and create processes that have never been in place,” Lisa says. “The thing that gives me energy is creating.”

We caught up with Lisa to hear more about how she thrives in a startup atmosphere, including her top tips for how you can do the same.

Dipping her toes in the startup world

Lisa was hooked on the agile nature of fast-growing companies from the jump.

“My first startup experience from a cybersecurity perspective was with a company called ArcSight many, many years ago. And it just felt natural,” she says. “We all felt like we were in it together. You know, we were rowing in the same direction. I felt like the work I was doing would have a direct impact on the business.”

Lisa continued to develop her skill set across several organizations before leading the NA Pre-Sales Engineering team at a hot cybersecurity startup.

“It was small, and I was not planning on leaving. A recruiter from Elastic reached out to me a number of times, and each time I said, ‘Nope, nope, nope,’” Lisa laughs.

The script flipped when Lisa learned who her direct manager would be: a powerful female leader. She loved the idea of growing under a relatable role model in the cybersecurity realm.

Lisa also noticed that the culture at Elastic was “night and day” in comparison to previous workplaces. “At startups, people are often running hard and not necessarily thinking about the culture aspect. I’d never seen an organization that’s so sales-driven but also gives people time off to take care of their family.”

Innovating at Elastic

Lisa now leads a team that directly supports Elastic Security solutions, which has been part of the Elastic portfolio for about four years — meaning, the startup energy she loves is still ever-present in their work despite Elastic being a public company.

“You can see that in how nimble we are and how quickly we release new versions of the product. We listen to our customers and we react and respond.”

She also appreciates the runway her team is provided to be creative and innovative. “When you work at a bigger organization, the structure’s already there. It’s in place and things are more rigid. But when you work at a company like Elastic with a startup mindset, you get to innovate with the resources you’re given,” Lisa says. “That’s what gives me energy every day.”

4 strategies for thriving in a startup atmosphere

With a toolbox of experiences under her belt, Lisa leaves us with her top four strategies for thriving in a startup atmosphere:

  1. Identify where there might be a problem, and innovate solutions. “A good example of that is when I came on board to support the security solution. There weren’t any processes around engaging with a customer in a consultative manner, from doing the initial product demonstration to a proof of concept. So in my early stages, I spent the time building out those processes,” Lisa explains. “They were all things that the business wasn’t doing before, but I saw an opportunity.”

  2. Fail fast. “Don’t be afraid to fake it until you make it, because you’re not going to know everything. Continue educating yourself and always be a learner through the trials and errors. That is so important,” Lisa says.

  3. Have swagger. “That’s what I like to call it,” Lisa smiles. “When you walk in a room, especially when you’re engaging with a customer, walk in with confidence. Even if you don’t know everything, showing confidence makes a big difference.”

  4. Embrace a go-getter mindset. “The startup atmosphere isn’t for the faint of heart. You can be spinning multiple plates at any given time,” Lisa explains. “So, it’s important to be cognizant and understanding of the mindset that’s needed and required to thrive in a startup.”

Lisa also mentions how, when she joined Elastic in 2020, they set aside a budget specifically for her team’s professional development, including industry-specific training to support the expansion of Elastic’s new security solution.

“I’m very grateful for that because a lot of the time, you’re stuck having to support your own development. When the business is willing to make that investment, it’s even better,” Lisa says. “So, my last piece of advice would definitely be this: it helps to find a company that helps you thrive in a start-up environment.”

Interested in joining a fast-paced start-up with a people-first company culture? Elastic is hiring! Explore the career opportunities here.

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