Sophos Community: Staff Spotlight - Barbara Hudson

In our staff spotlights, we get up close and personal with our amazing Sophos team members. 

Up next is Barbara Hudson, Director for Global Product Marketing - Network Security Group. 

Let's Talk Career 

1. Can you tell us about your role at Sophos? 
As a Director in the Global Product Marketing team under the Network Security Group, I’m primarily responsible for all things related to our hardware products, which include firewalls, switches, access points, and SD-RED.  

I work together with the rest of the Global Product Marketing team, which is responsible for all the content you see on our product web pages, in datasheets and brochures, in blog posts, presentations, and much more. 

 2. How did you get to the role you're in now? 
My IT journey started in 1997 with Fujitsu/Fujitsu Siemens and tablet PCs (known as Pen Computers back then). I spent 12 happy years working there, from Office Manager to Sales and Partner management for Austria and Switzerland, to Business Development, and eventually to Product Marketing.  

After that, I had a short stint in marketing communications for a cloud-based telco services organization. I left them to join the Sophos product marketing team for mobile and encryption in 2012. I switched to the network group in 2013, and although I was a network newbie back then, it soon became clear that my hardware background was a great benefit for the role I still do today (albeit now for many more products). 

3. What inspired you to get into IT and security? 
I majored in German Literature at university, so I don’t have the typical background you’d expect for a tech or security-related role. I could just as easily have ended up in publishing or fashion when I started working. So, I think this was all purely by chance. 

When I moved to Germany after university in 1994, my first role was an administrative position doing order processing, purchasing, payroll accounting, and translations, all completely unrelated to IT. It soon became clear that I’m a quick learner, have a talent for project management, and am pretty good at negotiating good pricing and getting people to pay their bills on time. Those are useful and very transferable skills for any industry. I also like gadgets and taking things apart, so that’s a good start for an IT role. 

4. What do you enjoy most about your role? 
There are many things I enjoy about my role: 

  • My role is so varied and so flexible.  
  • I enjoy working closely with product management and see myself as a translator between product management and sales/channel (and not only because I’m bilingual - German and English).
  • One of my key strengths is putting something complex into words that are more accessible, even for a less technical audience.  
  • I like that my role requires a certain amount of creativity and a way with words that a purely tech-focused person may not always have.  
  • I love talking to our partners and customers, as those conversations inspire the assets I create.  
  • Lastly, I also love to know that I’ve helped someone solve a problem, so you may occasionally see me respond to questions on the Sophos Community. 

5. What's something you've done during your time in the organization that you're proud of? 
Before I took over my current role, there was no hardware product marketing at Sophos. I remember that I suggested talking about hardware during an event, but it didn’t seem like a priority at the time. The original SG Series was the turning point in that respect, and we haven’t looked back since. 

I’m also proud of the global promos program that I lead for our XGS products and the impact it made on our business overall. A promo isn’t just about giving away a firewall. When a customer saves money on their appliance, it often allows them to renew their endpoint, add an HA appliance, or buy an additional product - so promos are a win-win-win for us, our partners, and our customers. 

6. Describe a typical day in your Sophos life. 
Throughout the day, I answer queries from sales and spend quite a bit of my time writing either blog posts or other communication. Because I’m working on hardware, I tend to be involved in planning meetings much earlier than many of my colleagues who work on software or services. Most days, there will be cross-functional meetings of some kind to discuss ongoing projects.  

Suppose I have an upcoming launch, like with Wi-Fi 6. In that case, I spend time on project management, reviewing the assets that need to be created or adapted, looking at how we adapt our messaging based upon any feature or licensing changes, and updating any information on our intranet.  

The same tasks are required when we have significant lifecycle changes, like currently with Sophos UTM. There are always requests for slides on something, and so there’s rarely a day when I don’t use PowerPoint.  

From 3 p.m. onwards, my work calendar gets really busy, as that’s when many US colleagues start coming online, so most recurring meetings happen late in the day. In addition to that, I may brief analysts, create content for price lists, review content others have created, present webinars, and many more things. 

7. What's the best advice you can give to someone who has just started their career? 
Be flexible and don’t let yourself be (mis)guided by preconceived ideas about what a particular role entails, what kind of university degree you need to have to do it, or what kind of personality you need to have to do it.  

A willingness to learn is the single biggest asset you can bring to any role. 

8. What would you do (for a career) if you weren't doing this? 
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, more specifically a poet. I know you could say that I do write for a living, but these aren’t quite the kind of texts I had in mind. 

Role in the Sophos Community 

9. What's a fun fact about you that you could share with the Community? 
I see myself as having worked for Sophos for 11 years, but officially I’ve worked for Utimaco, then Sophos, then Astaro, then Sophos, and now Sophos Technology GmbH. 

10. Have you posted any Recommended Read guides on the Community? 
Surprisingly, as product marketing, I have posted a couple for Wireless in the past, but nothing more recently. I’m sure I’ll create more in the future. 

Who is Barbara outside of Work?

11. What are your hobbies outside of work? 
I love gardening and just created a bed with English roses (they grow well in Bavaria), I’m a binge-watcher of various series (mostly thrillers, crime dramas or comedy), I’m really into interior design and the mid-century modern era (unfortunately, my couch is too big and my living room too small to make room for an Eames lounge chair), I used to paint, sew, and write, but with my limited free time I have to make do with gallery visits these days. I like taking walks in the countryside, travel, photography, cooking, love being on the water (not in it), so love boat trips…., and I can burn time with computer games, but nothing too complex as I don’t have the patience. 

12. What’s something you’re planning on doing in the next year that you’ve never done? 
See the northern lights. I still need to work out exactly when, where, and how outdoorsy it’s going to be, but that’s definitely on my short-term bucket list. 

13. What's one thing you're really good at? 
Negotiating and communication. I should probably work in purchasing or sales. I’m also not bad at cooking and make a mean goat’s cheese, chorizo, and asparagus risotto. 

14. If you could learn how to do anything, what would it be? 
I would love to make my own clothes. I can sew and have made things before, but it would be great to properly learn that skill. 

15. Tell us about where you live (and your journey getting there - if applicable). 
I grew up in a small farm not far from York in the north of the UK. After university, I moved to a place south of Munich, Germany, which was almost 29 years ago. 

The town where I live now is pretty, with colorful-painted houses around a market square, with cafés, and great Italian ice cream. 

16. What's your favorite thing about where you live? 
My hometown is surrounded by an area with lots of beautiful lakes and a gorgeous view of the Alps. I can drive to Austria in an hour, Switzerland in two hours, and northern Italy in three hours. 

17. Tell us something that might surprise us about you. 
I once negotiated a great price on an agricultural machine called a square baler, with a dealership in lower Bavaria on behalf of my brother (that’s a story for another day…). 

18. Any favorite line from a movie? 
“To be born, or at any rate bred, in a handbag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.”  - Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde  

There are so many great quotes from that film/book. 

19. If you had a superpower, what would it be? 
Teleportation: it would make visiting my family in the UK so much easier and would mean that I don’t ever have to go through an airport again.