Welcome to the Varonis Veteran Spotlight! The purpose of this spotlight is to show our gratitude and appreciation for our Varonis Veterans, as well as honor their military service and impact. Sharing their unique and compelling stories will not only help shed light on the important roles these men and women played in their country, but also help us recognize the strong qualities they bring to our teams.
Georgi Georgiev, Manager of Sales Engineering
This month, we spoke to Georgi Georgiev, a Super Soldiers Manager at Varonis and soldier in the US Army. Thank you, Georgi for your service, and sharing your story with us!
Georgi is currently a Sales Engineering Manager in the Federal space, and has just hit his 10-year anniversary with us. He continues to serve in the US Army as part of the Illinois National Guard (IL Army National Guard) and works at Varonis Public Sector until activation.
“If I had to do it all again, I would do it in the exact same way”, Georgi says as he reflects on his 13 years of service in the National Guard. “My military experience had built the structure and mentality for the person I became later in life.”
Whether it’s facing complex situations or unexpected challenges, Georgi’s military experience had equipped him with a ground and pound problem-solving mentality, and the ability to overcome any seemingly impossible odds.
At the age of 17, having just arrived to the states from Bulgaria, Georgi had to adjust to the American culture and spend time improving his English. Every day after school, he passed by the military recruitment office, until one day he decided to actually go inside and sign up! This was a great opportunity to get a paid college education as well. Georgi started DeVry University as a Computer Information Systems major. Thinking that his military occupation would be focused on work with computers and sending data down the gun line (aside from being in the field artillery), he was surprised to be put to work as a Howitzer Cannoneer Crewmember instead. This was just the very beginning of his basic training. After completing 15 weeks of basic and AIT training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he returned to civilian life and went back to school to work on his degree.
In 2005, Georgi was deployed as an infantryman member of 2-130 INF BN out of Fort Steward, Georgia in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “We were kicking in doors during raids, patrolling for hours and days on end.” With this operation, Georgi experienced real dangers and near death moments. “It doesn’t hit you until a few minutes afterwards. It’s a life changing moment where you don’t really think about anyone else but just the people around you. You experience hardships and see buddies perish but at the end of the day, we all knew why we were there and what we were doing”.
Georgi was often faced with situations that relied on quick problem solving, leadership and determination. “In a life or death situation, you don’t have time to think – you react and execute right away”, he adds. In training, he would go to the ranges where he practiced his craft. “The goal was to practice to the point where things become second nature. You don’t think, you just do.” These leadership principles stayed with him, even out into the civilian world.
In 2009, Georgi’s friend, roommate, and mentor, Rick Proctor, had told him about a Professional Services role at a startup company called Varonis. When he landed the job, Georgi wrapped up his military training and took the next plane out to begin his cyber-security journey. After just 9 months, Georgi was the first to pioneer the Federal SE role. Fast forward to present day and we have almost 30 people on a federal team (on the Varonis Public Sector).
“It’s been a long, hard and winding road but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve built such an awesome leadership team of sales professionals with great experience, and lots of SE’s with different backgrounds like the Marines, Air Force and Army – it’s a fantastic environment to work in.”
When asked about his leadership skills, Georgi said a lot of it was influenced by his military background. “I’m the lead-from-the-front type of guy. I wouldn’t ask people to do anything I wouldn’t do”. He applies this same principle to his peers in the military. “You get the job done. There is no quitting. You can think about it but it’s never part of the plan. It helps you to have a Plan A and different contingencies if things go sideways. That’s how I teach and guide SE’s”, he adds. “You need to plan 2-3 steps ahead when you are troubleshooting an issue by yourself or with support on the line. That way, you are not adding an extra few hours or days to hear the next thing. Anticipate. Hope for the best. Plan for the worst. The main thing I tell and guide them is to remember who you are, stay humble and stay hungry. You can be a star performer one year and then struggle the next few months. Don’t get stuck in the past. This is why I like working with my team here at Varonis. They are also hungry to overachieve and it feeds the drive. One person does and then everyone wants to do it.”
Georgi had many profound experiences through his military service, but nothing compares to the people he had met along the way. He had truly created lifelong friendships with folks from different countries, cultures and background. “Every October, I meet up with four guys from my squad who I was deployed with after 10-15 years. We get together every now and then. We are all dispersed, the kids are grown, but we try to reconnect as much as possible.
October 5th is what military folks refer to as our Alive Day. Everyone that has gone through a life changing experience down range like getting ambushed, crashing in a helicopter, getting hit by an IED and so on, knows exactly what I’m talking about. It allows us to not only get a different perspective on life, but to also make third world problems disappear.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, many states have been activating the National Guard units in support of fighting the pandemic. Georgi had received warning orders for activation in the effort to fight the virus. “This may mean working in warehouses, moving equipment and doing whatever is needed to help support the effort. When we get the word, we put our hats on and do our thing. I wouldn’t be able to work for Varonis, but I have a great team that has my back”. With the Covid-19 activation still in limbo, Georgi will be going on order starting this September. The month-long order is not only to fulfill his annual training requirements, but to primarily assist with rebuilding a key program for the state of Illinois. As part of linguist MI BN, Georgi is going to be working with a few of his NCO peers and the state language program OIC to rebuild the language program for the state.
Georgi, thank you for your service!