What if someone told you that you could have a role where you intermix all the things you’re passionate about in one? That’s exactly what Corwin Tobias found at Blue Yonder and a big reason he’s so glad he took the leap to move cross-country to take on the role of information security awareness ambassador. Corwin shares his thoughts on leading with empathy, the best advice he’s ever received and the most important trait in a leader: read before you lead.
What brought you to Blue Yonder?
Prior to Blue Yonder, I was at a healthcare organization. I had been really passionate about security awareness and looking for my next step and growth opportunity. As I looked for those opportunities, Blue Yonder had this role and it was perfect for me. But beyond the role, what brought me here was the culture, the people, and the services we offer our customers. All of it together was huge for me. What I loved at my job then and now was that the impact we make lasts and is not just a one-time use thing. We are making a difference in the world.
You have an interesting role as information security awareness ambassador. What is your favorite part of your role?
My role is to engage associates and provide awareness, education and training around cybersecurity topics and threats and equip associates to defend themselves from cyber attacks. I aim to help associates be educated and prepared.
I love my role because the ways someone defends themselves from a cyber threat isn’t just for work but for home too. We’re helping associates anytime they are faced with a cyberattack. I recently created a working from home securely video series where I interview a security team member on devices you are using at home and how you can stay safe, because cybersecurity spans work and home together.
Can you share more about your career journey leading you to Blue Yonder? Does anything surprise you about it?
Growing up I was given a VHS camcorder and my friends and I would make videos. Video production was my path. I started my own video production company even before college and did production work for international and national non-profits. I just assumed I’d run a video production company forever.
After college, I got a job at the healthcare company where I created videos. I had a degree in marketing and was passionate about teaching and training, but didn’t want to commit to being an educator. But I loved educating and felt like I missed an opportunity when I graduated. I was disappointed and thought I took a too-logical path.
Then the opportunity arose to be on a cybersecurity awareness team to create videos on cybersecurity. I went ahead and applied and got on the team. I can tell you I never thought I’d get into cybersecurity and didn’t know much about it. It gave me opportunities far beyond video production that spanned into live training, education and teaching – all of the things I was passionate about but I thought couldn’t be realized because of the degree path I had taken.
I had suddenly found a way to take my video production experience and mix it with education and training. I never thought I’d actually get to mix both areas together in my career. So it was a pleasant surprise to have a role that encompasses everything I am passionate about. I am incredibly fortunate to now do a job that brings together marketing, video production, employee engagement, training, mentoring – in one role.
How do you stay inspired?
I love to help people, but conversely can help TOO much. I love looking at a problem and figuring out a solution. I love seeing the impact I can make and the growth in others as a result. I’ve also been passionate about interns and I’ve run internships. I enjoy career development and professional development and helping others stretch themselves.
What’s the best risk you’ve taken and why?
The best risk I took was moving across the country to come to Blue Yonder. My wife and I moved from Michigan to Scottsdale. We had just bought a house in Michigan, and thought we’d be there awhile. The coolest thing was that we sold our house to our best friends which made it so special. And my brother and sister-in-law decided to move with us and we all caravanned out to Scottsdale and live together. It was so worth it – Blue Yonder really supported us during our move and big life changes.
I also consider it a risk to have jumped into the unknown in my career in cybersecurity awareness. I was comfortable in video production but didn’t know much about cybersecurity. But the company I was at gave me a shot and a chance to intermix my passions together.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It is easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action. Sometimes we feel motivation differently. When I don’t feel motivated, if I wait until I am motivated, it won’t necessarily happen as effectively. In those moments, I remind myself of this quote. If you act your way into it, it comes down to having a growth mindset and remembering where you can see impact.
What do diversity and inclusion mean to you?
I am really passionate about this topic. It is all about breaking down barriers and stepping inside someone’s experiences and vice versa.
As an example, when I was in high school, I loved basketball but was really short. In 6th grade, my doctor thought I’d grow to be 6’5” based on my growth spurt that year. Ironically, I didn’t grow any taller from then onward.
When I tried out for the basketball team in high school, I didn’t make it. My mom suggested volunteering with the Special Olympics basketball team. I signed up and it was life-changing. I spent the next 10 years coaching Special Olympics basketball. That was pivotal for me, as it broke down barriers around special needs. I coached a unified sports team which meant it was mixed between kids and adults aged 9-27. Everyone had such potential no matter what. It opened my eyes to an unconscious bias I had before coaching special needs’ basketball, that all special needs persons were heavily impaired. But that’s not true at all.
Can you share a time where you recognized how important empathy is regarding others’ perspectives?
One of the challenges for any cybersecurity department is that we are often seen as a difficult department to work with given all the risks and threats we have to manage. We are often seen as the department that stops everything. One of the challenges that can happen is that the cybersecurity team can choose to say no before they truly listen and understand – and vice versa. Both sides need to listen and understand before taking action. Understanding the perception of cybersecurity is a huge part of my role.
What traits make a good leader?
Read before you lead. Leaders need to interpret the landscape before making a decision. This is also heavily related to empathy. You can’t be a good leader if you don’t understand others. And conversely, sometimes leaders read before they lead but only from their perspective and not taking in others’ perspectives.
It’s also so important to highlight others’ work and give credit where it is due. It motivates and encourages others as it takes a team to get things accomplished.
What’s one fun (or surprising) fact about you?
I got my first degree black belt at the age of 13. I even sat on a board to test others to receive their black belts.