/oct 20, 2022

Why Security is Central to Citizen Experience Part 1: Lessons from a Federal Executive

By Torey Vanek

The first part of this series is about why my return to the private sector is still motivated by American citizens. (Part one in a three-part series.) 

Government agencies have critical missions that affect the entire American population. The thing is, their core missions typically aren’t technology; they’re everything from delivering food stamps and stable roads to social security. Veracode’s top mission is technology, and it allows the government agencies to fulfill their critical core missions. That’s why I made the move from the public sector to the private sector by joining the Veracode team. 

How it All Started 

My experience in government, the private sector, product development, and IT security makes me specifically tailored to fight malicious cyberthreats. 

My career began by tracking legislation at Congressional Quarterly (CQ), and I got into product management before it was as prevalent as it is today. I often fell into the marketing and advertising departments and spent plenty of time doing online advertising work. After CQ, I worked at Bloomberg on tax and accounting products. How I explain it to the people I meet at my daughter’s soccer games is: I’m really good at wonky topics—tax, accounting, legislation, regulatory—you name it. 

In 2017, I joined the federal government, first as a Product Development Director at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, later consulting on digital transformation within the General Services Administration (GSA). I worked primarily with defense and intelligence partners, including Kessel Run, an innovative division of the Air Force. I later became a Portfolio Director at Kessel Run and the first software factory within the Department of Defense (DoD). This was a truly unique opportunity that essentially changed the way software was being built and acquisitions were being done. 

How Veracode Entered the Picture 

When I became aware that my experience with application security at Kessel Run aligned with Veracode’s security mission, I joined Veracode in May of 2022 to help federal agencies with their security challenges. For me, the opportunity was intriguing – a combination of returning to the private sector while continuing to work with the government. 

Coming from a background in IT, I was impressed by the sophistication of Veracode’s security platform, and it gave me an idea for how to bridge the gap between public and private sectors. Understanding how to navigate the government is a newer thing for Veracode. It’s nice to bring that skill set to the table to address any challenges that are coming up. 

How I See the Link Between Security and Citizen Experience 

A few years ago, I had a personal experience with cyber risk. Due to my husband’s security clearance, I had my information leaked in one of the OPM data breaches. It’s the sort of thing people remember. I hope that better security tools will improve customer experiences with digital services in government and improve trust all around. 

The biggest priority? Improving overall citizen service, securely and quickly. Let’s work to improve people’s perceptions of working with the government in a timely manner – without compromising security. The important piece here is all about making sure service to the American people is done right. 

Stay tuned over the next week as I share more of my story on how my federal experience prepared me for my role at Veracode. Next, check out part two of the series here!

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By Torey Vanek

Torey Vanek is the Director of Strategic Product Management for Government and Regulatory at Veracode. She helps agencies within the Federal Government, State and Local Government, and European Union to understand and remediate application security challenges in support of their missions. She has led and worked on projects with the United States Marine Corps, the U.S. Tax Court, and the Department of Energy. She has product and technical experience from her work with the Internal Revenue Service, Bloomberg, and her work with the National Cancer Institute through ICF. She graduated from Colorado State University and completed a graduate program in Information Technology, from the University of Virginia. She resides in Fairfax, VA with her husband, 13 year old daughter and goofy German Shepherd.