Management

The Important Reason This Cybersecurity Leader Doesn’t Micromanage His Team

Kenny Mazige, a cybersecurity manager at Liberty Mutual
Kenny Mazige, a cybersecurity manager at Liberty Mutual Insurance.
| Courtesy of Liberty Mutual Insurance

Car salesman, network engineer, actor—Kenny Mazige had a variety of jobs before finally finding something that he truly enjoyed: working in information technology (IT). After several IT roles at different companies, today he is a cybersecurity manager at Liberty Mutual Insurance—a position he earned by working his way up from the IT help desk.

“I struggled to find what I wanted to do as a career,” he says. “I think many people, regardless of experience and age, can relate with this feeling. We can change and pivot as we get to know ourselves. Even in my role today, I am driven to explore what could come next, but also flexible enough to realize that it could be something I never thought possible.”

Here, Mazige shares how being an immigrant has shaped his work ethic, why he leads his team with compassion, and how—with the help of Liberty Mutual—he is making a difference in his community.

What initially attracted you to apply for a position at Liberty Mutual, and how did you know it would be a good fit?

I was first hired into a contract position at the IT help desk, a role I had held at other companies. I didn’t know much about Liberty Mutual at the time, but I was looking for a workplace that offered stability and the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Liberty Mutual was different from previous employers. There was a level of caring I hadn’t experienced before. This was immediately demonstrated through the new hire learning program, which provided a solid technical foundation that set me up for success in my role.

You’ve been at the company for more than 12 years. Tell us about your trajectory and what has helped you find success.

As an immigrant, I saw the sacrifices my family made to provide me with a better life, and I owe it to myself, and them, to be the best version of myself that I can be. I push myself to explore my boundaries and am constantly looking for opportunities to grow my skill sets. This has had a twofold effect.

First, it developed into a work ethic that led to a leadership role by exposing me to skills and opportunities that have helped me grow. Although I started at the help desk, I’ve been a business analyst, a senior IT project coordinator, a scrum master on multiple teams, and most recently, a cybersecurity manager.

It has also allowed me to grow my network with leaders across the company. I have learned more from people within the company than from any class I have taken. Networking and relationship building has been crucial in helping me not only gain exposure to new roles, but also find support through advocacy and sponsorship.

You recently took on a management position. What type of leader are you?

My role is to cultivate an environment that gives employees room to not only deliver on solutions tied to their roles, but also to explore tools, technology, and knowledge beyond that. Just as I have had numerous managers support and encourage me, I want to be part of that experience for others—especially those who look to me to lead them.

I also want to be known as a leader who leads with empathy and compassion. I am here to support my team by continuing to foster and improve the collaborative environment we have. I need to elicit ideas from my team members and make sure all voices are heard. I also value a growth mindset and encourage my team to pursue opportunities to grow professionally and personally, as well as to find happiness at work. Yes, happiness. Sometimes, this means I stay out of the team’s way so that they can problem solve and implement solutions without hindrance.

Why is it important to make members of your team feel empowered? How does it impact not only the team, but the company as a whole?

Many of the best ideas and solutions come through collaboration and the pooling of minds. By empowering my team to own their environment, I am enabling them to bring their ideas to the table and share them confidently. When this is replicated across multiple teams and organizations, you end up with a company that has employees who are deeply engaged, know exactly how they are contributing to the strategic successes, and can rightfully take pride in those accomplishments.

What is your biggest accomplishment since joining the company? Describe the project, how it succeeded, and why it was meaningful to you.

As part of my diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) journey, I have been exploring ways to make an impact in my local community. My wife works for a nonprofit called Hope on Haven Hill that helps mothers recover from substance abuse disorder. Learning more about the challenges these women face upon completing the program, I began to ask myself “what can I do to help”? I came to realize that finding employment is a crucial part of recovery. Sadly, for many, this isn’t possible because often people who suffer from substance abuse disorder are stigmatized. It was clear that as one person, there was little I could do. But I work for Liberty Mutual! And at Liberty Mutual, I’m surrounded by people who are eager to live our values and help “make things better” for others.

I teamed up with the community investments committee in Dover, NH, with a goal of helping some of the women upskill by taking certified courses through the local adult learning center. We also began to explore options for employment at Liberty Mutual. A group within the company was eager to support our quest for equity and I was very happy to see one of the women from Hope on Haven Hill start her career here. 

In a twist of fate, her first day was the same one I began my journey as a manager. Of those two milestones, hers is my biggest accomplishment because I helped impact and change a life. She’s also a mother, so that impact could potentially change the outcome for generations. None of this would have been possible without Liberty Mutual empowering me to reach out beyond my job description and supporting me in living our values.

What is your favorite part about the company culture?

One of Liberty Mutual’s core values is putting people first. Throughout the pandemic, the company ensured that employees had what they needed to be successful, both personally and professionally. We were given extra resources such as time off and mental health support so we could prioritize the health of our families and ourselves. 

We are also empowered to really make a difference where we can. For example, Liberty Torchbearers—our employee serving and giving program—enables us to have a significant impact within our communities in supporting causes we deem important. This is one of the reasons I believe Liberty Mutual is the best company I have worked for.

What advice do you have for those pursuing a career in tech? What skills does it take to succeed?

Always be ready for change. I know it sounds cliché, but in the tech world, the only constant is change. You must have a growth mindset, and be willing to learn new technology and constantly re-evaluate how you approach problem solving. You also need to be a team player, ready to learn from and share knowledge with others. Having an individualistic mentality does not fit into the agile world, and you’ll be successful together or struggle as a team.

What is the best career advice you've received and why?

The best career advice I have received was around building my brand. One of my senior leaders asked me, “What does Kenny want to be known for?” It took some time to truly understand what this meant without tying it to a job title. I had to find my strengths and grow them. By really working on my brand—which took years of discovery and implementation—I was able to bring my authentic self to work and no longer expend energy trying to conform to others. And by aligning to my core values, it became easier for others to recognize those in me and create opportunities to thrive.

Updated 9/7/2022