Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Drolet.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Michelle. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As founder of Towerwall, I have to say my proudest moment was when I sold my company and then… I rebought it! I remained active on the board and when I realized the direction the new owners were taking I decided to make a bid and buy it back, three years after selling it.
I was an Army brat. My family was always on the move. Born in Ohio, I lived in 13 different states and attended three different high schools in my junior year alone. I became secretary of my class even though I arrived halfway through the school year. That was in Kansas. The experience made me more of an outgoing, “it’s okay to accept change” kind of person. Then I graduated from Northeastern with a BS degree in criminal justice and political science. I was always intrigued with getting the bad guys.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I started my company in 1999, I needed a CTO to run the technology and services side. At the time, my husband was CIO at a biotech firm. I wrote him an offer letter, kind of tongue in cheek, but I was serious because I knew Larry would make a good addition to our team.
I put the letter on his pillow and didn’t say a word. I was asking him to quit his job, take a pay cut, and be subordinate to his wife. On top of that, I added, “Some days I won’t be able to pay you because we have to make payroll for employees first.” And that actually came to pass, more times than I care to remember. I tapped him on the back and said, “Hey, you’re not getting paid this month.”
That was a struggle on two fronts, both financially at home and in our relationship. Yet somehow we remain married! The other difficult aspect of running a company is employee relations. Helping people to realize that they might not be the right fit and then helping them find a new place to live or work. That’s the hardest part, keeping people too long. It becomes a disservice to both parties. Today we have the right team in place and feel blessed, and balanced.
Towerwall – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Towerwall is a provider of information security services with clients like Middlesex Savings Bank, Becker College, CannaCare, and Smith & Wesson. What sets us apart is that we’re not “one size fits all.” We specialize only in certain parts of InfoSec and call upon our partners who specialize in other areas, such as in forensics.
We offer vulnerability management and penetration testing for networks and applications. We also do architectural reviews. We’re quite good at helping organizations define what their risk tolerance is. We walk them through a security crisis, then together we build security strategies and programs.
I’m proud of founding the annual Information Security Summit hosted by Mass Bay Community College. I’m delighted to have received citations from State Senators Karen Spilka and David Magnani for our community service. Twice we have received a Cyber Citizenship award for community advocacy. We’re also involved with the School-to-Career program, the Women’s Independent Network, Young Women and Minorities in Science and Technology, and Athena, a girl’s mentorship program.
If you had to start over, what would you have done differently?
Would I have done things differently? No, not really. Everything happens for a reason. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Sometimes I took steps forward, sometimes I went backward. Sometimes I took steps sideways. I believe in keeping a positive attitude. Never looking at the negative but seeing the positives in a failure. Because nobody can win all the time. Not even Tom Brady or Chris Sale!