Passionately Committed to Delivering Excellence
I remember when I was first getting started in my career in tech and how difficult it was for me to lean into who I authentically was. Before I packed up to join the Air Force in Aviano, Italy, I’d never seen anyone who looked like me following a similar path.
The model of a cybersecurity/military professional wasn’t in my immediate psyche. So, in my early-20’s, thousands of miles away from home and smack-dab in the middle of a white-male dominated field, I panicked and started conforming to assimilate. While I no longer do this, at the time, I would cope with the changes happening around me by putting on a performance. Unsuitably, I chose to dim the light that was Lonye.
Frankly, because I didn’t know how to act, I started acting like, “the man.” Being “the man” became my new model of success. The people in my industry who got the most recognition and respect rarely (if at all) looked like me. So, I did my best to emulate the traits and characteristics that I thought would get me to where I always wanted to be. In doing so, I learned a very hard but valuable lesson about conformity and the sickness it truly breeds. Once my act naturally ran out, the facade I had embodied began to vanish, and I actually became better.
The life I lead now is so far removed from the life I knew growing up on the south side of Chicago. Before I was old enough to understand my surroundings, they were already negatively affecting me. I had to learn how to channel my reality of parental addiction and homelessness into a story of the ultimate come up. The way I did it was by imagining greater and consistently giving all that I had within me to deliver excellence for a common purpose.
For me, it was never a question of whether or not I would grow into something special. One of my favorite quotes became, “like a rose that grew from the concrete” because I knew that what I saw wasn’t all there would ever be for me. From the time I could speak, I held onto the belief that I was supposed to be successful, but with little exposure to the world outside of my neighborhood, I had no idea how to make that happen. I knew the (not so) easy ways out, of marrying up or investing in illegal activities, but I was also more determined to build and play a long game of substance and security.
Fast forward to the age of 16, where I was now one of the youngest and most successful salespeople to ever grace Roseland’s South Michigan Avenue (and the only woman to do so) (IYKYK). I was a natural born hustler, which I later leveraged to elevate, educate, and build my mental fortitude in cybersecurity. As a newly enrolled U.S. Air Force Airman, I was lending my skills to the IT Help Desk in Aviano, Italy, as one of only three female personnel on staff. From there, I eventually grew to manage a similar team of dozens of individuals. By the time I left the military, I’d learned that who I came in as had always been more than enough.
Leading Into the Future
Today, I’m a proud veteran, published author, real estate investor, and GovCon/Cybersecurity CEO, leading one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States for 2021 and 2022 (Don’t believe me, Fact check on the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List). I also stand as the longest-running female promoter at Barcode Lounge in the Washington, D.C. area. Where I still go to get my dose of trap music weekly!
As the co-founder of Arlo Solutions (ARLO), a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Minority Small Business, I offer my unique abilities and passion to support and advise C-Suite level professionals in all arenas of cyber security, including the policy, governance, and processes in support of the Risk Management Framework (RMF). For my impact on the industry, in 2019, I was the recipient of InterCon’s Top 50 Tech Visionaries award.
“Looking back now, I’d say my life has closely mimicked a masterclass in how to create your own lane.”
Where countless others said there was simply no space left for me to run, I pooled together my unique knowledge, skills, and abilities to become the picture of success that I’d always imagined. It’s my belief that having access to equitable resources, paired with a strong belief system about what you can accomplish is what allows for the ‘firsts’ of this world to be revealed.
In many cases, the people you encounter won’t make it easy for you to succeed. While they may distrust your feedback, or even your vision,it should never stop you from being who you are. Take it from me — if I can do it, then so can you. Let go of toxic conformity, and lean into the traits and characteristics that only you can provide.
Lonye’s Official Photos