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Inside Tanium: How a U.S. Service Member Combines Missions and Commemorates November 11th

On Veterans and Remembrance Day, we recognize present and former military service members and feature Cat Kearns, a U.S. Reservist in the U.K. serving two meaningful missions

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Tanium recognizes and thanks all former and active military personnel this Veterans and Remembrance Day. Within the United States and Commonwealth countries, November 11th offers us a day to reflect and give thanks — Veterans Day honors all American veterans and Remembrance Day honors those who have died in the line of duty.

As a global company, Tanium employs military service members around the world. Each team member makes Tanium’s family better and amplifies our core values: winning as a team, doing the right thing, and being unstoppable.

To share on this holiday, we spoke with our very own Cat Kearns. A former Active-Duty Air Force officer who now serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, she specializes in cyber threat analysis and technical training. She walks us through her military service, her journey to Tanium, and how this day honors veterans in both countries she now calls home.

Tanium's Cat Kearns supporting a Disaster Recovery exercise in 2017. Cat is currently a Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves

Cat Kearns supporting a Disaster Recovery exercise in 2017. Cat is currently a Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves

Tell us about your background and why you joined the military.

Cat Kearns: I joined the military for the same reason a lot of people do: you want to be part of this amazing group of people who really care about something greater than themselves. I began the reserve officer training corps while attending university, and that gave me a job right out of school. At first, I thought, well, it’s just a four-year commitment…let’s try it out and see how I feel. And then I loved it — I fell in love with my job.

I was fortunate enough to be selected to be an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, which was a hand-in-glove fit because I’m a nerd. It meant that my job could be to be a nerd, and I really enjoyed it. After six years, I transitioned to the National Guard and, more recently, the U.S. Reserves. I haven’t had to give up my military career and can continue working with Tanium, which is great.

How did you evolve your military service into your current role at Tanium?

Cat Kearns: My service activities ranged from advising aircrew on weapons threats to supporting major cyber initiatives for the Air Force. And that career path is really what eventually led me to Tanium. I had the opportunity to attend a few cyber conferences, and that was where I was introduced to the world where Tanium exists. And I still remember being at a SANS conference and sitting next to Dylan DeAnda, Tanium’s VP of Partner Technical Solutions Engineering. The rest is history!

How has your military experience helped you in the work that you do?

Cat Kearns: I do think that the skills that I learned from military service helped me quickly gain the adaptive skills that I really needed at Tanium. My experience has been extremely translatable. As an officer, my role in the military is quite similar to being a leader and a manager here at Tanium. For example, being able to build teams, which is a skill I’ve been able to lean into as I’ve helped lead and build out international teams for our Enterprise Services Organization in EMEA.

It’s offered me the opportunity to be a hiring manager and to construct a team that was not only completely new, but also from all over the world. This team has representatives from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and even Australia that we manage. It’s an eye-opening experience, especially as an American, to be able to collaborate with people from all over the world and to see that teamwork. The team functions and collaborates extraordinarily well, and it reminds me of the best aspects of the military. When you get a high-functioning team, you know and feel it, and it’s a privilege to be able to lead a team like that.

Tanium employs veterans worldwide. What does Tanium do to support its veteran community?

Cat Kearns: Tanium’s founders, David and Orion Hindawi are extremely supportive of military service. I remember during my interview with David, he was very passionate about the reasons we hire military members. Often, military members come into the civilian workforce with this drive to duplicate what makes things successful in a military unit, which usually has to do with an extreme focus on the mission. With Tanium, I was lucky to find a civilian company that embraces a mission focus.

Besides the cultural fit, there are also great benefits that support our continued service in the military. Whenever I need to take a few days to go sort things for my unit, or, conversely, take a longer period for actual military leave, I’m supported by my management and our benefits policies. It’s truly been great.

You recently received a Veterans Coin from our founders as a token of appreciation for your service. What does that mean to you?

Cat Kearns: I loved it. It showed an understanding of the military culture, including one of the cool traditions that we have. In the Air Force, there’s a tradition called the challenge coin. It’s a coin you carry at all times to remind you of your role and fundamental duty no matter where you are or what clothes you are wearing. And when you are out with your unit, anyone can take out the challenge coin, and you’re supposed to take yours out as well. This traditionally happens for better or for worse in drinking establishments. If you don’t have your coin, then you must buy a round of drinks for everyone else who is a member of your unit or service. It’s a cheeky reminder that we are here to perform a mission, and that’s true regardless of whether you’re in uniform or not. The purpose is that we must always remember who we are and the cause that we serve.

As an Air Force Reservist and now U.K. resident, how will you commemorate November 11th?

Cat Kearns: As a member of the U.S. Reserves in the U.K., I work with and have personal connections with members of the British military. Remembrance Day is very important here; it’s almost a full weekend of commemoration, not just a single day.” All over the country, it’s traditional to observe two minutes of silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month, which is like Memorial Day in the U.S. It commemorates those who died in service during World War I.

My favorite tradition here is the growing and symbolism of red poppies. For those who don’t know, the red poppy calls to an image from after the end of World War I, when from the ruins of the destruction emerged new growth in the form of red poppies. It’s now a symbol of hope and of renewal and reawakening. No matter how many years have passed since World War I, and regardless of whether we’re in an armed conflict, the poppy’s symbolism endures. It’s a message for those who struggle even now: from even the worst darkness springs renewal and hope.

I do want to say that I’m incredibly grateful for all the service members and Tanium colleagues that share this meaningful work with me. We all really care about our missions and it’s something I appreciate every day.

“Inside Tanium” is part of a series that highlights the people and culture of Tanium. To learn more about Tanium and explore our range of career opportunities, visit our Tanium Careers page.

Tanium Staff

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