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Winning an iSANZ Award and what awards mean to SafeStack

A couple of Thursdays ago, the SafeStack team spent the night celebrating. It was a strange night, really.

Six months earlier, we’d entered the iSANZ Awards, pitching ourselves as the Best Security Company of the Year and SafeStack Academy as the Best New Zealand Security Service or Product. That feels like a lifetime ago. The odd thing about awards is that once you do the hard work of submitting your entries, it’s easy to forget all about them.

Rituals and rewards

For SafeStack, awards ceremonies aren’t about the award themselves. I remember going to clients’ offices as a consultant and seeing the walls and shelves display trophies and plaques that celebrated companies as fast-growing or having the best culture. I remember feeling a pang of jealousy.

Now that I run a company of my own, I see awards in a different way.

Until now, SafeStack has never won an award. We’ve entered, we’ve been nominated, and we’ve been finalists before, but we’ve never won. Because of this history, we’ve created rituals around award ceremonies.

Before the winners of an award are announced, we thank the other finalists and we send good wishes to them out into the world. Not because it’s the expected thing to do, but because we genuinely respect the effort those people are making every day to be in that spot. We truly wish them the best of luck.

We also share the details of our entry with everyone on our team.

Sharing the story, not just the ending

If you’ve ever entered an award before, you know the entry process can be lengthy. There’s normally a lot to write about: from your financials, to your culture, to your strategy.

Sharing those documents with our team is a way to refresh our memories about how much we’ve achieved up to this point and how we should be proud and celebrate these achievements regardless of the awards themselves.

We don’t focus on awards as a destination. For us, the process of entering awards is a way of celebrating as a team.

Everything we put in that application — including the many achievements we’ve shared — is far more important than the plaque or the trophy or the certificate on the wall.

The big night (or “the nerd Oscars” to our families)

When the evening of the online iSANZ Awards ceremony came around, we sat (in my case, literally in a sparkly dress) on a video chat watching some of our heroes and our peers share the limelight as they were announced as finalists.

We weren’t upset about not winning the Best Security Service or Product category. We were up against some amazing technology born in New Zealand, and we congratulate Darkscope for their well-deserved win.

It’s an understatement to say we were surprised when SafeStack was announced as the winner of the Best Security Company of the Year category — a surprise probably best captured by my inappropriate choice of words (thankfully muted) on the Zoom call. Sorry!

Winning this award was a special moment for us as a team and we were privileged to be finalists alongside some of our favourite security folk over at ZX Security and Mindshift.

SafeStack is a small team with a big dream. While this award is a moment in time, we passionately believe in what we’re doing.

And we always remember there are many people out there who may not be winning awards but are doing fantastic work.

When the time comes, we’ll find a quiet shelf to put this award on. We’ll smile as we walk past it on the way into the office or heading home to see our families.

And we’ll remember all the little milestones and hard work that led to an award application we shared with a team that celebrated what they’d done together, regardless of what the result might be.

Our heartfelt gratitude

So for everyone who has supported us in the past two years, we thank you.

Awards are a great way for us to bring our supporters together, thank them properly, and show them in a concrete way what their support helps us achieve.

For those who have yet to support us but want to know more, we really encourage you to reach out. We’d love to hear your stories about how application security works in your world and how you’d like to see cyber security change for the better.

There will be other awards ceremonies. There will be other nominations. Perhaps if we’re lucky, we’ll even be finalists.

But for now, we’re going to capture that one and keep it in a special place. It’s our first award, after all. And I think it’s a special time to celebrate all we’ve achieved so far.