Danyetta Fleming Magana founded Covenant Security Solutions,
Inc. in 2003 with a big vision: To secure your way of life. Her goal was to push
the envelope on how we think about information and find innovative ways to Cyber
Magana's company assists clients with a full approach to Cyber
security. This is accomplished through understanding the people and processes
behind the zeros and ones of client data, Magana explained--underscoring the
importance of her four lines of business: Audit, Advisory Services, Security
Engineering and Intrusion Detection Support.
In 2012 and 2011, her company was recognized by Diversity Business
as one of the “Top 500 African American Owned Businesses” and one of the
“Top 100 Diversity Owned Businesses in the USA.”
Magana has also been published in the Defense Information Systems Agency
IA Newsletter and interviewed on Federal News Radio's “Mark Amtower
Show.” She has more than 10 years of experience providing security risk
management services and security engineering/architecture support in the public
and private sectors. IA is published by the Department of Defense's
Cyber Security and Information Assurance.
A recipient of the Army’s Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, Magana
now sits on the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association
Technology Committee. The AFCEA, which was established in 1946, is a non-profit
organization serving its members by providing a forum for the ethical exchange
of information, and dedicated to increasing knowledge through the exploration of
issues relevant to its members in information technology, communications and
electronics for the defense, homeland security and intelligence communities.
Magana earned a bachelor's in engineering from the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2001, she received the Black Engineer of the
Year “Most Promising Engineer in Government” Award. She is a certified
information systems security professional (CISSP) in the global information
security arena. Magana shared her thoughts on women in STEM leadership and
innovation via e-mail with USBE Online.
USBE Online: As president and CEO of your own firm
you provide a road map on where your company is going and how it would get
there. What would you say are the fundamentals of executive leadership?
Danyetta Fleming Magana: Clarity of vision and ability to communicate it to
others and aligning them to the vision. The key part is to excite the other to
participate by harnessing their needs and dreams. The more willingness one can
solicit the more potential for possibility and productivity. The clearer
you are of your vision the easier it is for everyone to share in the
responsibilities required toward its success.
USBE Online: What would you say are the 5 most critical
skills of leadership?
Danyetta Fleming Mangana: Communication. The backbone of everything
is your ability to listen, hear, understand and relate information. The better
you are at understanding and receiving information; communicating information,
the easier it is to move toward success. Engagement and partnering create
Vision. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you lead
anyone? Often we get a goal and confuse it with vision. Vision is having the
gift of clarity to see the possibilities of what can be or what will be and then
being able to define it well enough for people to follow you there.
Creativity and Innovation. In leadership you are constantly in the
creative process. You can use what has been as a guide, but in true creation you
define how it can be better or, even better, wipe the slate clean and devise a
new way altogether. Including finding new ways of dissolving cultural
boundaries and psychological boundaries to build trust and to
access powerful people resources we bring into our organization.
Understanding core values. In order to lead, I’ve learned the clearer I
am on where my internal values, and the articulation of them in all that I do,
the more the situations and people around those values appear in my life. In
leadership, we have to know when to join the show and when to walk away.
Values help you and your organization understand the difference between what you
are willing to give up or when that goal is not even an option because it takes
you all out of your core values. Leadership lies in the constant choice one has
to make between that which we seek and that which we try to avoid.
Intuition in business is often overlooked, but in any successful venture
you understand it is immensely valuable to just “know when you
I find that in many environments, we are taught to rely on hard facts when in
reality any report you obtain, regardless of how much research, is only giving
you a prediction of the future based on past events. This is,
sometimes, not always accurate, and often fails to take into account the
intangibles such as what is going on people’s lives, their ability to cope with
change and other factors that cannot be handled in a pure data vantage
I believe as women leaders we often shy away from embracing the
“Inner wisdom” we have that brings tremendous clarity and insight into
situations . The intuition or “inner wisdom” we have can take these data points
and then bring a sense of clarity to them by viewing the emotional side that is
very critical to true success in any organization embracing the
With that comes the fundamental shift from having to do it right every time
to believing life is about continually learning to do it better.
USBE Online: What’s been your greatest challenge and how did
you overcome it?
Danyetta Fleming Mangana: Wanting more and not knowing what it is. Not
knowing how to be in ambiguity, uncertainty and discomfort and find[ing] my way
towards being effective as a leader. How I overcame this is by developing
skills, tools and competencies associated with navigating uncertainty and
being vulnerable. risks. Be[ing] in discomfort has significantly contributed to
my resilience, transformation and insights. One key learning in this has come
from the ability to express myself in a larger context of expansion rather than
from conflict which empowers everyone from my staff to
USBE Online: What tips would you give to a
young female graduate starting out in Cybersecurity?
Magana: The sky is the limit. Focus on creating incredible unity, collaboration
and innovation. Stay open to challenge and learning. The most successful
people in cybersecurity are those willing to keep pushing themselves and willing
to learn. Technology and how we use technology is changing all the time
and to be successful you need to stay connected and open to learning something
new continuously. The field is truly in its infancy and we need young
creative women to challenge us to be better. Two guiding questions to ask one
another is 'If we could wish for the impossible, what would we do? If we had
unlimited resources, what would we do?' And get started in whatever small way
towards creating it.