2020 FierceTelecom Rising Star - Versa's Monnia Deng

The FierceTelecom editorial team is proud to announce our second annual Rising Stars series, in which we’re profiling up-and-coming executives in the telecom industry. We’ve selected a slate of executives whom we think are on the rise in 2020. We’ll be doling out the names of our winners, two per day, so that our readers have the time to enjoy reading their profiles. And next week, we’ll post a Rising Stars poll, giving everyone the opportunity to vote for their favorite top executive to watch in the FierceTelecom ecosystem. We hope you enjoy the series!

Monnia Deng became an expert in security solutions because she had to. Six years ago a DC-area technology company hired her to do business development and immediately cancelled the product she’d been recruited to work on. The CEO was pivoting the entire engineering effort toward security. “I, who had just gotten hired a few months ago, needed to learn security or else I didn’t have a job,” Deng remembers. 

Deng wasn’t just new to security; she was new to tech marketing in general. Her previous job had been with a lobbying firm. Now she was lobbying for herself, and it worked -- she was offered a position as an associate product manager, and was soon promoted to product manager.  

“It was a great learning experience, but in that role … I envied my product marketing peers,” Deng said. “They got to tell the story of the product … taking complex technical components and solutions and distilling it in a way that is compelling and sellable to the general public. That’s really powerful in my opinion. The engineering stack can be wonderful, but if it’s not properly represented to a customer or to the public, it’s not going to sell the way it should.” 

Deng told her boss that she saw marketing as her calling, and apparently she was right. One company after another has recruited her to market security solutions. Now Deng is a senior product marketing manager at Versa Networks, which like Deng is an up-and-comer. According to the analysts at Dell’Oro, the pure play SD-WAN vendor surpassed heavyweight VMware in market share last year.

RELATED: OmniClouds picks Versa Networks for SD-WAN across the Middle East and Africa

Versa was selling primarily to service providers until this year. Deng said the company is now investing in direct enterprise sales and marketing, which is a big part of her job. She said Versa is hiring, and she looks forward to mentoring new product marketers. She wants to help them get excited about networking security.

“It actually protects people; it protects organizations,” she said. “It helps optimize performance and it enables people to work faster, smarter and more securely. I know there’s something great here, and I want to be able to be a storyteller.”