Jinan Budge Charts Her Own Bold Path In Security And Risk Research
Forrester Boomerangs: A Q&A Series
One in 10 Forrester employees is a boomerang, a former employee who has rejoined the company. Boomerangs are an important part of Forrester’s cultural fabric, bringing new skills, fresh perspectives, and a rekindled passion to their roles. Our Boomerang Q&A series highlights the stories of some of the people who have made their way back to Forrester.
When Jinan Budge first joined Forrester as a senior advisor and analyst in 2010, she knew she had found the perfect role. Life circumstances led her to leave the company in 2013, but five years later, she returned to lead Forrester’s Security & Risk research service in Asia Pacific. The experience she gained in her time away equipped her to bring a new dimension to Forrester’s security and risk (S&R) research, one that remains highly influential to this day.
In this interview, the Sydney-based Budge, now a vice president and principal analyst, explains how the trust and support she’s been given at Forrester allowed her to pursue her passion while helping to bolster Forrester’s presence in the APAC region.
Q: What first brought you to Forrester in 2010?
JB: I had just moved to London from Australia and was working a contract security manager role at the Royal Bank of Scotland. I was still receiving notifications from when I was job hunting, and one was for a role at Forrester. The role was half senior advisor, half senior analyst, serving S&R professionals. The job description included things like talking and listening to clients, analyzing their challenges, presenting, writing, and just being creative. I had never seen a set of bullet points that described me and what I love so perfectly.
Q: What was your first experience of working at Forrester like?
JB: It was my first time working in Europe, with clients and colleagues in EMEA and North America. But right away, my feeling was: “These are my people.” There was such a sense of belonging. What made it even more so is that even though the cybersecurity workforce is 24% women, the global S&R team at Forrester was, and still is, 50/50 and reflective of all different cultural backgrounds. It was something that I’d never experienced.
I also was exposed to diverse global perspectives from our clients. I could be on a roundtable in Europe with clients from London, Germany, France, and Spain, and their security practices were so culturally different from one another’s; the perspectives they brought to the discussion were so different. Learning from our clients was a constant buzz and a privilege. It was a tremendous growth experience.
Another aspect of working at Forrester that I loved was the trust and support that I was given. About 10 months after I started, I was promoted to running Forrester’s S&R Leadership Boards [peer networking groups for security leaders] globally. Part of my role was growing and enhancing our business, which required trying different strategies. I remember presenting my ideas to my manager, who would simply ask me if I thought a certain strategy would work. I would present my rationale, and so long as it was reasonably sound, she would say, “Go ahead and do it. If you succeed, awesome. If you fail, I’ll be here to pick you up.” Hearing my manager say that was incredibly empowering and liberating.
My experience has been that you’re welcome here as yourself. I think that’s really important — not only for what it feels like but also for what it means for your productivity, creativity, and, ultimately, for your clients and the business.
Q: What led you to leave Forrester in 2013, and what were your next steps?
JB: My husband got a promotion to move back to Australia. By that time, I’d had my second baby, and my mom back home had battled through illness. I ultimately made the very difficult decision to leave Forrester. I went through a grieving process in the beginning. There’s no other way to describe it.
Over the next five years, I held several roles back in Australia. My first role when I returned was as a virtual chief information security officer (CISO) reporting to the CIO. It was a wonderful opportunity, but it was a comedown culturally and intellectually. There were large organizational politics, a slow pace of change, and limited exposure to new people and ideas.
I also briefly worked for a firm where people commented that my clothes were too colorful, my skirts were too short, my personality was too big for the market. I found that to be incredibly gendered feedback that was simply out of line with modern business practices. My next role, starting in early 2015, was initially a short-term contract with a major organization where I was going to simply write their security strategy but wound up helping stand up the biggest cybersecurity program that the organization had ever had. I obtained the budget, funding, and buy-in and was involved in hiring its next CISO. That set me up for my next role in early 2017 with another large organization, where I was once again responsible for standing up the security program and transforming security in the organization.
Both of those roles required a huge amount of personal resilience, communication, stakeholder engagement, vendor management, and the myriad other skills that a security leader develops on the job. They were tremendous learning experiences — I went from research and writing to being back in my Forrester clients’ shoes. It was an enormous privilege, and it allowed my future research with Forrester to be far more pragmatic and grounded in reality.
Q: What brought you back to Forrester in 2018?
JB: I had stayed close with my former managers and colleagues at Forrester. When Forrester was ready to launch S&R in Asia Pacific, the APAC managing director reached out. It was a tough call for me — I had worked really hard to build my brand in Australia, and at the time, Forrester’s brand in Asia Pacific in my field was unknown. But I knew that passing up the opportunity to rejoin Forrester would have been shortsighted. It’s hard to find a job that fits you and that you love.
Q: How was the experience of rejoining Forrester?
JB: My biggest fear when I rejoined was that I had overromanticized and oversold Forrester in my head and in my heart. I was really scared of a comedown. But it wasn’t — not once. It was literally like coming home. I was back with my people. I was back to a place where I would never get feedback on what I was wearing. My experience has been that you’re welcome here as yourself. I think that’s really important — not only for what it feels like but also for what it means for your productivity, creativity, and, ultimately, for your clients and the business. It’s huge.
Q: You’ve written a lot about culture in security teams, which differs somewhat from a lot of security research. How did that come about?
JB: Since we were just starting out in the Asia Pacific market, I was under a lot of pressure to become the jack of all trades in security. Could I cover managed detection and response? What about threat intelligence or dozens of other security topics? We have analysts globally covering those areas, but what I brought to the table was different. My passion, and what I’m great at, is focusing on culture and teams, rather than the very technical aspects that most people associate with security. It was a risk to give me the space to explore that, but my research director worked very, very hard to give me that space.
It worked: In the first 12–18 months, I blitzed all of my analyst-related metrics. My inquiries, research production, and research readership were sky-high in Asia Pacific and really helped prove the case for S&R in the region.
Fast-forward to today: We were able to launch the Forrester Decisions for Security & Risk service in Asia Pacific due to client demand. Human-centered security research is no longer niche, and many of my global colleagues now write about people-related matters. I love that I was able to bring the human, cultural element of security to our global S&R research agenda, and I even managed to bring Zero Trust to the market in the region. And it’s all because of the culture, trust, and support that I’ve been given from everyone on my team.
Q: What would you tell someone who is considering a role at Forrester?
JB: For one, examine your values. Do you love collaboration? Do you value trust? Do you see the value of having a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture? Do you want to do work that breaks away from the status quo?
Also, for those considering an analyst role, recognize that it is such a privilege to do this work and to be in a culture like we have at Forrester. When I’m taking inquiries or guidance sessions or doing advisories, when I help my clients in the way that I do, I recognize that we are so influential. It is such an incredible privilege. And with that privilege comes great responsibility.
The work of an analyst is not easy. You’ve got to be willing to work hard. But there’s a whole village that will be invested in making it work for you. And the rewards are tremendous.