I completed my Polytechnic Diploma in Computer Science & Engineering in 2002 and then started my career as a part time trainer while pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in the same discipline. Post my graduation I started as an Asst. Professor but soon joined corporate world where I was fortunate to work with Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan & Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland, Hewitt to name few.
A professional artist in modern and contemporary art, who has done exhibitions for charities, I am also an amateur mountaineer and a marathon runner. A passionate Cybersecurity enthusiast holding some prestigious certifications CISSP, CISM, CEH, ISO 27001 Lead Auditor, ISO27005 Risk Manager and Certified COBIT5 Implementer. I have also been fortunate to speak on Cybersecurity in some international conferences and universities.
Note: I understand that it’s not an article on women’s pregnancy and her strength. But trust me it’s not easy to look after yourself, your job, kids and family. I have just tried to look it from the same perspective and to understand how difficult it could be to manage them all and all the expectations around in a high-pressure job in Cybersecurity where mostly you have to be on your toes -always.
Why ‘Women in Cybersecurity’?
I got connected to Magda Chelly a few years back and like many of you, She always kept me guessing and wondering –
– Why just ‘Women in Cybersecurity’?
– What has Cybersecurity got to do just with ‘Women’?
– Why discuss gender in Cybersecurity?
– And much more such questions…
This was only after I met her I decided to pen down my thoughts on what does ‘Women in Cyber’ mean to me. My views could be narrow and solely based on whatever little experience I have but these are my own and yes this equally goes for all the women in cyber, Women related to those who’re in cyber or women in the corporate world or just the ‘WOMEN’.
Why it’s challenging for women?
In last few years, I have been busy preparing for few international speaking assignments and you know it’s not an easy piece of cake. I have two kids one 10-year-old and another just touched his 7th month. I have seen my wife going through her pregnancy. I can recall each moment of those 9 months and months thereafter till the baby is grown up to a level where he can talk and convey his problem. Continuous vomiting, nausea, morning sickness those continuous sleepless nights during pregnancy months to another couple of years.
Carrying out responsibilities
Carrying a life in the womb, getting up early in the morning with that dizziness and then a high-pressure job. Those who have been in the field of Cybersecurity know that you cannot work in silos and have to constantly coordinate with various teams within and outside organizations, internal and external audit, tech risk, BCP, DRP, Incident management, networks and yes you have women working in all those departments. They can’t even complain of what they are going through while performing their duties while at home or at office.
Handling high priority incidents
During last few years I have worked in various information security domains , HIPPA compliance, Cryptography implementations, PCI-DSS, PII & CIIs, Identity & Access Management, Information risk management etc. and when it comes to handling a high priority and high severity incident, you have to leave your personal commitments for the day behind.
Doing the incident analysis, assessment, help implement the solution and testing that it’s been resolved as expected is not an easy job when you know that it can result in loss of confidentiality, integrity or availability of the information resources that can put your organization at the risk of regulatory fines, legal issues or reputational damage.
Can you imagine the level of stress if I add few elements to it – taking care of kids, their health, their breakfast, lunch, dinner, helping them in their studies.
I’ll leave you here to imagine a high priority incident in office and kid’s exam next day or may be a situation she will not be able to leave office early and kids are waiting for their dinner!
Dealing with ‘egos’
Cybersecurity seem to be a male-dominated field be it number or influence or at least this diversity in the workforce is not balanced like many other fields. People might not agree with me on this because it might largely and probably depend on various societies or cultures but yes they have to deal with ‘those’ egos too. Maybe small but people have those egos and they need to learn to understand and respect.
Women in my Cybersecurity career
Not many but there were always few women colleagues whom I worked with. There was a time a few years back where I saw three of my teammates going on maternity but what was most amazing to see that they were still carrying the responsibilities and day to day tasks with the same dedication, commitment and quality.
I worked with some of the amazing managers (of course, women) and few things I learnt were ‘management’ and ‘prioritization’. Keeping stakeholders engaged, prioritizing incidents and still fully energised, managing office and family well.
Women In Cyber
Good news is, in past few years I have attended many international conferences and have seen an increase in presence of women
Be it smart city or smart nation projects, IoT, Cloud, Big Data, AI and other disruptive technologies, it will generate a need to look at Cybersecurity from a fresh perspective and women are gifted with the natural sense of creativity and innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.
I can go on writing on this topic and it will not be fair to limit a woman’s immense strength in just a few words but yes we all need to understand what it means for a woman to be in cyber and let’s support the movement, engage, encourage, inspire, motivate and most importantly respect #WomenInCyber.