Amber C. Williamson is an IT Mentor Advocate for upcoming aspirants in the Cybersecurity & Information Technology world. Her journey was introduced during her childhood and has never left. She is the first generation in her family to have a Double Bachelor’s and Double Master’s Degree in Biology, Computer Science, Information Systems, and Network Communications. Amber has over 12+ years of industry experience and currently pursuing her cybersecurity certifications for 2018. She is a force to be reckon with and willing to make a difference in the lives of others in Cyber Security.
My Path: I was always involved in technology. From having my first Texas Instrument TI-99 computer keyboard, a Casio word processor, and lastly a home built computer, I knew that my world would soon change for the best. I was always playing video games as a child because I loved the challenge. Throughout my formal primary and secondary education, I had the opportunity to take computer classes and joined the Computer Club. In high school, I had the opportunity to learn the components of a computer and assembling my personal computer. I didn’t understand the different components of the computer, which lead me to researching how a computer worked. During my math courses, I wrote a paper about Texas Instruments Calculators and decided that this is what I wanted to do. At that time of my life, I was preparing for my future in the STEM world.
When I was at Xavier University of Louisiana, I was able to connect to the campus internet and assisting my peers with their connections. I was fortunate to take a few computer information system courses to learn more about the field. I realized that I had that special gift in Information Technology. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit Xavier University of Louisiana and I decided to talk to my mentor about other options. My mentor advised that I embarked in taking some Computer Science courses and going into that direction. I self-enrolled at DeVry University and decided to take some Computer Information System courses. Within a year, I was graduating with my second Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Management with a focus in Computer Information Systems with honors. After completion of my second Bachelor’s Degree, I went on and pursed two Master’s Degrees in Information Systems Management and Network Communications Management with a Wireless Concentration from Keller Graduate School of Management with honors in both degrees.
After completing my degrees, I was advised that in order to become an effective Subject Matter Expert in Information Technology, you need to obtain some valuable certifications. Education and Certifications are very critical in the field of Information Technology. I have had roles in Help Desk, Technical Support, Field Engineering, Networking Engineer, and now Network Security/Cybersecurity Engineering. By having those critical roles, I was able to obtain the Hands-On Experience needed for the industry. I always wanted to engage myself in roles that would serve as a need and benefit for the industry. Cybersecurity is a fascinating field and it’s never a dull moment in this industry. Cybersecurity is an industry that needs females in the field and needing to make a difference in protecting data and saving people live through integrity.
Challenges: The challenges that I have faced are quite common for most women. In this industry, you will face intimidation, race and gender, job requirements specifications, and lastly certification expectations. I’ve learned that you must face challenges on day at a time. Things that you cannot control then don’t worry about them. In this industry, you need to establish some grounds and establishing an accountability partner. I’ve been blessed to have two people that I can depend on to having them as my Accountability Partners. In this industry, it is very important to have a mentor that will be willing to assist you throughout your career. Throughout my career, I have failed a lot of industry related certifications. I have learned that failure is your best teacher in life. If you fail a test, don’t allow the test to take the best out of you. Instead, regroup and reassess the situation before handing the test again. Eventually, you will pass the test and it will be worth the struggle in your journey. I have learned that there’s not enough female in cyber security and there’s a huge shortage of individuals wanting to embark in this industry. I am willing to make a difference and helping those that have helped me in this field.
Aspirations: My future aspiration consists of becoming Cyber Security Architect and being more involved from a managerial state. I always see myself taking over the Cyber Security world, one day at a time. Nothing comes easy when it comes to Information Technology. I am currently volunteering teaching with TEALK, a Microsoft Philanthropy program that allow people with Computer Science experience give back to the community. I can honestly say that I love what I do in this industry.
Franziska Bühler currently works as a Senior Systems Engineer in Switzerland.
Her main areas of responsibility are web server security and everything related to the access layer. In Switzerland, this typically includes authentication and web application firewalls.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a specialization in IT security. She is also a Certified OSSTMM Professional Security Tester (OPST), accredited by ISECOM (Institute for Security and Open Methodologies).
Some things inspire us and have a “wow” effect on us. Some things inspire us and make us wonder more but some things inspire us and make us take an action. I remember giving my first presentation about Cell phone viruses and security in 2008 for my intercollege paper presentation competition, and this was the first time I got interested in cyber security. After winning that competition, I started participating in more state and national level competitions, going to different colleges to listen to different speakers and reading the latest news about what is going on in this field.