#dianainitiative2019: Certifications, Careers and Prohibitors for Women in Cybersecurity
Saying that “no one has a straight path in the career,” Kathleen Smith asked the panelists, two of whom had military experience, how they had started their careers.
Andrea Limbago, who is a doctor of political science, had worked in academia and had moved on to startups in cybersecurity, said “For all of us playing a role in preserving democracy,” one of the “missions of our time was to ensure retention of women in their jobs,” especially as there was more impact of cybersecurity on society. She noted that the other two panelists had got into cybersecurity via the Department of Defense.
Yolonda Smith, who works as a lead infosecurity analyst with Target, said her first interaction with technology was with a computer as a child, which she smashed when frustrated with a game. This led her to learn how it was put together.
She said: “IT is a capability and there are specialized training and certifications and the opportunity to deploy. There is the opportunity to ask and be curious.”
Susan Peediyakkal, a cyber-threat analyst who said she is currently on a career break and had spent 12 years in the military starting as a radar technician, was asked about education and certificates and whether to focus on experience “or letters on your résumé.” She said she had not finished her bachelor’s degree but had done a course in eCornell for women in leadership and was starting with Carnegie Mellon University to do a CISO supervision course.
Said Limbago, “If you don’t keep learning and coming to conferences like this, you will be left behind.” Yolanda Smith responded that there is “an obligation as professionals in this field to seek opportunities to educate yourself,” which could be a certification or a boot camp, but it was “up to you to craft your message.”
Asked by Kathleen Smith how she could evaluate opportunities about a move into management, Yolonda Smith said it is about the understanding of “going to work and fighting to be heard and respect,” what opportunities there were for her, if there were things she could learn and if there were skills she could learn and apply that would always be of interest.
Kathleen Smith asked about prohibitive factors on job descriptions and how they could be overcome. Peediyakkal said that she looks at job descriptions and “I don’t let them intimidate me as I go for it anyway” if she doesn’t have all of the skills if it is a job she wants.
Concluding by giving their current mottos, Yolonda Smith said it was “never measure someone else by your yardstick.” Don’t get frustrated by what others are doing and think “how come she got this?” she said. Instead, “make your next step yours.”
Peediyakkal said her was to “be humble.” One can be the ultimate high, while the next you can be “super frustrated.” She added, “Never take any moment for granted.”
Limbago said that hers was to “push yourself and try something new” as what got you into a previous position may not work again. Kathleen Smith said that it was important that we be “comfortable with being uncomfortable.”