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Celebrating women in cybersecurity

Wanda Cardenes

Wanda Cardenes


Happy International Women’s Day! Especially to those empowered women working in the technology industry and cybersecurity in particular.

Despite the fact that the cybersecurity field has traditionally been dominated by men, more and more women are now making their way into the sector.

One example of this is that in 2017 women working in the industry worldwide represented a mere 11%. A large gender gap that, according to the Women in Cybersecurity 2019 study, is slowly but surely closing. Representing women 24% of the total global cybersecurity workforce in 2019.

Although it is a positive indicator that the field is developing in the right direction. We need more women to look at the field from a different angle.

For that, we interviewed six of some of the women working here at AdaptiveMobile Security (including myself). To know from their experience how it is to work in the cybersecurity field. What are the challenges and their advice for women looking to work in the technology sector.

group of cybersecurity women working around a table with laptops and security intelligence data

A great mix of voices from different educational backgrounds and experiences:

Dr. Silke Holtmanns, who is our Head of 5G Security Research; Avalon Shiels with a background in finance; Gitanjali Tewari who is a human resources specialist; Michele Samuel, Sr. Project Manager; Jenni Danner, our US VP Major Accounts; and myself, Dr. Wanda Cardenes, with a background in marketing and advertising.

Know more about some of the women who are shaping the cybersecurity industry:

1. How are you contributing to shaping the cybersecurity industry?

As a professional member of the Project Management Institute, I am connected to resources available that ensures projects in the cybersecurity field are streamlined and strategically aligned for all deployments.

- Michel Samuel, Sr Project Manager in the US & Canada.
 

I’m a problem solver. I want to provide the best security possible to people. We work closely together with the operators in the GSMA association to understand their practical security challenges. Security needs always a good dose of pragmatism and creativity to succeed. That is what I try to bring in.

- Dr. Silke Holtmanns, Head of 5G Security Research.
 

I am always looking for more efficient ways to do things from a Finance and wider company perspective and I am not afraid to test the status quo.  I embrace new technology and methods to enable us all to work smarter, daily.

- Avalon Shiels, Financial Controller
 

I believe I am the cornerstone of the industry. In this fast-growing and rapidly changing technology, day by day increasing cybersecurity threats, identifying the right talent, and continuously working on employee training to match them to the real world are quite a few things in my opinion are very important to shape the industry.

- Gitanjali Tewari, HR Generalist
 

I have a completely different background to cybersecurity, which allows me to bring a fresh and unbiased view to what is an already complex industry. My main priority is to always put the focus on the needs of the costumer and how we can help satisfy those needs.

- Wanda Cardenes, Digital Marketing Manager
 

I have been in the telecommunications industry for years but more in the infrastructure and data analysis perspective. That background has allowed me to input to product needs and customer concerns in this role, along with some diverse and unique contacts.

- Jenni Danner, US VP of Sales and Business Development
 

eye of a woman with the cybersecurity target and coding

2. What are the challenges of working in the security field?

Keeping up with the various changes. This industry is one of the fastest-growing niches in information technology and new challenges arise daily.

- Michel Samuel, Sr Project Manager in the US & Canada.
 

Complexity and lack of deep understanding. Mobile networks get more complex with each generation and the old generations still need to be supported. From a security perspective, this means each generation introduces a new range of security risks and adds them on top of the existing list. While many people have a high-level understanding of potential risks, very few experts really understand the depth and sophistication of mobile network attacks. This can very easily lead to a false sense of security and then to a low-quality or underfunded security approach.

- Dr. Silke Holtmanns, Head of 5G Security Research.
 

I have been involved in the technology industry for 13 years now, I quickly learned that it is ever-evolving. It is a fast-paced industry and ensuring that you’re dynamic and agile is important. I think that the industry is viewed as being too technical and what can be overlooked is the fact that it is also a very creative industry. I think breaking down those barriers will allow the talent pool to grow.

- Avalon Shiels, Financial Controller
 

The cybersecurity industry is in a state of disrepair. Growing human resource problems put the efforts to secure technology at risk, due to insufficient staffing, skills, and diversity. The need for talent is skyrocketing, but it is very challenging to find qualified workers to meet current or future demands.

- Gitanjali Tewari, HR Generalist
 

For me, the biggest challenge is to translate complex terms into value propositions that can be easily understood, and in a language and tone that is appropriate for our target audience.

- Wanda Cardenes, Digital Marketing Manager
 

It has been a bit of a technology and language change for me, I feel you need to have a level of confidence in talking to customers about technology and that has been the learning curve I’ve gone through.

- Jenni Danner, US VP of Sales and Business Development
 

3. What is your advice for professional women who want to work in the technology sector?

Learn as much as you can about the field from every perspective possible. Take on jobs or responsibilities that you're not crazy about so you can learn even more. Stay focused… Of course, there will be many bumps along the way, but don’t get distracted or give up. Find a mentor early in your career and, as time goes on, give back by being a mentor to someone else.  Having guidance is essential. always remember that hard work is necessary to achieve your biggest dreams.

- Michel Samuel, Sr Project Manager in the US & Canada.
 

Go for it, do not be shy! It is not that there is a monopoly for men on IT-knowledge (even if it looks like that often enough). It’s interesting and you (must) learn every day. Another advice to make your life easier: Try not to justify your choice. Let other people not put you in a box. If you like ballet dresses and hacking, that’s ok. It is your life. If you again hear “Why do you chose as woman this IT job” by some uncle. The answer is actually pretty simple: I like it and I want it.

- Dr. Silke Holtmanns, Head of 5G Security Research.
 

I think it’s important first and foremost that we address the gap that still exists in the industry. We need young girls to be more exposed to STEM and it should start with the school’s curriculum via Government. There is a fantastic initiative called iWish for young girls at secondary school level so that they get exposure to real-life mentors and women in tech. Training is an important element and honing the skills needed for the industry is a good place to start for deciding whether it’s for you. Start small, don’t scare yourself. Internships and graduate programmes are a valuable avenue to give you exposure from the ground up.

- Avalon Shiels, Financial Controller
 

Some research indicates that females are typically less confident than males, in relation to career choices. It is therefore particularly important to make sure you are assertive about your skills and ability to do well and succeed in the industry. The technology sector is crying out for dynamic females so if you are passionate about enabling change through technology, don't hang around!

- Gitanjali Tewari, HR Generalist
 

Don’t hesitate and just do it! Don’t let your fears hold you back. Whether you have a background in IT or, like me, in marketing and advertising. My first recommendation is try to get some experience in the technology field, connect with people already working for the companies that you would like to work for, feel free to ask for advice. Most people are always willing to help. Once in the industry, keep your ears open, I guarantee you will never stop learning.

- Wanda Cardenes, Digital Marketing Manager
 

Technology and specifically telecommunications sectors have traditionally been male-dominated. When I started in the service provider industry, women did not makeup 10% of the workforce in my first company. So, there is a lot of opportunities. It is an exciting, fast-paced industry with great rewards.

- Jenni Danner, US VP of Sales and Business Development

 

Are you ready for your next challenge?

Get in touch. We’re looking for more empowered women who #ChooseToChallenge the normal and would like a career in cybersecurity.

looking for cybersecurity women to work at AdaptiveMobile Security

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Wanda Cardenes

Especialista en marketing estratégico digital, bilingüe en español e inglés. Cuenta con más de 15 años de experiencia en los sectores de TI, ciberseguridad, moda y viajes. Con experiencia en los mercados de Europa, Estados Unidos y América Latina, Wanda tiene una gran experiencia en la gestión de campañas de marketing digital centradas en el consumidor, desde la estrategia de comunicación hasta la implementación de la campaña. Generando nuevas oportunidades de venta a través de los diferentes canales digitales. Wanda es doctora en Publicidad y Relaciones Públicas, y le apasiona la tecnología y le gusta entender la seguridad que proporciona para proteger a las personas de los ciberataques.