The IT Security Guru’s Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards aims to shed a light on the remarkable women in our industry. The following is a feature on just one of the many phenomenal women put forward for the 2021 awards. Presented in a Q&A format, the nominee’s answers are written in their own words with minor edits made by the editor for readability.
This year, the awards are sponsored by KPMG and Beazley.
I am the founder and director of a boutique London-based information security governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) management consulting firm specialising in providing creative, cost-effective, independent management consultancy and security awareness solutions.
I started in the field of software development and project management. In 2007, I had the chance of a lifetime to lead the project of creating the electronic mobile signature solution including cyber security controls, HSMs, a data centre and a trust centre. During this project, I had to learn digital signatures, public key infrastructure, implement ISMS, get ISO27001 certified and create a secure & compliant turn-key solution. Once the project was successfully completed, there was no going back to software development, I had found my passion: cyber security!
I was the only girl in my university degree programme and I graduated with the highest grade. I am so glad that I was prepared to be the only woman in the room as this was almost always the case at work. My biggest challenge was gaining the trust of technology teams when I was leading security and governance. At first, they didn’t show confidence (most probably because of my gender); however, I overcame this after having several deep conversations about the technologies they were using, their problems and how security could help them solve these and become an enabler.
I am a volunteer at the SANS Institute and have translated their monthly security awareness letter for more than five years. I am also a Professional Member at the British Computer Society (BCS), Silver Member at ISACA London Chapter and an ambassador for SheLeadsTech. I am an instructor at Fintech Istanbul for the Cyber Security and Computer Ethics classes. I created the course outline and facilitate these courses.
I mentored 12 female professionals who decided to move their careers into cyber security during my career. I am also an active member and a mentor at Reed – Women in Technology Mentoring Scheme where I help women working in IT, Digital, Data and Transformation and support individual performance in their current role and the achievement of their career goals. I also contribute to industry publications as a voluntary reviewer at the BCS. In 2020, I had the honour of winning the TechWomen2020 Awards for my outstanding contribution to the women in the technology sector.
I try to use every opportunity to increase diversity in the tech/cyber industry and I believe we have a lot of work to do; however, diversity is only the start and we should also focus on inclusion as we need every voice to be heard if we want to make the world a better place. I love numbers and I am a believer in “you cannot improve it if you cannot measure it”. If I may, I kindly suggest that everyone read the “Decrypting Diversity 2020” which is a joint report between the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and KPMG UK to get a clearer picture of the facts.
If men can do it, you can do it too. In fact, I think you can do it even better with all the soft skills you have, as the industry needs them desperately!
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