How did you come to be a Senior Director of Trust & Security?
“I took my cybersecurity passion and made it happen”. Ah no, I do believe that when you find your true career passion you will excel naturally at it. I have 21 years experience in the field of Information Security/Cyber Security. I owe alot of where I got today to the people I am surrounded by, my family and career mentors those who were there with me through the thick and thin providing value advice and guidance. My very first sponsor was the CIO/COO in Allied irish Banks, a man named Marcel McCann. He mentored me for the first 12 years of my career. After I left Allied Irish Banks I felt I didn’t have a true career sponsor until I met Vanessa Pegueros. Vanessa Pegueros was the first female CISO I worked directly for and it was through her continued sponsorship opening the doors for me that allowed me to demonstrate my cybersecurity passion and capabilities. Thank You Marcel and Vanessa.
What do you like about being a Senior Director of Trust & Security?
I love being OneLogin’s Senior Director of Trust and Security as I get to work daily with the awesome team at OneLogin, and I have the opportunity to help our customers with securing access to their most critical systems and data. Working as part of a global team and company, I have gotten amazing opportunities to share my career experiences with cyber security professionals, male and female all around the world. I think the thing I like most is that I now have the opportunity to help those starting out with their careers. I love helping others and giving back to the industry.
What unique value do you think women bring to this job, if any?
I don’t think I can answer this fairly. Throughout my career I haven’t worked with enough mixed gender teams to answer this factually. That being said working as part of an international and global cybersecurity team/s I see women tend to play a significant role in cybersecurity communications from awareness to threat intelligence and incident management.
What kind of obstacles are women likely to encounter or did you encounter as a woman working in your career?
This may seem very ironic but other women and bad behaviors have been the two obstacles in my career.
Not all women of course just some women. I used to think Women were harder on other Women to help them build resilience to succeed but unfortunately, I no longer think this is the case. In the age of gender diversity and inclusion both Women and Men can behave badly. I say to build trust with diversity and inclusion you need to “practice what you preach” with transparency.
This is for this very reason why I conclude “bad behaviors” are the biggest obstacle that women and men will experience in their careers. The reasons why people behave badly are broad and complex. From my experience, they tend to be fundamentally related to the individual feeling threatened. They can have a detrimental impact on someone’s career if the person can’t see through it and isn’t strong and confident to put themselves first and their career.
What advice would you give to women, in particular, who are entering the workforce or this career?
Here is the article I wrote on this for International Women’s Day last year with my top 5 tips for carving out your career, Top Tips for Carving out a Career in Cyber Security.
(If you came from another country or work in another country) How did/does your experience as a woman in Ireland shape your career, your attitudes towards it, or your approach to work?
I am an “International Woman”. Irish born, raised and still living in Dublin Ireland. I work for a global company working with our OneLogin operations around the globe. I consider myself so fortunate that I have and continue to work with so many great leaders male and female, who have taught me so much in particular about operating as a global leader. You can “think global but continue to “act” local.
The theme of Women’s Day this year is “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”. What do you think are the biggest changes we can make as a society to realize women’s rights?
I think we need to invest in our leaders of tomorrow starting with our schooling systems. Making the changes there by educating our youth on equality and how they can live it day to day in school, in sporting lives and home lives. Last year I was chatting with my god-daughter Mia and her father. Mia was 9 years old at the time. Her father asked her if she wanted to be “a model or actress when she grows up” I quickly replied “no Mia would like to be a CEO”. Since then we speak about Mia being a CEO and I keep encouraging her by saying what a great CEO she will be as she can take charge of any situation. Only last night Mia spoke to me about our Irish political election and who she would have voted for. I think that girls need that extra bit of confidence during their teenage and early 20’s. I saw this too with my oldest god-daughter Emma. At the age of 25 she was feeling a bit dis-illsioned about her job and she had never really thought of a career. Knowing her capabilities we sat together and defined a career plan together. Emma put in the hard work over the 4 years, working during the day and studying at night. I gave her the snippets of mentoring, guidance and support she needed. Emma is now qualifying with a Higher cert in Computer Science and Systems Management. She is specializing in Cyber-Security and Forensics. I know she will make a great CISO one day. We are all surrounded by our leaders of tomorrow and I would encourage all to share your experiences and words of encouragement to help to continue “diverse and inclusive environment” of tomorrow.
What small changes do you think people can make in their daily life or work life to realize Generation Equality?
Build a diverse and inclusive workforce and operating environment. Again it’s all about “thinking global but acting local”. I would encourage all to take 10 minutes of our working week to analyse their team and skillset from a diverse and inclusive environment perspective. Look at all aspects, not just gender. So age, nationality, ethic background, professional background, professional skills/competence and experience. Then assess the operating environment for inclusiveness - what time of the day are your team meetings, where do you go for lunch as a team, what do you talk about, where do you do your team building and social events etc . From the assessment, make a commitment to yourself to change one aspect of diversity and one aspect of inclusion in your team. Hold yourself accountable for delivering it.
What would you ask men, in particular, to do to help improve Gender Equality?
I would encourage all men in all roles to look at Maslow’s theory of human motivation in the context of creating highly performing teams. The theory has 3 stages to it and looking at improving gender equality at each stage to create highly performing teams is a measured, reasonable and fair approach to achieving the best outcome creating a highly performing team.
How have other women helped you in or career or how do they contribute to your career growth and work life happiness?
I am fortunate in my career that I am surrounded by strong lady leaders. My Mother Violet has been my greatest female influence. She has helped me so much, particularly as a divorcee, lone parent moving my career into leadership. I couldn’t have taken that career jump without her. My mother is my hero and has always been the wind beneath my wings. Vanessa Pegueros is my greatest sponsor of my career. I wish we could clone Vanessa Pegueros and all aspiring female lady leaders could have the opportunity to work with Vannesa. She is truly unique and the most inspiring thought leader I have ever worked with, Shannon Leighton is someone I call my “unsung hero” not only is she a great friend, but Shannon helped me so much when I took on my first global role at the former company where we both worked - DocuSign. Shannon helped her set-up the function and my team and remains my international ambassador across the Atlantic ocean.
What do you find the percentage has been of women to men in Cybersecurity during your career and have you seen a change?
For the first 10 years of my security career I was the only female in the team and I guess for the majority of my career that has been the case. I did notice this change when I took my career global and went working for USA headquartered companies — Workday and DocuSign. Both these companies had female security team members at all levels.
In every role I have been in across my 21 years in Security I have always grown the team with at least 1 female member.
And Yes in the last 5-7 years of my career I have seen a huge change with empathize on growing gender diversity in the industry. I would like to see the industry grow across all aspects of diversity and for the industry to build a sustainable inclusive environment for all to operate successfully in.
What do you hope to see change in your field or industry, for women in particular?
With the cybersecurity skills shortage currently at 4 million globally, I hope for the cybersecurity industry and industry professionals will continue to invest in “diversity and inclusive” programs. That needs us all as professionals to “think global and act local”. This too means calling out and correcting bad behaviours so women can reach their true potential.
What would you say to young women considering entering Trust & Security?
I say it all the time “ Take your cybersecurity passion and make it happen”. I am very passionate about CyberSecurity and I am working for an amazing company called OneLogin that is transforming and enabling industries around the globe securely access their most sensitive systems, data and information. What more could be so exciting!!