International Women's Day 2021: Chris Brazdziunas, Bitdefender
This is part of a running series for #IWD2021. We sat down with women leaders across the industry for a Q&A to get their insights on the state of women in cybersecurity. Recognize Women Leaders in the 2021 Tech Ascension Awards.
How has the women workforce in cybersecurity evolved over recent years?
There continues to be an increase in opportunities for women to pursue a career in cybersecurity especially as the industry notoriously faces a shortage of needed talent to keep pace with cybercrime. At Bitdefender for example, not only do I have a prominent role leading a team of hundreds, many of our top reverse malware engineers and researchers in our labs are also women. The number of communities and mentorship opportunities for women in security and technology also continues to rise. These forums for building relationships and networking are crucial to the professional and personal development of women in technology today, and for establishing strong female role models in the industry that the next generation can look to as inspiration for their own career path. What advice would you give to young women looking to enter into cybersecurity?
There are many roles within cybersecurity. Don’t limit yourself. Cybersecurity is surrounded by the myth that you must be in an analyst, researcher, or have deep technical skillsets to work within the industry. There are certainly tech and IT-focused positions, but there is so much more. Those interested in public policy can focus on cybersecurity and compliance. Cybersecurity needs marketers, copywriters, forensic accountants, customer success and support staff, and many other unique professionals. If you want to be in this domain, find a discipline that aligns. All of these tracks can prepare you for leadership roles while centering on both a discipline and a domain that you’re passionate about. Invest in your professional network. Start now. Reach out to others—especially other women—in your field. It is through our connections that we learn, find support, and are often pointed to new opportunities. Don’t hold on to perceptions too tightly, and be willing to accept change. People can change, develop, and grow, and it’s important to give them room to do so. Keep your mind open to who people are today. No one is perfect, and no one is stagnant. The cyber security industry is fast growing. Because of this, people at times can get into roles they may not be fully ready for from a knowledge or leadership perspective. For those who fall into this category, they have to grow and evolve in the role. So, mistakes will happen! Where this happens most often is in leadership positions like a first time manager. One thing you can be assured of in cybersecurity is that those who choose it as a career are strongly motivated, thirst for continuous learning, and will always continue evolving.