Monday, 08 March 2021 23:09

On IWD2021, Trustwave director Jane Bounds challenges the idea that men dominate the cybersecurity industry


Jane Bounds is Director of Marketing at Trustwave, and on #IWD2021, she's here to debunk the myth that cybersecurity is for men only, that this misperception is discouraging women from entering the cyber security industry, and she spoke to four outstanding colleagues about it. 

Trustwave is owned by Optus, and is a cybersecurity and managed security service provider "focused on threat detection and response", while also helping businesses "embrace digital transformation securely".

Jane Bounds shared her views on International Women's Day, the 8th of March 2021, and says she is "here to debunk the myth: It’s not only men in the cybersecurity industry."

She says that "the perception of cybersecurity is of a male-dominated, woman-unfriendly zone. Male hackers in hoodies with the occasional female cyber genius thrown in for the sake of colour in Hollywood movies and Netflix series."

Bounds is here "to say not only is this dead wrong, but the misperception has the power to discourage cyber as a career for future women and that needs to stop."

So recently, she "decided to sit down with four of my Australian female cybersecurity teammates to find out a little bit more about their careers so I could do my part to change the misperception."

The women? Associate Director of Product Management Amanda “AJ” Johnstone; Principal Security Advisor and Australian Women in Security Network Sydney Chapter Lead Narelle Wakely; Cybersecurity Consultant and MNS IT Security Manager Laura O’Neill; and Cybersecurity Consultant and Ambassador at NSW Cyber Security Innovation Node Georgia Turnham

Here’s what Jane said she learned:

Q. I have teenage daughters. How would you recommend a career in cybersecurity to them?

AJ: Our own data is left across many places – in browsers, on health records, and with Alexa! Nearly everyone will need an understanding of cyber to progress their personal and professional life. As part of a global organization I get to work with people from different backgrounds and viewpoints, many with years of knowledge. I can bring my previous experience to our cross-functional teams to meet the needs of Australian business as they protect your data. I’m continually challenged and always learning. In fact, a business mindset can be advantageous in this industry – we look for people who can spot the oddities versus being the tech boffin. And I love being on the side of good versus evil.

Narelle: It’s been an extremely flexible career, and I’ve had many leaders along the way who have provided support and encouragement. I’ve worked part-time and raised a family, and still feel like I’m contributing to something that helps the community. Cybersecurity is needed and necessary and so exciting. We wouldn’t have online shopping without it. It pays well and there are so many jobs on offer. It’s also not all coding or technical testing. You can work alongside tech teams to do the engineering. Converting technical concepts into plain language, championing the need for security with board leaders and communicating the risks has been very rewarding.

Laura: Indeed, Trustwave, in my opinion, has a greater gender diversity than many other companies, and it’s never boring. You are guaranteed to do different things every day – new issues arise, every client has a different way of doing things… their security issues are unique, as their systems are all designed differently. In the future, a lot of jobs will be automated, and may not exist in the same form. With cybersecurity, the task is constantly evolving. The need for cybersecurity skilled professionals will only get bigger as society relies more on technology.

Georgia: I’m here to debunk the myth. It’s not only men in this industry. Find what you’re interested in and understand that anything and everything has a cyber aspect. For example, the car you drive has a key that communicates with the onboard computer, the radio is internet connected. Cyber is interwoven in almost all aspects of life. There is so much room to make this your niche. I didn’t have the conventional pathway into this career, but my experience has given me confidence to try something new.

Q: How did you get into cybersecurity?

AJ: After a long career in the telco industry part of which was in the Optus Enterprise Mobility team, I moved into Marketing Programs which was my first exposure to cybersecurity, where I was part of the team supporting the opening of the Trustwave Security Operations Centre in Sydney in 2016. I saw the opportunity that cyber presented and caught the ‘cyber bug’.

Narelle: I graduated in IT and worked for a big bank programming their point-of-sales systems and ATM network, working with encryption technologies to protect information. Having completed the Y2K project, I was offered a role in IT security or business banking. I chose IT security, now known as cybersecurity, and have enjoyed a very exciting career in what is still a growth industry. Cybersecurity has enabled me to work around the globe in various roles which has been a lot of fun as well as a worthwhile endeavour to help protect others.

Laura: I realised while studying pure math that a future as a mathematician was not for me, but really enjoyed number theory and cryptography courses I had taken. I was also studying computer science at the same time, so cyber security seemed to be the perfect mix of both.

Georgia: While at university I met a Trustwave employee at a networking event that eventually led me to a role with the company. My approach to life has always been to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that life presents. At university I interned with the team at Project Everest Ventures in Malawi, working on issues impacting the African community, specifically on the project 'Hidden Hunger’. I lobbied Trustwave for work while I finished my degree, hoping that I could make meaningful change in organisations and apply the analytic skills I had gained in my degree, which was not technical at all. I’ve managed to ramp up my ‘hard’ skills through additional online courses and buddying up with other cyber professionals at Trustwave, while applying my investigative nature to the role.

A longer version of this discussion can be found at this blog post here.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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