"Don’t accept ‘no,’ women who want careers in cybersecurity can get one, says Juniper Networks exec"
Below is an article originally written by Howard Solomon, a Freelance Writer for IT World Canada, and published on March 11, 2020. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Juniper Networks. Go to Juniper Networks' page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Samantha Madrid's path to becoming vice-president of Juniper Networks' security business began in high school when she was told, 'no'.
It's not uncommon for women to be told no, particularly those trying to build a career in IT and cybersecurity.
Samantha Madrid, Juniper Networks
She told several hundred at the Canadian Women In Cybersecurity conference Tuesday in Toronto that over the years, "there were a lot of 'nos' that I learned to navigate."
But this particular one galled her. It came from her high school guidance counsellor.
Coming from a poor home in the U.S. and raised by a single mother, Madrid had told the advisor she planned to go to college. Among her dreams were becoming a business executive, a trial lawyer or a lobbyist arguing for people who didn't have a voice.
"You may want to take a different path," the counsellor responded. "Not everybody is meant for college."
Madrid refused to accept that.
"I remember thinking I wasn't a bad student, but I was a decent student. I was varsity on the debate team, I was co-captain of the swim team. I was very competitive.
"I was shell-shocked. I was devastated. I went home and cried all night long.
"And then I got angry. And this was the point that defined who I am. Because I got so angry at her I said, 'I'm going to show her that she is wrong.'"
These kinds of experiences aren't unusual for women, or some men, Madrid said. "You can either let it define you or let it motivate you."
It's easier to be a woman in cybersecurity today than it was 30 or 40 years ago, the conference heard. The profession and related roles, like risk managers — are still overwhelmingly male. Women still account for only 10 per cent of those in cybersecurity jobs in Canada.
But there are some bright spots. One speaker noted a recent global report last year by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, (ISC)², a non-profit which specializes in training and certifications for cybersecurity professionals, found women in cybersecurity are younger, boast more education and are moving into senior leadership roles at higher rates than men. And while they are paid less than men, the gap is less in younger age groups and for women in senior positions.
Millenial-aged women making more than US$100,000 have overtaken their male counterparts.
The conference featured a number of Canadian women who hold titles like vice-president or team leader in IT or risk management. Many recalled being the only woman in a networking class or on their first IT team. Most said their managers were supportive.
But they also talked about the need for women in IT to find a mentor, be more assertive in their careers, to look for opportunities for promotion. To say yes.
Madrid's message was that obstacles — you need a certification, you can't do that job — can be part of a career path.
She offered these five tips:
- Be introspective. Be honest with yourself: Have you put in the effort, or is there a way to get around that obstacle? Didn't get a promotion? Did you really deserve it? It's easy to blame people for things that don't go your way? Ask what you really want, be it in career or marriage. "Once you figure it out you do everything you can to make that happen." In fact, when she interviews candidates for jobs she asks, 'What are your blind spots?' I don't like writing so I partner with people to give me the confidence so I can write."
- Everything is a choice. Everything in your life is the result of the choices you made. You may not have chosen the situation, but how you react is within your control. And choice that allows you to overcome that obstacle. "Often when we hear no … we think there is no path."
- It's not always about you. In a poor performance review, or someone was disrespectful, whatever, there may be more at play. Try to understand the other person's point of view. "Early in my career, I was on a successful team … I wanted to make sure I was best on the team … It was always about 'me,' And she was bounced from the team for not being a team player. I realized that was 100 per cent my own doing. And I never made that mistake again."
- Be adaptable. You will never be able to predict happens tomorrow but if you have the ability to adapt you are invaluable. "If someone says 'no' you have to be able to pivot around that. It does not mean you're goal wrong and you're not going to reach your end destination. But you may have to bob and weave, you may have to take an alternative path. Have your goal, but be flexible on your method."
- Trust your gut. That's the number one thing that derails people from achieving their goals. It's why people who hear no step back. It's why she didn't step back when the counsellor suggested she shouldn't think about going to college. Or when people suggested going to a company whose reputation had fallen wasn't a good career move.
By the way, after graduating from college Madrid worked for a U.S. state senator and didn't like it. Along the way she picked up some aptitude for computers, so when a friend told her Cisco Systems was hiring, she read books about networking so was prepared and applied. And once she was hired took some certification courses.
"You have to believe in yourself. It doesn't matter the obstacle … At the end of the day, you are your only cheerleader and you are the only person who will make it or break it."
The conference was organized by SiberX, a Toronto-based training and skills development platform.
Women Founders & CEOs Share Their Tips
If you're anxious about looking for a new job right now, you're not alone. We've talked before about how you can land a job in the midst of COVID-19, but today we wanted to share advice from some of the experts who spoke at our inaugural Diversity Reboot Summit.
If you're struggling with perfectionism:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="824ce73e30a279a266a5dd91047dd6f5"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/y58Luzbv_vw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, the international nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a computer programmer looks like and does. Since her viral TED Talk, "Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection" resonated worldwide, Reshma has been on a mission to inspire women to leave socially-ingrained perfectionism behind and rewire themselves for braver, bolder lives. Reshma talked with Zeryn Sarpangal, Chief Financial and People Officer, Code For America, about how women can work to be brave, not perfect, as they look for new opportunities. </em></p>
If you're looking to pivot into tech (and land a remote job):<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="80353e84513d2d043db309aaa94d457a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZaPMxG_5C40?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>Adda Birnir, CEO of Skillcrush, shares her tips for getting the skills you need to land a remote job, even if you don't have a tech background. Skillcrush is an online tech-education company that helps their women make a career change into tech. </em></p>
If you need an inside connection:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e38baadbe67361bff0eb4b95a5d2ade3"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gjK8kjosZe8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>How will we connect with others professionally as social distancing continues? During this session, Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network; Natasha Green, Sr. Local Communities Manager at AnitaB.org Initiative; and Dee Poku-Spalding, Founder and CEO of WIE (Women: Inspiration and Enterprise) share their expert networking advice with Organized SHIFT CEO Landi Spearman.</em></p>
A five-step framework for addressing systematic racism at work
The world has changed in the past few weeks.
We're watching corporations and organizations across the world come out in support of Black lives in droves. Many of those organizations are doing so for the first time in their history.
Clyde's Kelly Hall Shares Tips for Moving from a Big Organization to a Startup and a Framework for Making the Decision
Kelly Hall broke a major rule of negotiation when she was interviewing for her current job at product protection startup Clyde.