There are millions of cybersecurity roles around the world
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Christine Gadsby, Vice President, Product Security at BlackBerry
Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
As Vice President of Product Security at BlackBerry, I’m responsible for ensuring the company’s software supply chain is protected. This includes a broad scope of responsibilities, such as the security posture of software, how security is built in at the design phase, and advisory communications. I’ve been with BlackBerry for nearly 14 years and previously worked for Microsoft as a senior security organisational development consultant.
Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
I fell in love with the technology industry unexpectedly. By the time I enrolled in college, I was a single mom of two and had to work two jobs while taking care of my daughters full-time. My college counsellor recommended getting a degree in technology, the internet, or criminal justice—things she said would “never go away.” So I got a degree in information technology and business management. I ended up being exposed to cybersecurity “by accident” while working in a different role in IT. I fell in love with cybersecurity and have never looked back. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Have you ever been in a situation where gender has affected the way you have been perceived or treated in the technology industry? How did you handle the situation?
Absolutely, unfortunately, it’s relatively common. I’ve learned it’s better to be patient and work to influence perceptions rather than get angry or react poorly. Honestly, that causes friction and doesn’t help solve the problem. I also find that the subconscious bias is real. I have actually had some senior male leaders approach me and ask how I can help this. It’s important to remember that the answers aren’t obvious. Conversations are essential.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The best part of being a woman in the tech industry is to know that I’m contributing to greater diversity in perspectives, experiences, and leadership. I also realise I have an opportunity to influence and inspire other women to work in cybersecurity. The more women we can support and encourage entering the tech space, the more we can broaden the view of the industry and fill the talent gap.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
There are millions of cybersecurity roles around the world that are unfilled, and there simply aren’t enough cybersecurity experts on the global market to effectively do the work that needs to be done to manage the growing cyber risks out there. We find that professionals with strong backgrounds in AI and ML are always in high demand yet relatively difficult to find.
We notice the lack of women in the cybersecurity workforce and need to move quickly to address this gender gap. I think it starts with sparking interest in the field at a young age. We hope that by the time young women start looking at the next level of their education, they’ll gravitate toward higher education institutions that offer AI and cybersecurity as a dedicated discipline.
At BlackBerry, we partnered with the Girl Guides of Canada to create the Digital Defenders program, aimed at getting girls interested in cybersecurity as a future career path from a young age. We also strive to attract top talent in as many forums as possible to recruit the best and brightest to help us further our work in AI, cybersecurity, and the transformative automotive technologies that will drive our future.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known before starting your career in the technology industry?
My advice is to find your passion; it will never be a job. Even if you don’t want to be deeply technical, the industry needs expertise in many areas that are interested in technology, such as finance, human resources, and sales. The opportunities are endless. Learn a high level of technology, then dive into what you are passionate about and become an expert.
Also read: Digital literacy is the ability to comprehend and integrate the vast sources of information available
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