A former supervisor once told me my biggest problem is I always want to make things better. When I see a problem I want to solve it, and I think isolation is a problem we can solve. At last year's EWF Conference, keynote Nuala O'Connor Kelly from GE suggested we should "lift as we rise." That statement had such a momentous impact on me I devoted the last year to working with Claire McDonough from Google and Beth Dunphy from IBM to develop a mentoring and peer program called Lift.
Life is designed to help women from the Executive Women's Forum who work in information security, risk management, and privacy build a network of contacts. The trial program was running within six months, and more than 90 women recently registered for the full launch -- only one year after the idea bloomed. In addition, I was inspired to create the Cheer program of quarterly networking dinners in four major cities -- Washington, D.C., New York, the San Francisco Bay area, and Seattle -- to help women nurture their network throughout the year. The first dinner was held within one month of the idea, and now, one year later, we are in the process of developing the first international Cheer group.
What advice would you give to those in considering security as a profession, or who are in security but want to take their career to the next level?
Choosing information security as a career is exciting because the level and pace of change are increasing rapidly. If you are just starting out, take time to write a purpose statement for your life. I have known my purpose for some time, but never actually wrote it down until earlier this year. Now I have a gauge for my career decisions and am encouraged to live out my purpose a little bit each day. That would be valuable information to have early in your career.
For those desiring a move to the next level, I think you need three things -- perspiration, inspiration, and a strong network. Identify two or three positions that interest you and then develop a strategy to work toward one of them. Find a good mentor who can give you feedback about experience or certifications, evaluate positions you are considering, and coach you on your career path. In addition, focus on building a strong network within the industry. Most job opportunities still get passed along through contacts. Even if you do not want to move up at the moment, those contacts will be invaluable when you are stumped by a difficult decision about a risk or a tool.
What valuable advice have you received along the way in your career?
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.