I would say the biggest challenge facing women in security professions today is related to leadership style differences from their male counterparts. The security field is a highly technical, analytical and gadget filled industry. Communication often occurs with these core concepts in mind...we talk widgets and data trends as well as bits and bytes. All good stuff. However, I believe, and I always have, there is another dimension to a good security leader which is to know how to take people with these excellent, data focused mentalities and drive them to be less about gadgets and more about business awareness and further to that personal and cultural awareness.
The self-aware female leader is more likely to lead her team through a combination of culture analysis, gut interpersonal feel and empathy. These are not foreign concepts in business leadership overall -- but in security it seems that that highly focused right brain mentality shirks from that view due to the potentially uncomfortable nature of the dialog. This does not benefit our field and while it is probably one of the hardest parts of being a women in security, this is also our greatest strength and largest differentiator. So I say embrace it and expand on it.
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?
I would say that security is such a large and complex field that the best place to start is to understand what drives you. What makes you happy? What doesn't? What are you good at? What are you not? Personally I know that I am at my most happy and effective when I am driving teams and cultures through positive change to a larger vision while remaining effective in the little things and my relationships. I know that I am not good in maintaining the status quo. If you know yourself and your interests, you will be able to choose the right roles in the industry that fit what I call your personal happiness profile.
Once you are aware of what this looks like for you -- and if you stay true to it -- you will have the ability to not only choose the right path at the right time, but to know how and when to make the leap for the next level.
What valuable advice have you received along the way in your career?
The best advice I ever got in my career was after a very eye opening 360 review. I felt sure that I knew how I was viewed by others and that I would 'score high' (which is not the point -- but those of us who have what a friend of mine calls an 'overdeveloped sense of responsibility' think like that). What I found out was that yes, people thought I was good at my job, and yes they liked working with me.
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