Cybersecurity, one of the fastest growing technology fields today, marked by a zero percent unemployment rate, with a significant shortfall of talented professionals, surprisingly has only 11% of the workforce represented by females globally, a statistic that has been stagnant since 2013. As industry leaders continue expansion efforts in recruitment of key talent, here are 3 highly influential women that are not only changing the landscape of cybersecurity but blazing a trail for others to follow in their footsteps.
Ann Delenela is currently the Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of Amaren, a Fortune 500 corporation. The company has a total of approximately 8500 employees that provide energy services to 2.4 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers spanning 64,000 square miles across Illinois and Missouri.
She is no stranger to the cybersecurity field and has gained respect in her previous roles including, Chief Security Officer of ERCOT, Director of Critical Infrastructure Security at ERCOT, Information Security Manager at ERCOT, and Principal Consultant/Technical Manager at Internet Security Systems. Delenela is considered an expert in security strategy, information technology, information security, and cyber/physical security management. She also has technical and managerial experience in energy, telecommunication, software development and consulting.
Ann has her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and holds the CISSP, CRISC, and CISM certifications. This is where you can start your journey to leading the cybersecurity field. With the online BS in Cybersecurity at Utica College, you can choose from 5 different specializations to pick the right program for you. Delenela says, “Leadership is not about a title, it is about influence. You can influence without a title or lead without a title by being a subject matter expert and collaborator.” To her, being a leader in the cybersecurity field is about being willing to step out of your comfort zone.
Chandra McMahon is making her mark on cyber as the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of Verizon Communications Inc. Verizon is one of the largest communication technology companies with more than $126 billion in annual revenues and 163,000-plus employees worldwide.
Her previous roles include various positions at Lockheed Martin such as, CISO, VP of Comm ercial Markets, and Director of the Center of Leadership Excellence. She has also been President of LMC Properties, a Lennar Company. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research as well as a master’s degree in Engineering Science. She specializes in missions, operations, government systems, coding, database management, verifications and requirements, and testing.
She has become a leader in the field by staying curious and willing to take on a challenge. She is quoted saying, “I love the security field, love the challenges it presents in terms of working with new and emerging technologies and would like to see more women in information security.” When asked about what advice she has for women entering the field, she said, “Take risks! When you look for that next career opportunity, look for a situation where you have about 70% of the knowledge and tools needed, and go in knowing that developing that last 30% is what will make the job fun and exciting.”
Meredith Harper leads her field as the Chief Information Privacy and Security Officer at Henry Ford Health System. Henry Ford Health System is a not-for-profit corporation and one of the nation’s leading health care providers. Comprised of more than 1,200 physicians in over 40 specialties, it’s also one of the largest group practices.
Harper built her background in various past roles including, being a HIT Commission Member, a Faculty Member at Clearwater Compliance LLC., Chair of the Michigan Healthcare Cybersecurity Council, National Privacy & Security Committee member of HIMSS, President of the Board at Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, Vice Chairperson of the Michigan Healthcare Cybersecurity Council, and the HIPAA Project Manager at Health Alliance Plan. Her past positions were supplemented by her bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, a master’s in Health Services Administration, as well as a degree in Health Law.
In a podcast interview with Diva Tech Talk, Harper advises women aspiring for a leadership role in tech to, “Recognize that you will fail. Spin that failure into a ‘life lesson’ you can use, moving forward. Learn from it; move on to the next thing.” Above all, she says: “Know that you can do this.”
These and many other women in cybersecurity continue to blaze the trails not only with professional expertise and leadership but also in their mentoring interests and strong advocacy for recruiting more women to the information technology and cyber security fields of study. To learn more about the educational opportunities in cybersecurity, click here.