12 Apr GE Aviation’s Security Leader Is A Shining Star For Young Women In Cyber
Deneen DeFiore taught herself how to code and now she pays it forward
Northport, N.Y. – Apr. 12, 2019
As SVP and chief information and product security officer, DeFiore oversees all aspects of security for the business portfolio at GE Aviation, a company that has over 55,000 employees in 80 sites around the globe.
DeFiore often refers to airplanes as flying networks that operate within a large-scale cyber ecosystem. “There’s so much capability in software on the planes now,” says DeFiore, “and they have to constantly exchange data and communicate with the systems, not only on the plane but with the ground and supporting systems as well.”
Her path to cyber-chief at GE Aviation is unlike that of most people. She initially studied biology and got into IT by accident. While interning at a healthcare system, she worked on a project to transfer paper-based records to digital ones. “I really found that I liked the technology more than the operations,” she says.
So what happened after? “I taught myself to learn to code,” DeFiore says. From there, she took on a variety of IT roles from systems administration to managing middleware and databases and web applications to ERP systems. It’s safe to say that DeFiore did a little bit of everything at the beginning of her career. During this time, DeFiore “just kept learning and learning and learning.” And this foundation serves her well.
Spending over 20 years at one company is not too common in today’s workforce. She credits the vast scope of GE Aviation as the reason for doing this. “Being in a company that solves some of the world’s biggest challenges, you were forced to evolve and change. We have to innovate and continue to invent the future to stay relevant. I never really felt like I had to leave to find the next big thing,” says DeFiore.
The acts of constantly improving her skills and educating herself set DeFiore down the path to cyber leader. Now, in her position, she pays it forward by co-leading GE Girls, a summer camp that’s specifically designed to teach young women about STEM-based careers.
“I think it’s really important to get young women and girls exposed to cybersecurity and technology in general,” says DeFiore. “We’re exposing hundreds of girls across the globe each summer to cybersecurity. I definitely think that building that pipeline is something that everybody really needs to think about.”
DeFiore doesn’t just stop there when it comes to promoting women in cybersecurity. She participates actively in the Executive Women’s Forum, which she describes as one of the largest associations for women in privacy, security and risk. And she advises young girls to look into cybersecurity because it’s not all about coding and the guy in the hoodie. In fact, she’s proud of the fact that she doesn’t even own one.
Cybersecurity is the perfect career for DeFiore because of its dynamic nature. “I personally love to be challenged, solve messy problems, and do things that people haven’t done before,” says DeFiore. “We get that chance every day in cyber. It’s a new world. Things change, threats evolve, and you have to run with it.”
– Steven T. Kroll is a public relations specialist and staff writer at Cybercrime Magazine.
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