Young Minds In Cybersecurity. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Why We Need A New Generation of Cyber Defenders

Young people eager to discuss jobs in security with cyber professionals

– Carmen Marsh,  CEO & Managing Partner, Inteligenca Inc.

Davis, Calif. – Jan. 28, 2019

A life of opportunities is what we all hope for, but almost always those doors open only when we’re willing to explore. We must keep looking for chances even when we think nothing exciting is about to happen because in life you never know what awaits you around the corner.

It’s critical that we encourage children and young adults to explore the infinite possibilities posed by technology and, particularly, cybersecurity. How do we expect our kids to dream if they don’t know what they can dream about? It is our job as adults to guide them and tell them everything we have learned from our experiences.

It was with excitement that I approached an opportunity to deliver a keynote address to 500+ students together with the Enov8 Conference at Sacramento State University. Enov8 provides students a more well-rounded view of jobs opportunities. Their mission is to give our broader exposure to the working world. They organize first-rate educational events for students so they can be inspired to choose career pathways that best match their abilities and passions.

Cybersecurity is more than a passion for me; it is a cause. We desperately need more people to consider a career in this ever-changing landscape. We need more workers — period. Especially when you consider that the cost of cybercrime will be $6 trillion dollars by 2021. We don’t have enough people now to deal with cybercriminals — and the workforce shortage will get worse. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs just three years from now. This is why every chance to add even just one more person to the infosec community is critical.

But security can be a tough sell. Many young adults with strong coding skills have ample opportunities, including lucrative and exciting prospects with social media platforms. Those who may not have developed those skills in high school or early in college often worry they have missed the boat and it’s too late to learn. It’s important to reach both those audience to “sell” a field that needs as many talented people as we can find.

Furthermore, we must draw new people from underrepresented communities, including minorities, veterans, and women. Women, which make up more than half of the world’s population, make up just about a fifth of the cybersecurity workforce. Addresses on college campuses offer one of the best chances to reach a diverse audience.

While I wished for a moment I had something that could win me instant street cred with my millennial audience — like free Netflix password, a band, free food, or even a great GIF — I stood before them with just a PowerPoint, a video of an interview, and hope their desire to get employed could buy me 30-45 minutes of their attention.

Not only were the students at California State University-Sacramento eager to discuss jobs in security, but they also wanted to hear about the need for diversity and how critical it is to recruit a gender-balanced and diverse team. And I was happy to share with them about 35 job categories and 150 different roles within those cybersecurity categories. I heard them gasp with excitement when I told them they could be making more than $200k per year as an application security engineer. Many in the crowd were surprised and pleased to learn you don’t necessarily need a computer science degree to find a rewarding job in cybersecurity.

The aforementioned video with Georgia Reed interviewing Robert Herjavec also helped. I guarantee you it resonated with them when he said, “If you choose a career in cybersecurity you will have a job for life.” And everyone knows Robert as one of the sharks on Shark Tank! He is a cybersecurity thought leader recognized by mass audiences — we need about 10 more like him who can hold their own on a stage with a Mark Zuckerberg. That is why we are going to reward the women trailblazers for their achievements in cybersecurity at the Cybersecurity Women of the Year Gala in Las Vegas this year.

The landscape in cybersecurity is changing, and that is why we need to change along with it. Those of us committed to careers in cybersecurity need to consider new ways to attract, recruit, and develop talent. We also must remove the barriers for many to enter the field, such as the cost of required certifications. That is why we have created the “100 Women in 100 Days” Cybersecurity Certification Program – designed to get 100 women trained and certified at no cost. As a testament to the interest in such a prospect, 60 women signed up within the first hour of the announcement — which was just a simple post on LinkedIn.  Imagine what we could do with a well-financed, all-out effort to educate our best and brightest at all ages about the well-paying and honorable jobs available in cyber defense?

To learn more about the Cybersecurity Women of the Year Awards or the 100 Women in 100 Days program, please contact me directly on LinkedIn.

– Carmen Marsh is CEO & Managing Partner at Inteligenca Inc. Carmen’s experience comes from leading global teams, projects, programs and companies in high-tech, retail, insurance and health care industries. Her career started in Silicon Valley, managing Jumbotron implementations for Sony Incorporated, and continued with leadership roles for dotcoms, including established companies such as SRI International, Trimble, USC Norris School of Medicine, and California Medical Association. She has been contributing to the success of companies for 20 years, with her genuine passion for continuous process improvements, coupled with focus on organizational efficiency and effectiveness. She brings her visionary, forward-focused, resilient, and intuitive business leadership to Inteligenca. Carmen has earned a degree from University of Gothenburg, Sweden.