Women in Cybersecurity
Kela – VP of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships
Where do you work?
How long have you worked here?
What do you enjoy most about your job and company?
I love that we have a great mix of talent and cultures. Our CEO has set the standard that we should hire people who are right for the job. I am impressed that 40% of our organization and 80% of our Cyber Intelligence Center are women. Kela has given me the opportunity to not only work with great people at the company but the opportunity to work with customers and partners who have the same goals.
The cybercrime underground is so fascinating to me. I am continually surprised to see the terrible things that criminals do, and how they harm organizations and innocent people. It feels great being part of a community that is trying to stop cybercrime.
How did you get into cybersecurity?
It was a natural progression for me. I was hired to work at MCI selling local services to enterprise customers. I was hesitant about pursuing a career in technology because it intimidated me. That said, I realized this was a great opportunity for me to leverage my relationship skills and expand my value by learning about this growing industry. After a year, I promoted to a Global Account Manager to support a large New England Financial company. It allowed me to use my relationship skills in a way that I had never done before and learn about network and data center technology. I saw a major shift in the need for security due to growth of the internet, advanced technology, and the evolution of cloud. I gravitated toward Cyber and was determined to learn as much as I could about it. Threat Intelligence was the most intriguing area of Cyber Security to me, particularly the Cybercrime Underground. I learned about Kela and the uniqueness of the company and I wanted in.
What are your hopes for women in cybersecurity in the future?
I hope that more women have an opportunity to work for a company like mine that encourages women in Cyber. We need more people in this growing industry and women can bring such value to these organizations. I was the only woman at the table for a long time and this has truly shifted. I also hope that more women celebrate their own victories, no matter how small or large. When I was younger in business, I would be upset if I did not get a pat on the back or a high five for doing something that I thought was impactful. I learned that I need to celebrate my own successes. This has allowed me to build my confidence and advance my career.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. What does that mean to you?
I feel this is about equal say, equal pay, and equal opportunity for all employees. There has been significant progress made since I started my career, but there is more work to be done.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An Archeologist/Anthropologist. I grew up in the Catskills and loved exploring the area to find artifacts from years prior. We searched abandoned buildings-camps, schools, and even a small town. It was so fun for me to imagine what society was like based on the things we found. Funny that I ended up at a place that gathers intelligence and tells a story.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Never say, “I can’t”. Growing up, I competed in gymnastics and I would tell my coach “I can’t” when he wanted me to try a new difficult move. My coach would have me do wall sits as a result until I got up enough courage to try those moves. Most of the time I was able to add that move to my routine, but even if I failed, I could hold my head up knowing I tried my best. It taught me to always try things that feel uncomfortable and out of reach. Walking away and saying “I can’t” may result in missing out on something amazing!
Who is your female hero and why?
Serena Williams. Serena is an incredibly strong woman both on and off the court. Her physical strength is impressive but what is even more impressive is her mental strength. I play tennis and while it is a physical sport, the mental part is what wins or loses matches. Serena won her last grand slam title while pregnant and she is 1 of 6 women to return to tennis after having a baby. Serena uses her success to fight for equal pay for women in tennis. Off the court, she is a self-made woman and owns a venture firm that focuses on funding companies founded by women and minorities. She also gives back to communities locally and globally. She never forgot where she came from and is determined to give people opportunities to move out of bad situations. Her determination to give other’s opportunities to overcome obstacles is truly admirable. Serena is powerful and fearless and has only just begun to show us what she is capable of.