Women in CybersecurityPROFILE - ZEINA ZAKHOUR
Atos – Vice President, Global CTO Digital Security
How long have you worked at Atos?
Who’s keeping count?
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I greatly appreciate the sense of purpose my job brings: We are making the digital world, and by association, the real world, a safer place. This has never been more true than today…
What do you enjoy most about the company?
I am proud to work in a company that walks the talk. The inclusive and diverse workplace provided by Atos is exceptional and fosters a culture of innovation that helps talent to emerge.
How did you get into cybersecurity?
I actually started my career in cybersecurity, and got to handle various cybersecurity job functions over the past twenty-one years. Naturally, cybersecurity back in the day was so different from today since it is a fast-changing industry that went through multiple transformational cycles of innovation. Even now, we see emerging cyber tech trends on a yearly if not quarterly basis. And this is exactly what I like about my job!
What are your hopes for women in cybersecurity in the future?
I would like us to see and hear from all the great minds in the cybersecurity industry. Which means we must put our women of Cyber in the spotlight. We have so many women that are transforming the cybersecurity industry as we speak, yet they are in the shadows! A quick look at the Agenda of so many cybersecurity conferences can be viewed as proof enough. If we act now, I truly believe that in the future we will see more girls choosing the STEM path and more women breaking the glass ceiling in cybersecurity.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias. What does that mean to you?
The theme is spot on! If we do not challenge gender stereotypes and discrimination, we will not be able to make gender equality a reality. When I look at the previous generations, I feel that they were robbed because they had so much potential but bias and discrimination cut their wings. Even those who managed to forge the way, we did not get to know them. How frustrating it was that we never learned in school about Ava Lovelace, Nicole-Reine Lepautre, Bletchley Park women, Hedy Lamarr, etc.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What didn’t I want to be when growing up?! 😊 First I wanted to be a reporter because I was born and raised in a country torn up by war and I wanted to shed the correct light on our dire situation. Then I wanted to become an archaeologist as I was fascinated by Phoenician & Roman culture (and yes I watched all Indiana Jones movies 😊). And finally I wanted to become an Astronaut. Believe it or not, all those childhood dreams did contribute to make me the cyber expert I am today.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Know your worth and never settle for less.