Alta Associates and The Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy (EWF) has formed a partnership with The International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2.
The alliance aims to provide insights that will highlight cybersecurity workforce trends, explore the role of women in cybersecurity and shape policy decisions in enterprise, government, and higher education.
(ISC)2 is well-known as the think-tank behind the ‘Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS),’ a comprehensive global survey of information security professionals. For the past 12 years, the GISWS has tracked metrics on salary, hiring, retention rates, women in information security and cybersecurity industry trends. A follow on report, ‘Women in Security,’ co-authored by (ISC)2 and the Executive Women’s Forum, is expected soon.
The Hunt for Seasoned Cyber Talent Is On
The hunt for seasoned cybersecurity talent has seen a dramatic increase in the last two to three years, according to a recent special issue of search industry newsletter ESR devoted to cybersecurity. According to the Hunt Scanlon Media report, recruiters are finding a lack of qualified candidates just as companies put a greater emphasis and give a higher priority to corporate security. Earlier this year, Hunt Scanlon inducted 20 cybersecurity search specialists into its inaugural ‘Cyber 20‘ ranking, based on market reputation and dedication to finding best-in-class cybersecurity leaders.
“Cybersecurity is quickly transforming from an independent, corporate functional focus to a full-fledged, integrated business sector,” said Scott A. Scanlon, the report’s editor-in-chief and Hunt Scanlon founding chairman and CEO. “That’s the biggest change we’ve seen. It is, therefore, both an opportunity and tremendous challenge for recruiters dedicated to the sector.” Information security is the ultimate competitive advantage of the 21st century, said Mr. Scanlon. “The hunt for top-flight cybersecurity talent is therefore the crowing management challenge of our times.” Mr. Scanlon said high demand and a short talent supply line is leading to a ‘bidding war’ for cybersecurity talent throughout the security and risk sectors.
One Headhunter’s Focus on Women
Alta Associates has risen over the past 30 years to become arguably the most prominent boutique search firm specializing in the cybersecurity function. Its founding CEO, Joyce Brocaglia, is a highly sought-after strategic advisor to companies in the areas of information security, risk management and privacy.
In the following interview, Ms. Brocaglia discusses the evolution of the Executive Women’s Forum, what it offers and how it is helping to bring diversity into this fast growing sector.
Joyce, what’s the main purpose of the Executive Women’s Forum?
I founded the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy in 2002 with the goal of creating an organization that would provide a platform, venue and programs for women to be supported, encouraged and inspired by their peers. I’m proud to say that today we are the largest member organization serving emerging leaders as well as the most prominent and influential female executives in our field. Our core mission continues to be to engage, develop and advance women leaders in the information security, IT risk management and privacy industries. The EWF is committed to enabling women to achieve their professional goals and personal dreams, through education, leadership development and the creation of trusted relationships.
What do individual members and companies get from being part of the organization?
What’s unique about the EWF is that it provides tremendous benefits to the women members personally, their companies and the industry as a whole. We unabashedly provide women in our industry with a platform to have a voice, be inspired, take risks and support each other both personally and professionally. Women at every level of their career have opportunities nationwide to engage in activities throughout the year. Our members all participate as executives or professionals from a myriad of roles in cybersecurity, IT risk management, privacy, governance, risk, compliance, assurance and technology. They are CISOs, CROs, CIOs, CPOs, CEOs of security related start-ups, heads of security architecture, engineering, operations plus ones and high potentials that report to them. They participate in an online community, mentoring and leadership development programs, networking events and educational webinars. We have over 35 global companies who participate as corporate benefactors of the EWF and partner with us to achieve our mission. Our executive ambassadors who are CIOs, CISOs, and CROs host regional meetings at their companies throughout the U.S. that provide hundreds of EWF members as well as executives from their organizations a venue to be highlighted and to discuss best practices. Companies benefit from the benchmarking, best practices and education their members receive as well as from the recognition gained and relationships built.
Tell us about some of the scholarships that the Executive Women’s Forum provides?
The EWF is dedicated to supporting future women leaders in our field and we do so in many formal and informal ways. The Executive Women’s Forum, in partnership with the Information Networking Institute (INI) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has been providing scholarships for a Masters of Science degree since 2007. Not only have we enabled nine remarkable women to obtain an MS degree, we have mentored them as a part of our community and continue to assist them with internships, job offers, advice and friendship. In 2012, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Executive Women’s Forum, the Joyce Brocaglia Fellowship at INI was created. We are proud that this endowed fellowship will also continue the legacy of developing future generations of women leaders in technology. For the past two years, the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) and Black Hat have awarded the Future Female Leaders Scholarship to 50 female university students who demonstrate a passion for information security as well as a proven history of related experience and coursework. Each recipient receives a full academic pass to the Black Hat USA conference, which is renown in the information security industry. The EWF also created a program called the Cybersecurity School Challenge in which participants have educated over 100,000 kids on how to be safe online.
What types of events does the Forum hold, who attends and what is discussed?
The EWF hosts numerous events and programs throughout the U.S. all through the year, including regional meetings, networking diners and meet & greets. We are probably best known for our annual conference that gathers over 400 women thought leaders in our industry together. Here’s a highlight reel from our 2014 National Conference that will give you a sense of why companies and members value the EWF conference and community. This year’s 14th Annual National Conference, ‘Balancing Risk & Opportunity: Transforming Cybersecurity, Risk & Privacy Beyond the Enterprise,’ will be in Scottsdale AZ. Attendees will participate in general and break-out sessions including TED talks, interactive scenarios, live hacks and learn from industry experts and inspirational speakers. Attendee testimonials praise this conference as a must attend event and cite it as the most inspiring, energizing and informative conference that they look forward to attending each year.
What is the biggest obstacle women face within the cybersecurity sector?
I believe that the unconscious and conscious bias that many women in technology face is also a challenge for women in cybersecurity. Since women only account for 10 percent of the total population, it’s incredibly important for women to support other women and lift them as they rise in the field. It is also important for men in the field to recognize and sponsor high potential and high performing women. The EWF has been giving women a voice in this industry and caring about women in our field long before it became popular to lean in. Over the past 15 years I have seen great strides taken by men in the field who are recognizing the importance of diversity of thought and are taking positive steps forward in their efforts to hire and develop women on their teams. Having said that there still remains a huge problem of women opting out mid-career. I believe one of the best ways to solve this dilemma is to provide leadership development programs along with executive sponsorship much earlier on in a woman’s career. That’s why we created the Leadership Journey, a comprehensive year-long leadership development program that focuses on developing the resiliency, grit and confidence that women need to thrive and excel in their career. Companies who implement this program for both women and minorities are seeing increased engagement, sponsorship and retention of diverse leaders.
Why has the sector been so male dominated?
Like all technology fields, information security is male dominated. Unfortunately, the last ‘Global Workforce’ study conducted by (ISC)2 shows that from 2013 to 2015 the number of women in cybersecurity decreased from 12 percent to 10 percent. The EWF is committed to increasing the number of women in our field and to that end we will be co-authoring the ‘Women in Security’ study next year. This study along with some follow up research we have planned will help the industry to recognize trends and implement programs to further the development, advancement and retention of women in positions of leadership.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media and Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media