The IT Security Guru’s Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards aims to shed a light on the remarkable women in our industry. The following is a feature on just one of the many phenomenal women put forward for the 2021 awards. Presented in a Q&A format, the nominee’s answers are written in their own words with minor edits made by the editor for readability.
This year, the awards are sponsored by KPMG and Beazley.
Anne Woodley, Security Specialist at Microsoft
What does your job role entail?
As a Security Specialist, I have the opportunity to work with many different organisations to understand their cybersecurity challenges so we can work together to find the best solutions.
How did you get into the cybersecurity industry?
Fifteen years ago, before cybersecurity was a fully identified technology category, I worked for an online backup and photo-sharing company that was acquired by what was then known as an anti-virus company. This was the start of the burgeoning field which became known as cybersecurity.
Imagine my thrill at having the opportunity to witness the emergence of a brand new technology industry! I quickly became obsessed with the complexity of ever-changing threats and the growing intelligence and solutions available to protect companies, consumers, and countries.
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech/cyber industry and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I continue to face is how to balance my ambition against what brings me joy in life. I have had many demanding, global roles, which I’ve loved, several of which forced me to detrimentally prioritise work above all else. With experience and maturity, I have learned sometimes it’s important to have the courage to reset and step back, confident in the realisation that I will always be successful at whatever I chose to do.
What are your top three greatest accomplishments you have achieved during your career so far?
- Tasked with introducing a brand new technology into a new and extremely unique market, which I had no experience in, nor cultural knowledge of. With my deep technical understanding, I fostered numerous strategic partnerships and built a successful line of businesses that exceeded all company expectations as well as my own.
- I harnessed the tremendous opportunity to develop the winning security architecture and sales strategy for my company’s largest global account and was invited to present it at our global security sales kickoff in front of thousands of my colleagues.
- Everybody faces a variety of challenges in both their careers and personal lives. I am not any different. Being in a senior global sales role requires strong interpersonal and communication skills. I have what some might consider a unique obstacle. You see, I am visually impaired with a progressive disease that presents daily challenges and yet has driven me to seize every opportunity in front of me, whether I can see it or not.
What are you doing to support other women, and/or to increase diversity, in the tech/cyber industry?
Supporting others to embrace an exciting career in cybersecurity, and sharing my passion for the industry, is very important to me. I was honoured to be the global lead for the Attract Pillar at my company and was tasked with leading a group to attract women to work for the organisation in cybersecurity.
I am a passionate mentor to BAME undergraduates at my organisation, guiding them as they make their initial decisions in their careers.
As a Board Committee Member for the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), I am consistently advocating for the inclusion and diversification of sight-impaired people in the industry.
As a Trustee of CITA, one of the important parts of the charity to me is how we connect former military personnel re-entering the civilian workforce with technology industry mentors.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls/women looking to enter the cybersecurity industry?
Embrace the reality that your gender is irrelevant and what you do in your career is based 100% on your fearlessness, tenacity, and curiosity.