The nominations for the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber awards are out! It’s always wonderful to read about the incredible women in our industry, who are making fantastic contributions and paving the way for others.
In no particular order, here is PART II of the 2022 shortlist along with snippets of what their nominators had to say about them! (To see Part I, see HERE)
Carol Lee, program & SheLeads Tech director, ISACA Hong Kong chapter
Carol has a strong passion on cyber risk management and is a frequent public speaker to share her career journey and framework on how to drive a risk-centric culture change in an organization to the security community. In addition, her commitment to community contribution has also been demonstrated as a SheLeadsTech Director of ISACA China Hong Kong Chapter. She nurtures a group of SheLeadsTech committees and continuously promotes gender/thought diversity, job transformation from IT roles to security and female leadership development to address the severe security talent gap issue. She also joined as the ISC2 volunteer speaker to provide awareness education talks to the younger generation in Hong Kong primary and secondary schools.
“Carol’s story is a good role model for all global female security professionals, but for female leaders who try hard to balance family and work well. She actively shares her journey via the SheLeadsTech platform and speaking opportunities, which advise young females not to suffer from imposter syndrome and proactively attain the professional qualification to demonstrate their competency.”
Kim Maurer, Owner, CyberEye
Kim is a highly competent cyber security risk manager, and enthusiastic business leader with experience managing large teams, complex projects, contracts, task orders and personnel, with outstanding results. She is a cyber security policy and compliance thought leader with 17 years specialized experience in the development of IT security programs and IS risk management strategies and experienced cyber security consultant with a demonstrated success implementing security programs and compliance with PCI DSS, HIPAA, NIST RMF, and State and Local Elections Standards.
“Kim’s never ending support, positive guidance and endless energy makes her a dream to work with/for. She instructs without coddling, giving a push when needed and is first to celebrate and give credit for her staff’s accomplishments.”
Chloé Messdaghi, chief impact officer, Cybrary
For over ten years, Chloé has advised and developed impactful solutions that have driven growth and innovation while transforming businesses to become resilient. Her work has helped businesses unlock opportunities to enhance trust, mitigate risk, and become purpose-driven. In return, she has earned many distinctions, including being listed as a Power Player in Cybersecurity by Business Insider and SC Magazine.
Chloé serves as the Chief Impact Officer for Cybrary. Additionally, she continues to roll up her sleeves for many projects, such as the co-founder of We Open Tech and the Open Tech Pledge project to help increase opportunities and representation of marginalized persons in cybersecurity and tech. In addition, she provides an advice column for Ask Chloé on Security Boulevard, and hosts ITSP Magazine’s The Changemaking Podcast.
“Chloé has been crucial in the implementation of the overall projects and the projection of their growth. She is detailed in her strategies and a team player in the distribution of responsibilities… She has evolved and developed into an exceptional executive leader, being both inclusive and active. Chloé is hard working and supportive, as well as multi-talented and disciplined, and she does it all with great heart!”
Bianca Miclea, cyber threat intelligence manager, Fidelity International
Bianca has set up an internal women in cyber group, created a cyber threat intelligence function, volunteers in her spare time and finds time to coach and mentor industrial placement students. Created a cyber threat intelligence team and a “women in cyber” group within Fidelity International. This has involved idea sharing, CISO conversations, diversity and inclusion discussions etc. I feel this has supported a number of people who otherwise may have felt their voices were not heard.
“Bianca gives constant thought to others and focuses on improving their lives. She is compassionate, empathetic and driven.”
Illyana Mullins, head of operations and innovation, Hub 8
Illyana brings a passion for cyber security and a penchant for project management to help grow the Cheltenham cyber ecosystem, by creating strategic relationships and hosting unique cyber events. From putting on CTF aimed at people who have never done it, to inspiring women not to give up when the odds seem against them and also bringing back Cheltenham BSides and making it a continued success, she works hard to lower the barriers of entry to cybersecurity around the south west.
“Illyana is inspiring due to the fact that she can look at the infosec community and see what needs to be changed and has a drive and passion that I have not seen in anyone else.”
Sushila Nair, VP, NTT Data Services
Sushila has more than twenty-five years of experience as a thought leader, practitioner and presenter in information security. She has a strong background in audit and compliance. Notable leadership roles in business strategy development, sales enablement and product development including CISO, and other executive leadership positions with ongoing successes through a proven approach of mentoring, industry knowledge, and real-world experience.
“Sushila is perhaps one of the few women leaders in the cybersecurity space with this much experience and knowledge.”
Wendy Nather, head of advisory CISOs, Cisco
Wendy is the head of advisory CISOs at Duo Security, public speaker, and continuously works to spread awareness. Not only to users, but senior leadership, and importantly explain from a mature perspective how to effectively address security in our organisations. Wendy changes the discussion from security perfection, which is unachievable, to security resilience. Raising the bar, and ensuring that we have the right discussions, and focus on the right things. Wendy provides her knowledge to the community through targeted awareness campaigns, public speaking, thought articles and quotes on vital topics.
“Wendy is a mentor, and sponsor to ensure all persons get a voice in the discussion. I think her perspective allows us, as an industry, to set a fair tone. She talks about the security poverty line, and empowering organisations to make the right decisions for them.”
Sarah Norford-Jones, founder and CEO, YEO Messaging
Sarah’s business and app, YEO Messaging, is a secure, private messaging platform that uses continuous facial recognition to authenticate users. She is passionate about making the online world a safer place, with a particular passion for children’s privacy.
“Sarah is a very hard worker and never gives up. She is a role model for many already and I would like for this award to give her the platform to inspire more.”
Anne-Marie O’Donnell, cyber security consultant, BH Consulting
Anne-Marie completed her Masters in Applied Cyber Security and is passionate about computer security, working in the industry for the past 3 years. She is a keen participant in capture the flag hacking events and a regular attendee at security conferences nationally and internationally. Anne-Marie has an extensive administrative background but is now pursuing a career as a Cyber Security Consultant.
“Anne-Marie is still new to the industry, but wherever she is able she supports others by sharing her experience, connecting contacts, and ensuring people feel safe to learn and grow.”
Fausat Ogunsanya, solutions architect and team lead, NetCraftsmen
Fausat has over 20 years experience designing, implementing and supporting large scale multi-protocol network, security, and Internet Web traffic technologies for multiple organizations. She has the technical skills to undercover obscure issues or propose appropriate new designs. She also has managerial skills, and is a team lead within her current company, and with any customer she works with.
“Fausat is a self-starter that took the initiative to delve deeply into network security technologies. Her three best attributes are her technical proficiency in security, her work ethic, and her friendly personality.”
Paula Page, director of cyber, CCL Solutions Group
Paula started her journey in cyber 20 years ago as an office administrator, Paula worked night and day to prove herself being consistently told that without a computer science degree and as a woman, she would never make it in the industry. Paula continued to turn in good work and eventually made her way to the “bid management” team where she learnt about writing tenders and scopes for pen test. It was no surprise that she soon had the best results in the team and this led to a move to a larger company with more involvement in scopes and technical sales call gave her more and more knowledge and experience. Eventually an opportunity to start a new cyber business presented itself, she took a chance and backed herself. CLL cyber was built from the ground up but her roots have not been forgotten, she has mentored staff from Gap year at uni to CTL status insuring the cost of accreditation is never passed to the staff member, she runs workshops in schools to highlight pathways into cyber for girls from year 8 to year 13. She offers IT support to Ukrainian families who have been displaced by the war in their homeland and she works with charities that support young people who are being criminally exploited helping them see career pathways that can help them steer away from crime.
“Paula has worked her way to Director of cyber the hard way, She has dealt with knock backs, being overlooked, at times being actively targeted because “this was no job for a women” and despite this she has persevered for over 2 decades with a quiet professionalism, getting the job done and showing people she is to be judged by results.”
Gema Perez-Cortes, information security awareness lead, Canon Europe
Gema is absolutely brilliant at demystifying security. She focuses her every day on education, and how to ensure everyone is provided effective, tailored, learning – to raise the bar of security across the organisation. Gema works hard to ensure the message she sends is understood – which is impressive because she’s working across EMEA, so all her training has to be read/digested by a variety of cultures and languages.
“Having started in Spain, Gema has moved her career to another country, changing to working in English full time – which is impressive in itself. She continues to learn and grow, and is able to take the issue and build an effective story to help others learn. She’s also always willing to have a chat, and bounce ideas off of.”
Becky Pinkard, head of global cyber defence, Vodafone
Becky Pinkard is a renowned practitioner and commentator on the information security sector who has been working in information technology and security since 1996. A security transformation expert, Becky is experienced with business case preparation and execution through to funding and implementation. She has strong vendor management and relationship-building capabilities. Her background and experience to date has provided her with broad information security expertise, coupled with in-depth, technical capabilities around cyber security and data monitoring, vulnerability and risk assessment, web application security and policy development.
“Becky has leveraged her career and position to ensure persons of all backgrounds get a voice in the discussion.”
Caroline Rivett, partner, KPMG
Caroline works closely with KPMG’s clients in Life Sciences and Healthcare helping them to manage their cybersecurity and privacy risks to protect sensitive information and processes and run their businesses effectively. She is now a Cyber Partner leading the security and privacy team in Life Sciences. Prior to working with KPMG, Caroline co-founded and sold a health informatics company which analysed individuals’ medical records on behalf of UK life insurers.
“Caroline is an excellent leader – I have learnt so much from watching Caroline bring multiple teams together when faced with challenging situations to produce a solution. She always leads by example and is excellent to work for.”
Sarah Rolls, HR & governance, CyberCrowd
CyberCrowd offers everything from Assessment Services through to Pen Testing, CISOaaS, Certification Readiness, DPO services and our 24/7 x 365 Managed Security Operations Centre. Working with large enterprises, down to smaller boutique firms, CyberCrowd offers security services specifically designed to suit every level of organisation and sector.
“Sarah is a great mentor, she builds great teams and has strong cultural values.”
Zoe Rose, regional information security lead, Canon EMEA
Zoë Rose is a highly regarded hands-on cyber security specialist, who helps her clients better identify and manage their vulnerabilities, and embed effective cyber resilience across their organisation. Whilst retaining deep technical expertise, Zoë has extensive experience in designing and executing cyber security awareness programmes to help people become more aware of cyber threats and uplifting critical cyber security processes and ways of working. She also has experience in maximising the value and effectiveness of technical cyber security controls across a variety of programmes and industries.
“Zoë always has a smile on her face, she overcomes challenges every day with a smile on her face and she always makes time to help and recognize other co-workers and cyber security professionals. She is definitely INSPIRING.”
Suparna Roy, leader – cyber security & risk operations, TATA Advanced Systems Limited
Suparna has 15+ years of overall experience in Information Security with strong knowledge in Information Security Management System (ISMS) specific to ISO 27001 & ISO 9001. She also has experience in leading and supporting all aspects of the ISMS audit life cycle, working with stakeholders to produce ISMS status reports regularly and also to document corrective actions, track remediation and report progress. She conducts regular risk assessments and internal audits for current organisation.
“Suparna has been a mentor and role model for several cybersecurity professionals she has worked with, many of whom are well-established in the domain of cybersecurity and are achieving new heights. She has mostly remained an unsung hero outside her professional world, but her passion to support the community and her self-motivation continues to drive her towards carrying out her social responsibility as an individual and spreading her wisdom to make the digital world a safer place.”
Sonia Sanger, resilience & crisis manager, KPMG
Sonia heads the Women in Security initiative at KPMG UK. She strives to make a difference for all genders and races within cyber by championing all genders and races within cyber to achieve higher heights, take up space and shout about it. Sonia has a strong work ethic to keep on going in the face of adversity.
“She doesn’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t give up, she will flex where required, but she will always achieve, if not exceed the required results.”
Professor Lisa Short,
Professor Lisa Short is recognised as one of the top thought leaders and influencers in the world to follow for her work in digital tech, blockchain, crypto assets and EdTech. Lisa is a preeminent innovator, systemic change digital technology analyst, strategist & design ecosystem thinker with vast international experience founding & managing multiple companies and significant cutting-edge digital technology, value chain improvement projects, across different industry segments, and global markets including UK, APAC, Africa, Singapore, Europe & UAE.
“Lisa’s passion for making the cybersecurity community a better place to work in and be part of is an inspiration.”
Lena Smart, CISO, mongoDB
Lena is passionate about diversity in the technology community, and specifically the cybersecurity space. She believes that people come to cybersecurity from many paths and spends a lot of time investing in those who have interest and potential. At MongoDB, she has launched the Security Champions Program, identifying a member from every team internally (Legal, HR, Finance, Comms etc.) to make sure security is always top of mind. These individuals help extend and scale a security-first mindset across the company and help educate their colleagues on best-practices. Lena has also identified people who are part of this programme to bring into her team full time – 5 women in the year and a half it has been running.
“Lena doesn’t take the position she is currently in for granted in any way. She knows she has worked hard for it, but also would never deny it to any other woman working towards this position. She is willing to share and mentor, something that is often noted as missing in women who have ‘made it’. Additionally, she is always looking for feedback and guidance on things she feels are not her areas of expertise, which harkens back to her guiding principle – Learn, keep learning and teach others.”
Mel Stiffell, CISO, BP
Mel is a CISO in BP’s business information security, working tirelessly to protect the organisation from cyber attacks. She is an Inspirational leader with excellent interpersonal skills who uniquely combines business, commercial and deep technical skills as a critical thinker who finds innovative solutions.
“Very inspiring cyber security leader – technically strong, culture expert and incredible with people.”
Lynn Studd, director of BT’s Global Secure solutions
As Director of BT’s Global Secure Solutions unit, Lynn leads a team of over 800 specialists across the globe, working with the government community to protect their communications. Her team provides security solutions to critical public sector customers, with the responsibility for ensuring the resilience of their networks. She also works in partnership with those customers to securely adopt new digital transformation technologies, driving innovation and productivity gains. Alongside these responsibilities, Lynn takes a hugely active role in the development and diversity of people within BT’s Security team, supporting colleagues in numerous ways to help colleagues progress their careers.
“Lynn balances her professional responsibilities with a warm and friendly personality – making time to speak to her colleagues, understand their lives, and help them succeed.”
Jasmine Taylor, cybersecurity manager, KPMG UK
Jasmine independently leads high-quality red-teaming, penetration testing and other forms of advisory work to her clients. She also co-managed the Black Working Group in KPMG Cyber which produces research on diversity and inclusion challenges within the team and has performed pro-bono security assessments for charities and non-profits on top of her day job. Jasmine regularly visits universities to discuss careers in cyber with interested students as well as manages the department’s IT’s Her Future scheme which pairs senior mentors with women in Cyber to build their professional skills and confidence.
“Whilst the rest of us are just about managing 1 piece of work, Jasmine is able to balance multiple client engagements, pro-bono work, extra curriculars and mentoring responsibilities all at once!”
Lisa Ventura, founder, Cybersecurity Unity
Lisa Ventura is an award-winning cyber security consultant and the Founder of Cyber Security Unity, a global community and content platform which has been set up to help unite the industry and combat the growing cyber threat. Over the course of her career which spans over 24 years in infosec and cyber security she has worked with numerous cyber security organisations including the UK Cyber Security Council, CyBourn, Pinsent Masons, Titania Ltd, Proficio Inc, Boost Technology Group and more.
“Lisa has encountered significant challenges as a woman in the cyber security industry, yet she has overcome these challenges to create the highly successful entity Cyber Security Unity. She has overcome the most horrendous experiences of bullying and abuse from within the cyber security industry and now talks openly about her experiences to help others. I am in awe of her and her resilient nature.”
Patricia de Villa, head of identity, Union Digital Bank
Pats demonstrates exemplary leadership and she made significant contributions to her industry of Identity as part of Security. She has not only earned the respect of her superiors to rise as a business leader and role model, but she has also earned the admiration of her peers. She empowers and supports other women in her workplace. She emphasizes building honest relationships, values input, has the mindset of an entrepreneur, and leads by example.
“She is changing the landscape in which women serve. She is an up and rising star in the security space and creating an Identity standard that many will follow in the future. I expect her to become one of the first Chief Identity Officers in the industry in the future.”
Kathy Wattman, PR and marketing executive, KnowBe4
Kathy steps in from a PR and marketing point of view but has always pushed for innovative and unconventional methods to get the cybersecurity message out. She has nurtured a team of dozens of security awareness advocates who are on hand to provide valuable advice to both businesses and the wider public.
“With great leadership skills, passion and generosity, Kathy is an incredibly accomplished woman but will be the last one to shout about it.”
Anna Webb, head of security operations, Kocho
Anna is developing solutions that help Kocho’s customers to successfully plan and execute digital transformation programmes while at the same time tackle all the cybersecurity challenges that they will face along the way. For example, Anna has led the formation of the Security Operations Centre (SOC) at Kocho, based around the three key areas of people, process and technology. Not only has Anna built the team which is providing managed security services to Kocho’s many clients, she has established robust processes to deliver a collaborative, consistent and high quality service to all clients.
“During her career in cyber… Anna has showed great tenacity and grit. She has stuck it out even when often she was the only woman on the team and has been forced to overcome internal favouritism and ‘old boy network’ type culture in order to pursue her passion helping clients to overcome their cyber security challenges.”
Jo Westgate, cyber security manager, KPMG
Having undertaken a variety of different roles, spanning across both consultancy and industry, Jo has a background and a wealth of experience in Business & Operational Resilience, Identity Access Management (IAM) and Operational Support. Her key areas of expertise are Business & Operational Resilience including the design & development of tabletop exercises, Identity Access Management (IAM) and Data management and analysis.
“The kindest colleague within Cyber. She promotes women supporting women by living and breathing those values. A true ally. We need more women like Jo in Cyber.”
Sydonie Williams, focus group leader – cyber risks, Beazley
Sydonie is one of the leaders of Beazley’s employee resource group dedicated to women in the company. She is an active internal and external mentor, and with whatever free time she has, gets involved in many industry initiatives focused on helping to raise the profile of women in the industry and ensure that cyber and insurance is seen as a career of choice.
“Sydonie works incredibly hard to inspire women in the insurance industry… She is absolutely fantastic and a real asset to our company.”
Camilla Winlo, head of data privacy, Gemserv
Camilla holds a senior management role in Gemserv’s Cyber and Digital team (and is the most senior woman in the Cyber and Digital practice). She a proven thought leader in the data privacy space, having been frequently published in media and spoken at many events. She’s an example for all women in technology, and has made waves in the industry despite only being specifically data-privacy focused since 2019.
“Not only is she industry recognised, but she mentors and coaches others on her team, helping to develop them into leaders. Since joining Gemserv last year, Camilla has coached two of her five direct reports through the promotion processes to become principal consultants.”
Anne Woodley, enterprise security executive, Microsoft
In the past year, Anne has demonstrated her commitment and passion for diversity in cybersecurity. She continues to lead the Conversations with Women in CyberSecurity series of events from a Microsoft perspective, which has reached an audience of hundreds of women currently working in, or looking to enter, the security workforce. Anne founded the UK Microsoft Women in Security Group, focusing on attracting talent to Microsoft Security and also ensuring there is a visible community within Microsoft actively supporting diversity.
“Anne brings an energy that always inspires but also puts people at ease. She involves herself with topics she cares about at work but also in the industry…and continuously delivers for the business. They say if you want something done, you should give it to a busy person…Anne is that person. She is an inspiration!”
Karen Worstell, senior cyber security strategist, VMware
Karen is an industry recognized leader who has driven security initiatives as CISO for Microsoft, AT&T and Bank of America, in addition to her current role as senior cybersecurity strategist at VMware. As an author and industry luminary, Karen frequently contributes to various publications and speaks at global industry events on topics including security, innovation, creativity and strategies for improving representation and equity for women in the tech industry.
“Karen is incredibly open and vulnerable about her experience with extreme stress working in the cybersecurity industry in the hopes to warn others. She also showcases her resilience by understanding when she needed to take a break, but then returning to cybersecurity stronger than ever.”