Organised by Eskenzi PR in media partnership with the IT Security Guru, the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards aim to shed light on the remarkable women in our industry. The following is a feature on one of 2022’s Top 20 women selected by an esteemed panel of judges. 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 and where relevant, supplemented with additional commentary by their nominator.
This year, the awards are sponsored by Beazley, BT, KPMG and KnowBe4.
Lena Smart, CISO, MongoDB
What does your job role entail?
Securing MongoDB’s data as well as our customers’ data.
How did you get into the cybersecurity industry?
Like many of us, by accident, many years ago. I identified a problem that needed to be solved at my organisation, I solved it and have never looked back.
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech/cyber industry and how did you overcome it?
Not having a seat at the table. So I built my own table!
What are your top three greatest accomplishments you have achieved during your career so far?
First CISO at the New York Port Authority. First CISO at Tradeweb. First CISO at MongoDB.
What are you doing to support other women, and/or to increase diversity, in the tech/cyber industry?
Getting out there and talking at conferences, on blogs and podcasts, about how women are changing the face of this industry. At the same time, advocating and mentoring women at my own organisations. We have to do this work on multiple fronts.
Her nominator adds:
“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 also devotes her time to mentoring other female security experts, helping them navigate their career in a male dominated industry and constantly encourages them to be learning.
Lena is humble, encouraging and willing to invest her time to bring her passion for cybersecurity to whoever she is talking to – be that another CISO or a non-technical coworker.”
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls/women looking to enter the cybersecurity industry?
Do it. It might be hard work, but nothing can stop you.