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Empowering Women to Lead in Cyber Security

29th Mar, 2023

When I first heard about the opportunity to join this year’s Empowering Women to Lead Cyber Security London and Southern England cohort, I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t know what this would entail, but I was also excited to develop my skills and become an inspirational leader.

I went into this programme with an open mind. Mainly, I was looking forward to learning useful skills to help me grow in the cyber security sector, becoming more confident as a consultant and networking with other women in the same field.

What did the Empowering Women programme entail?

The programme was over the course of three months. It was broken down into four parts: face-to-face workshops, 1-2-1 coaching sessions, mini group projects and a final presentation. We explored what it’s like to work in a male dominated industry and improvements that need to be made to attract more women. I quickly realised that ‘imposter syndrome’ is real and the women that I perceived as being very confident and strong have all felt like this. ‘You are not alone’ soon became my motto.

During our mini group project, we explored the why women do not enter the cyber security sector. Focus was on school leavers, career changes and the recruitment process. We discovered this field is diverse and flexible; however, it is still portrayed as a ‘male’ profession. Delivering our findings in front of a room full of people was something I found very challenging. I am so grateful that this programme pushed me to do this.

What did I gain from the Empowering Women programme?

There have been times throughout my career where I have questioned my abilities and if I belong here. I have never considered myself as a leader. Throughout the course I learned that I should go easy on myself. I have been a ‘leader’ in many aspects of my career, whether through mentoring colleagues new to the field or leading projects. The programme has empowered me to step out of my comfort zone and to build relationships with other women leaders in cyber security. It enables you to look deeper into a problem that you deem to be detrimental to yourself and find that it is something that many women, across all ages and backgrounds, face every day.

From everything I have learned there are elements that I have incorporated into my day-to-day role inside and outside of work. Focusing on different levels of listening and not listening for the sake of answering. Formatting an answer before they have finished speaking. Ensuring that I ask powerful questions; the ones that take a moment to think before answering.

The programme was very motivational. It functioned as a safe space to open up about our experiences, talk about issues we have and gain advice about how to deal with these from women I had only just met but admired greatly. Listening to leaders and their journeys was very inspirational. I feel honoured that Gemserv put me forward for this. For me it showed that they are interested in my future and equipping me with the tools to be the best version of me.

Authors

Shiguftah Malik

Senior Information Security Consultant

Read Bio