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International Women’s Day 2022: Celebrating Sophos Women in Tech

Hear from 19 cybersecurity pros worldwide about women in tech

To salute International Women’s Day 2022 on March 8, Sophos is celebrating all the talented women here around the globe. This year’s theme is “Break the Bias”, which encourages us to call out gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping when we see it. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead and we continue to focus on how to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, where difference is valued and celebrated.

Here at Sophos, we believe that diversity, combined with excellence, builds a better company. Diversity strengthens our teams and results, and we continue to strive to improve our gender identity diversity at Sophos.

Among the charities to which Sophos is making donations in connection with International Women’s Day are:

We spoke to 19 of our cybersecurity professionals about their backgrounds in the industry, their biggest accomplishments and challenges, and what piece of advice they would give to other women interested in starting a career in tech. Here are excerpts on what they had to say.

 

 

Name: Jasmine Catalan

Position: Team Lead, Delivery, IT Applications

Location: Makati City, Philippines

 

 


Q: What advice would you give other women pursuing a career in tech? 

A: Don’t be intimidated. Some women may feel reluctant to enter technology careers because they’re afraid they don’t have enough technical skills and knowledge. However, having curiosity is the top reason one will succeed in IT. Inquisitiveness will inspire you to identify the problems and dig out the root causes.

 

 

 

Name: Ujjwala Murthy

Position: Director, Technical Project Management, NSG

Location: Bangalore, India

 

 


Q: Are there any educational courses or resources that you would advise other women to do when pursuing a career in tech?

A: There are so many formal and informal programs that include degrees, certifications, books and online courses for all technologies. There is so much content available, the challenge is to pick the right ones. Go for ones which are recognized, and which award a degree or certification.

 

 

 

Name: Donette Jordan

Position: MSP/CSP Channel Account Manager

Location: Dallas, United States

 

 

Q: What would you like to see change in our industry for developing and supporting women to pursue careers in tech?

A: To develop and support more women into careers in tech, I believe we need to see more women being featured and celebrated, not just for International Women’s Day. As women, we have the power to change the narrative of this being an industry for men by becoming more vocal, increasing our visibility, and by mentoring girls and young women into this career field.

 

 

 

Name: Elizabeth Sworder

Position: Team Lead, Software Development

Location: Abingdon, United Kingdom

 

 

Q: Did you face any barriers or challenges in your journey into tech?

A: My biggest barrier was not knowing that a career in tech was an option. At school, IT lessons consisted of making PowerPoint slides with cool animations, certainly nothing to do with coding. It was fortunate that my maths degree included a computing project in the first year, although it would take me a couple more years before I saw it as a possible career choice.

 

 

Name: Sarvani Surenene

Position: Technical Account Manager, Technical Support

Location: Ottawa, Canada

 

 

 


Q: How has Sophos helped and supported you to develop your career tech?    

A: I was already a network tech. From the beginning of my career, Sophos helped me to explore and learn network security, which I believe is an added value to my professional career. Sophos invests a lot into the development of an employee by constantly keeping us trained and providing the resources required to ensure we’re able to perform at our best technically.

 

 

 

Name: Daniela Stolz

Position: Director, Marketing

Location: Wiesbaden, Germany

 

 

Q: Did you face any barriers or challenges in your journey into tech?

A: I studied business administration and had work experience in retail and banking. I didn’t have an IT background before I started my career in IT. When I started my first job in the IT industry as head of online marketing, I was already thinking about whether I would be able to cope in the IT industry. I just went for it, and today I’m very happy about it.

 

 

Name: Julie Davila

Position: Senior Director, Application Security, Cybersecurity

Location: Burlington, United States

 

 

 


Q: What do you like most about having a career in tech?

A: It feels very safe. If I were to get laid off, decide that I don’t like the company I work for, or simply feel like working somewhere else, it’s very easy to find work in any geographical region (or remote). This is a powerful position to be in and affords me a feeling of stability that doesn’t exist in many other career paths.

 

 

 

Name: Himani Bhayana

Position: Senior Sales Operations Analyst

Location: New Delhi, India

 

 


Q: What advice would you give other women pursuing a career in tech?

A: Don’t be intimidated, talk to people, teach yourself, follow good people, find a good mentor, and don’t let fear stop you from trying something new in tech. Big life changes can be scary, but fear doesn’t mean you’re going in the wrong direction.

 

 

 

Name: Alana Montanez

Position: Manager, IT Applications

Location: Abingdon, United Kingdom

 

 

 

Q: Are there any educational courses or resources that you would advise other women to do when pursuing a career in tech?

A: I would suggest getting involved with fellow peers (i.e. professional meetups) or becoming a member of a professional organization related to your field (i.e. PMO, IIBA, WIT, AITP). Also, LinkedIn Learning has some excellent courses that have helped me prep and successfully pass certifications.

 

 

 

Name: Chand Teckchandani

Position: Senior Software Engineer

Location:  Burlington, United States

 

 


Q: 
What would you like to see change in our industry for developing and supporting women to pursue careers in tech?

A: I don’t think in the current world women need any support to pursue a career in tech. I think the world has become an open platform with equal opportunities. It’s on women now to choose and show the world what that they can do. However, one change that I would love to see is more women in lead roles. I have seen so many women in tech careers but very few reach the top. I would love to know their journey, what blocks them from growing, and what obstacles they face.

 

 

Name: Miriam Tailliar

Position: Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition

Location: Wiesbaden, Germany

 

 

 

Q: How has Sophos helped and supported you to develop your career tech?    

A: I started as an individual contributor role and Sophos has given me the confidence and the space to grow my skills. I was also allowed to make mistakes, and this is essential to develop your skills. Sophos provided me with necessary trust and helped me to grow to a senior manager.

 

 

Name: Dancy Xia

Position: Senior Software Developer

Location: Vancouver, Canada

 

 

Q: Did you face any barriers or challenges in your journey into tech?

A: The biggest challenge is the work life balance. As a wife and mother, a woman plays a vital role in family life, offering children both mental and physical care, and the children always want their mother to spend more time with them. Pursuing a career in IT means you need to always learn and keep pace with the growing technology. This takes time too. How to efficiently get things done and how to prioritize things is an art.

 

 

 

Name: Kayla Petrocco

Position: Channel Account Manager, Sales

Location: Sydney, Australia

 

 


Q: What do you like most about having a career in tech?

A: That each day is different; I am presented with new tasks, challenges and constantly building relationships. The fast-paced nature of my role keeps me on my toes and at the end of day, I have always achieved something – whether it’s receiving a purchase order, helping a customer move one step closer to enhancing their security, or helping my peers. It’s also exciting when events like WannaCry make the news headlines and I know that I have been able to help businesses ensure they are protected against threats like that.

 

 

 

Name: Avni Wala

Position: Principal Software Engineer

Location: Bangalore, India

 

 

Q: What advice would you give other women pursuing a career in tech?

A: In the tech industry, it is very easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day mundane activities and forget what you are passionate about. So, I would advise you to only work on things that YOU LOVE. Neither you nor your employer will benefit if you are spending 8+ hours a day on something that you do not like!

 

Name: Susan Sung

Position: VP, Financial Analysis & Planning

Location: Burlington, United States

 

 


Q: Did you face any barriers or challenges in your journey into tech?

A: When I first joined there wasn’t as much information on tech and SaaS business models. Companies were still trying to figure it out. I remember thinking back to my Amex experience and thinking that I had done a user forecast before with Amex card members and it was really the same concept but with a different value proposition. I’m happy to see that there has been content and tool creation and proliferation of that information and it’s just a google search away.

 

 

Name: Laura Monolo

Position: EMEA Payroll Specialist

Location: Milan, Italy

 

 

 

Q: What do you like most about having a career in tech?

A: The tech industry focuses on breaking new ground. Professionals in the tech sector are embedded in a culture of growth and advancement. A tech working environment allows for new and inventive concepts to take shape and develop.

 

 

 

Name: Shiva Farahani

Position: Senior QA Engineer

Location: Vancouver, Canada

 

 

Q: What advice would you give other women pursuing a career in tech?

A: Understand and explore the industry – there is more than one role in tech and so many different avenues you can go down. Build and expand your technical knowledge; this will be your foundation. Fill any gaps through courses, workshops, and tech events. The more technical acumen you have, the more confident you will be in your career. Keep a positive mindset and believe in yourself and your skills. Never assume that you will be treated different to others in the industry; being on the edge will reduce your confidence. Don’t be afraid of facing challenges or failures. Rise up to challenges because you can do it. You are capable and can learn from failures – don’t let them defeat you. They are your learning opportunities.

 

 

Name: Bernadett Stomp

Position: Senior QA Engineer

Location: Budapest, Hungary

 

 

 

Q: What would you like to see change in our industry for developing and supporting women to pursue careers in tech?
A:
I would suggest to further support part-time work and to do not make any difference between men and women. You can still sometimes hear: “It’s good code, even if you are a girl.”

 

 

Name: Puja Mahendru

Position: Senior Manager, Marketing Communications

Location: Ahmedabad, India

 

 

Q: What advice would you give other women pursuing a career in tech?

A: Tech is a rewarding field in every sense of the word. It has numerous sub-nodes and all of these work to find solutions to practical aspects of human lives. My first and foremost advice to women in tech is to never get intimidated and to never ‘self-doubt’. Some women feel they lack enough knowledge of the field to take up new work. But what matters more than their knowledge is their confidence to step up and learn new skills. Upskill. Get under the wing of someone you know who has tremendous knowledge and is willing to pass it on. Work hard to prove yourself.  Build yourself a support system. It’s certainly difficult to find one mentor who can help you grow in all areas. Look wider, think broader – you may find a mentor in a colleague or a friend. And finally, advocate for yourself. Don’t settle for anything less. You have some exceptional skill that others lack. Dig in, find your strengths, and excel!

 

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