4 cybersecurity career tips from the Women Techmakers conference

Abstract architectural photo shot from the ground. Features a lot of modern windows and steel.If you’re curious about a career in cybersecurity but unsure if you have the right experience, I have some great news for you. This past weekend, I went to Google’s Women Techmakers conference in Belfast and heard presentations from many talented women in tech. Several shared their journeys to the cybersecurity space, and surprisingly, not everyone started out in security (or tech) jobs. My two favorite speakers actually worked in social anthropology and social media roles before switching to cybersecurity. It was fascinating to hear about why and how they got into the space, and they shared lots of helpful lessons in their sessions. Here are a few things I learned from them:

You don’t need a tech background to get into cybersecurity

In the talk “Beautiful Security”, Lara Sunday, spoke about the untraditional route she took to get into cybersecurity. She started her career in social anthropology before enrolling in a 12-week cybersecurity academy at Microsoft in 2020, where she now works as a security cloud solution architect. Lara also shared a few resources, including the book IN Security by Jane Frankland, which helped her understand the industry and gave her confidence that her unique perspective was a strength, not a weakness.  

Security is all about culture

Another key point Lara discussed was that culture within an organization plays a crucial role in security. Leaders, and the emphasis they place on security, directly impact the overall security of a company. If leaders aren’t prioritizing security and incorporating it into all parts of their business, other employees aren’t going to prioritize it either. While following industry guidelines and regulations is important in security, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re secure. Rules are important guidelines, but to really be secure throughout your whole company, people need to keep security in mind throughout every aspect of their job. Going beyond the rules is necessary to achieve a truly secure environment.

Sometimes you need an outside perspective

Claire Ozanne, a security DevOps engineer for BP, was inspired to transition into tech after attending Women in Tech and Women Who Code community events several years ago. In her presentation, she shared a straightforward explanation of concepts often shrouded in tech jargon, such as DevOps, cloud computing, and infrastructure as code. Despite it being her first time speaking at a conference, Claire delivered a fantastic talk. One intriguing point she raised was that sometimes the experts who deal with certain issues on a daily basis aren’t the best ones to explain those concepts. Because they’re so familiar with the subject, it’s difficult to provide a broader perspective. That further reinforced the point that Claire made in her presentation—diverse perspectives are welcome and necessary in tech. 

You learn more by doing than by watching

Another presentation I listened to was all about delivering value to your users faster and with less effort. Chiara Gardner, a senior product manager at Gearset, explained that gathering evidence can help you avoid common pitfalls of the software development process like the “feature factory,” which refers to when companies focus on the number of features they’re shipping rather than the value those features are providing customers. Chiara said that she learned much more through actually shipping products and features rather than spending time on the theoretical side of things. 

Celebrate women in security 

The Women Techmakers Belfast conference provided a ton of valuable information for anyone currently in or pursuing careers in tech and cybersecurity. If you’re interested in learning more about their program, visit their website

If you know a woman who you think is making a positive impact in the tech industry, check out SecuredbyWomen.com, a new initiative from Lacework to celebrate the brilliant women in cybersecurity. We’re accepting nominations until March 20th, 2023.