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Women in Security: Women Have Had to Work Very Hard to Prove Themselves

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Suzanne Al Najjar, the Channel Manager for the Middle East at A10 Networks, says that there’s nothing in the world that is free of challenges

Tell us about yourself and your current job role.
I have always been very passionate about the technology industry which leads me to choose a career in this field. Currently, I lead the regional channel business for A10 Networks in the Middle East. The role involves developing and implementing a channel strategy and strengthening relationships with our partners.

As a company, we focus a lot on education and training and I oversee our partner enablement program. What I love most about my job is networking and face-to-face interactions with partners, but with the current pandemic, this has been a big challenge over the past year and a half.

Tell us about your journey into the security industry. Was the security industry your first choice?
I wouldn’t say that security was my first choice, but the progression through my career in the technology field led me to where I am today – in the highly fascinating world of IT security. I started working in the IT field in 2014 with a distributor for network and network security products.

I then joined a system integrator as a territory sales manager, tasked with the role of expanding their market coverage. Following that, I joined Micro Focus to support the company in growing its business in Saudi Arabia. I then landed a Channel Account Manager role at A10 Networks in March of last year – a position that I currently hold and am perfectly suited to.

During your tenure in the security industry have you experienced major changes the industry has gone through?
I believe that there are at least three major things that have changed:

  • The rapid advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT) has had a huge impact on the security industry over the past decade. Millions of connected devices are creating new entry points to the network and therefore posing increasing security and privacy risk.
  • The current pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation plans for a majority of regional enterprises and as they embrace technologies like the cloud to enable the hybrid workplace, there is an increased sense of urgency to implement the latest technologies and practices to secure the organizational network.
  • In my experience women have had to work very hard to prove themselves. Especially in male-dominated industries like technology, for instance, this has historically been a challenging task. But this is changing and today, women are embracing major roles across all fields, including IT security.

Are there any challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working in this industry?
Actually, there’s nothing in the world that is free of challenges, but I am a positive and competitive person and the thought of overcoming a difficult task greatly motivates me. I see challenges as a stepping stone in my journey to becoming stronger and more successful.

What sort of future do you foresee for the security industry as a whole?
No doubt, cyberattacks will increase in frequency and sophistication in the future. One of the major innovations driven by 5G is the implementation of multi-access edge computing (MEC). Building intelligence into the edge will boost the availability and efficiency of 5G networks. However, keeping the global cybersecurity trends in mind, we can see that the intelligent edge might be hijacked by attackers for launching different kinds of attacks.

2020 was the year of understanding what the Zero Trust model is in a practical sense. We believe that the concept of Zero Trust has reached a level of maturity and clarity where it will be effectively adopted and implemented by many organizations in 2021 and beyond and that it will become the go-to security model for all types and sizes of organizations.

Since 2020 forced most of the workforce to work remotely, attackers have been experimenting with new ways of exploiting security loopholes or shortcomings exposed by these rapid changes. This accelerated and will continue to accelerate the development and adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions.

What more needs to be done to welcome more and more women into the security industry?
As mentioned earlier, the age-old mindset of technology being a male-dominated field is breaking down. Women today in most developed countries across the globe are given equal opportunities when it comes to education and careers. We as women have to change our mindsets and believe that we can be dominant in any field that we choose, including IT security, if only we are well educated, innovative in our outlook, and persistent in our desire to reach the top!

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