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Women in Security: Enterprises in Security Should Seek Curiousity and Attitude

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Serra Luck, the Vice President for Strategic Business Development at HID Global, speaks about why she chose the security industry as her career choice

Tell us about yourself and your current job role.
I was born and grew up in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and have earned my degree in Statistics from Middle East Technical University. At that time analytics and statistical models had been used in finance mostly however after a summer trainee program at a renowned financial institute, I decided to progress in the technology sector where I could be close to innovation and rapid change and could work in an environment where I would have customer-facing contact.

Technology was exciting even 30 years back, I  worked with computers that were the size of a fridge and discs that were the size of a physical music album (LP), have seen the worldwide web take off, and learned statistical programming. I moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1997 and worked for Oracle in their EMEA Direct Marketing Division until I decided to pursue an MBA. I earned my master’s degree in international management in Germany in 2000.

From 2000 to 2010, I had the opportunity to apply my analytics, technology, and management skills at Siemens Headquarters in Munich. There I worked at various customer-facing roles in business development across information and communication and medical segments with a focus on identity and access management. Identity and privacy had been two pillars that kept me intrigued over the years especially with the dawn of cloud, connectivity, and IoT.

HID and I crossed our paths during HID’s pursuit to connect physical access control with logical access and provide the best of both worlds to their channel. I felt I could make a difference and combine my acumen of the IT and identity business with the physical dimension. That is why I decided to join HID in 2010.

At HID I held various positions, starting with Segment Management. After that, I moved towards business development for mobile access. At the time when I stepped into that role many years back, mobile access was a new concept in the security industry. Back then we have built the foundation for what the offering has evolved into today. The role was exciting, I was part of the core team that incubated and led HID, the industry market leader, into a new offering as well as a new business model. From there on I was promoted into roles to set up end-user and consultant business practices, inside sales team, and build sales excellence across the global business.

Today I lead the strategic business development team for the largest business area of HID, namely Physical Access Control Solutions (PACS).  In my current role, I am responsible for leading the vertical engagement, consultant specification, strategic alliances, marketing, and sales excellence teams for PACS globally. Looking back, the red thread in my career so far has been a lot around transformation and change management next to the technical, sales, and business development parts I get a lot of energy out of change management. Empowering teams, departments, and business units to embark on a journey to discover new territories and challenging the status quo is something I enjoy very much.

Tell us about your journey into the security industry. Was the security industry your first choice?
HID being a leader in the identity space with credential authentication, authorization and administration capabilities were and are clearly innovating and genuinely investing to make physical security a strategic stakeholder in IT transformations. Everything I did in the IAM (Identity and Access Management) space was connected to security, compliance, and governance with a focus on software and services. HID added the hardware dimension to the multifaceted security approach.

From my perspective, the security industry makes a difference in people’s lives. What we do as an industry helps to mitigate risks, we strive to enable our customers to create trusted environments so that they and the people who use them can fulfill their potential and have ease of mind when it comes to being secure to move freely.

Have a look at what we do for K-12, for universities, hospitals, airports, age care facilities, multi-tenant buildings; we are genuinely in the business of protecting people, things, and places. We have a responsibility, we have a brand promise, “ it just works” we deliver reliable, durable, and easy-to-use products and services with the highest security standards in the market and best in class customer support. Technology, innovation, and the element of protecting what matters pulled me into this industry; that is why I am still here. Having seen the impact of what we do, my respect for the security industry and for those who serve keep growing to date.

During your tenure in the security industry have you experienced major changes the industry has gone through?
I did and these are very remarkable moves. The first one I can call out is the move from hardware to software and services. HID-led mobile access has been a strategic shift in the security mindset of end-users as well as security installers/integrators from an added-value perspective. The possibility of giving and revoking access rights in real-time, using different form factors other than a badge, opens many opportunities in a connected ecosystem.

The second one is digitisation. Industry 4.0 and digitization are not only about automation and robotics. Digital engagement/marketing, social engineering, user journey-focused agile development, and innovation are also prominently finding their foundation in the physical access control world. How we communicate and what we communicate to our end-users have fundamentally changed; with the possibility of using Omni-channels to access information and any offer, we are much more cognizant of the desires of the user and user experience.

Then third the commoditization of IT and us expecting to receive every service at our workplace with the same ease and speed and simplicity as we have in the private world; that means if I am able to buy, subscribe, delete, activate, terminate, update service with a click in the private world, why cannot I do that at work? That is why we have invested/continue to invest heavily in the cloud to give this ability to our customers.

Finally the return to workplace challenges: Will we work all the time from an office or not? How will this impact us and our channel and end-users in the coming years? How can we adapt to change? The voice of customer efforts we lead across functions evaluates all angles that will ease adapting to changing requirements.

Are there any challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working in this industry?
Working in a global business and having a team in many corners of the world from California to Sydney, the current travel restrictions and regional lockdown policies as well as resulting remote work situations are challenges. I guess we are all taking our toll in connecting with our customers, with our teams, and our people. While we do our utmost, homo sapiens is (I am) a social creature, we need live interaction, we want to debate face to face, we want to mingle. We have new members of the team who never had the chance to meet the larger team face to face. We all look forward to seeing each other again.

What sort of future do you foresee for the security industry as a whole?
Security is there to stay but will go beyond security as well playing a vital role in bigger ecosystems. In my view, the industry will transform and merge with IT in the years to come. We will see a time where we will move in spaces and those spaces will recognize us. There will be mechanisms that will adjust all ecosystem controls towards the individual automatically and in crowds, with machine learning and patterns the systems will advise best options or even pick for you. So technology in combination with new ways of identification and authentication will most likely change the known access control user experience we see today fundamentally.

Data analytics will derive conclusions and the assets-related predictive analytics will evolve to more sophisticated security predictions/forecasts. Identity will play the most crucial role and whoever holds the identity of whoever is favored as the most reliable identity holder will scale. This will not be limited to governments, private enterprises will be part of this. The security experts will walk to a site and let augmented reality tools guide them for best practices. Digital competent installers/integrators will provide less error-prone services.

End users will have a full view of their assets and maintenance maps. Due to all these technology shifts, we are seeing the dynamic of new entrants offering adjacent and complementary functionality to traditionally single-purpose physical security offerings. All these changes will lead to a new dynamic as to who provides value where and the role of players in our renewed industry.

What more needs to be done to welcome more and more women into the security industry?
While I look for new team members, the most important attribute I seek and encourage is curiosity. The second is an attitude; the right “can do” attitude. We should encourage enterprises in security to seek curiosity and attitude. Education and technical knowledge may be gained over time but others not. That is why I encourage recruiting women who have these traits, and where possible directly from universities and coach and grow them. I know for a fact that for us that had been a rewarding experience and we will continue to do so.

I do not think we make a good job of marketing the value of the security industry in our job advertisements. We should speak to the desires of women who seek diversity, who seek to make a change, who look to take part in projects that have a meaningful impact. Security has many aspects which can intrigue women that seek a career in innovation, technology, analytics, risk management. The security industry is that place because it holds all these elements. Our eye for detail, multi-tasking nature, and conflict management skills are of great value when it is a matter of creating trusted environments.

Also, I call on employers to consider the positive impact of diversity at the leadership table. Diversity can come from many areas including gender diversity, women and men have different gifts. I strongly believe that companies need to diversify to remain competitive. Bringing in people with different backgrounds and perspectives can lead to better decision-making, greater innovation, and higher engagement in the workplace; different views stimulate creative problem-solving.

Albert Einstein says the best: We must not only learn to tolerate our differences. We must welcome them as the richness and diversity which can lead to true intelligence.

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Interviews

Women in Security: The Way to the Top is Certainly Harder for Women

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Maya Horowitz, VP Research at Check Point Software Technologies, says that organisations should carry out women mentoring programs

Tell us about yourself and your current job role.
I’m the VP of Research in Check Point Software Technologies. Check Point Research (cp<r>) is in charge of analyzing the cyber threat landscape, making sure our customers are protected from the state of the art of cyber-attacks, as well as identifying new malware, campaigns and vulnerabilities and publishing them for the benefit of the entire security community.

Tell us about your journey into the security industry. Was the security industry your first choice?
I got into the cyber industry through my 10-year-service in the Israeli Defense Forces. It wasn’t my first choice, which is why my studies were unrelated to cyber or high-tech at all; I studied psychology and business management, and my thesis was related to cancer research. After completing my master’s degree, I joined Check Point Software based on my background from IDF, and I’ve been here for the last 7 years.

During your tenure in the security industry have you experienced major changes the industry has gone through?
The most overwhelming change in the cybersecurity industry is the growing number of start-up companies and point solutions. It’s almost as if every new cyber-attack is grounds for a new company, which means that to be protected against all attacks – organizations allegedly need to work with an infinite number of security providers. Check Point Software, aims at providing a more holistic solution, and I believe this is the future of the industry – moving back to consolidation, to avoid having to chaise numerous products.

Are there any challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working in this industry?
As a woman in the industry, and especially as a senior manager, I often find myself to be the only woman in the room, which can get a bit lonely. On the other hand, it also means that I am different, and this can actually mean that my voice is different and it’s easier to be heard and remembered.

I also think that while there is no glass ceiling, the way to the top is certainly harder for women. As men’s behavior is more the manager stereotype (based on decades of male leadership), we have to work against the stereotype and prove that we are worthy managers, usually to our male managers who appreciate the stereotype.

And interestingly, the stereotype doesn’t only apply to the managers, but also to the candidates. Too often I find myself trying to convince a female employee or mentee that she is more than capable of a managerial or professional promotion. I consistently see insecurities and exaggerated perfectionism in super-qualified women, and I wish we would take these leaps of faith in ourselves as easily as men do.

What sort of future do you foresee for the security industry as a whole?
The cybersecurity industry will keep doing the cat and mouse game with the hackers – with new attack tricks, new protections will emerge, and vice versa. Like in a physical war, this will keep happening until a real tie-breaker is invented – the nuclear power of technology which will be a game-changer. What will it be? Quantum computing? New implementation for blockchain? Time will tell.

What more needs to be done to welcome more and more women into the security industry?
From a very young age, essentially from the moment we are born, girls are less exposed to technology – while our brothers get to play in robots, we would typically get a barbie doll for the present. We are later less keen to join the “boyish” majors in schools like computers, physics, and mathematics, and the same later in university.

And so, unfortunately, by the time we get to the age where we start our career, it can be too late to divert our path to technology. I was lucky enough to be “forced” into technology as part of my military service, which made me understand that this is where I belong, but I could have easily missed this opportunity otherwise.

In other words, the burden of welcoming women into the security/technology industry actually falls on parents, as well as kindergarten and elementary school teachers, to not limit girls’ toys, hobbies, and perspectives. Still, the industry can do at least a few things to encourage women to join – while I don’t believe in affirmative action, managers should proactively seek to employ amazing women as part of their organizations, and give equal chance.

Some examples are emphasis on using gender-neutral phrasing in job descriptions, advertising in women tech forums, and even making sure the candidate is exposed to female peers/managers in the hiring process. And eventually, to avoid drop-outs of women who look around and don’t see their likes, it is also important for organizations to carry out women mentoring programs.

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GITEX

Video: Unifying Data Protection and Cybersecurity – Acronis @ GITEX Global 2021

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Maréva Koulamallah, the Head of Marketing and Communication for MEA at Acronis, speaks about her company’s participation at GITEX Global 2021:

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GITEX

Video: Nothing But Cyber Series – Attaining Unified Asset Visibility

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In the sixth episode of “Nothing But Cyber”, Paul Devies, the RVP for EMEA at Armis, speaks about how companies can attain unified asset visibility:

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More information: https://cyberknight.tech/ | https://www.armis.com/

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