Women Leading the Cybersecurity Frontier: Reflections from our Women in Cyber Interview Series 

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Women at cybersecurity conference

In honor of Women’s History Month, I embarked on an endeavor to showcase the remarkable journeys of three incredible cybersecurity leaders through our “Women in Cyber” interview series. My conversations with Jennifer Zacharias, SVP and Director of the Cyber Defense Center at KeyBank; Jennifer Kendall, Director of Security Operations at Forter; and Kelly Haydu, VP of Information Security, Technology, and Enterprise Applications at CarGurus, afforded me profound insights into the variability and vibrancy of careers in cybersecurity. 

Keep reading to learn about the insights these women shared in our one-to-one conversations:

  1. There are many unique pathways into cybersecurity: The professional trajectories of Kelly, Jennifer Kendall, and Jennifer Zacharias are a testament to the fact that there’s no single route to achieving success in cyber. Kelly transitioned into cybersecurity from a quality assurance background; Jennifer Kendall started networking when cybersecurity wasn’t a prominent field; and Jennifer Zacharias pivoted from fashion merchandising to leading a cyber defense center. These unique pathways underscore how important it is to be an adaptable, life-long learner and serve as a reminder that anyone can come into this field and be successful—even if their experience is non-traditional.
  1. Elevate your cyber career through mentorship: Our discussions brought to the forefront the indispensable role of mentorship and networking in propelling one’s career forward. Building meaningful connections, proactively seeking mentorship and challenging imposter syndrome are essential steps toward climbing the cybersecurity leadership ladder.
  1. Broad skill sets and authenticity are key: Kelly refuted the misconception that landing a leadership role defines success in cybersecurity. You can choose to remain a practitioner and still have a very long and successful career in this field. Our interview series highlighted that possessing a broad skill set—spanning technical acumen, stellar communication abilities, and an analytical approach to articulating risk—is crucial. It became clear that those with diverse capabilities as individual contributors are indispensable for cybersecurity’s continuous evolution and innovation.

The shared journeys in our “Women in Cyber” series are inspiring and shine a light on different perspectives regarding what it takes to have a career in cyber, signaling a promising and inclusive future for the industry. The accomplishments and experiences detailed by Kelly, Jennifer Kendall, and Jennifer Zacharias emphasize the importance of mentorship, the willingness to adapt, and the boldness to seize even the most unconventional opportunities. Through these conversations, it’s evident that fostering a diverse talent pool is paramount to driving excellence in this industry.

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