8 March 2019 | by Jennifer McNeil-Haddad

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Finding Adventure, Opportunity and Challenge

For International Women’s Day we spoke with women who are innovating, inspiring and cultivating New Brunswick’s cybersecurity ecosystem. They come from different roles and different stages in their careers, but when we asked about their experience in this sector, what #InnovateForChange looks like to them, some common themes emerged.

Master’s student Britta Sennewald is an international student attending the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Her career path into cybersecurity has not followed the strategic plan one might expect. She started out in graphic design. “As a former graphic designer and a current master’s student in Cybersecurity,” Britta said, “I know exactly what innovate for change means. I have innovated my own life by changing my whole working career to get better job opportunities.”

In her study of cybersecurity Britta says, “I found something I never expected to love as much as I do.” She loved it enough to take a leap of faith and travel all the way to Canada to study for her master’s degree.

Samaneh Mahdavifar is a Cybersecurity Researcher at the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity (CIC) and a Ph.D. candidate at UNB. Samaneh said she has always been drawn to cybersecurity because of the sense of the adventure the field offered but her fascination evolved over time. “It became something greater than that to me. It changed to a commitment that every mom feels for her kids, family, and society,” Samaneh said. “Every step I take in my career is working towards protecting people against cyber threats. This feeling of being helpful to so many is amazing and irreplaceable.”

Exploring innovative ways to empower and educate people to reduce cyber risk is top of mind for Kathryn Chamberlain, COO of startup, Beauceron Security. Kathryn refers to cybersecurity as, “the ongoing household discussion; one that’s never finished.” When asked what the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, #InnovateForChange means to her, Kathryn was quick to site examples, “Automation dictates notes-to-self directly to my phone, digital transformation connects me to my family while I’m in another continent for work. #InnovateForChange means finding relevant, enduring ways to inform everyone on how to stay secure through the perks of rapid change.”

Beate Roessler is Cyber Security Project Manager with Siemens, head office in Germany, where she has worked for more than 25 years. Even after more than 150 years, Siemens is continuing to innovate, this time in the cybersecurity space. Beate is here, in New Brunswick, over the next year to familiarize the Siemens team in Fredericton with knowledge that will help this new global cybersecurity centre to fulfill their mission. She said the most important and interesting aspect in cybersecurity today, is in growing the ability to work together.

“At one time, we had to become absolute experts on particular technologies, but nowadays nobody can have 100% of knowledge in all. The challenge today is more to have the ability to work together in a global, organized team, consisting of people with diverse backgrounds. This is the real competency we have to have.”

Beate’s teammate, Mian Zhou, OT- Security Engineer was Siemens Canada’s first new hire in Fredericton, in fall of 2018. She shares Beate’s global perspective, “With today’s open source technologies always in development, people are contributing to the innovation from everywhere. The diversity, not just in terms of geo-location but also age and gender and sector, contributing to the evolution of technology, so from my perspective, the more tolerant you are the better you evolve.” Having worked in the cybersecurity sector from graduation, Mian said she is always learning, trying to keep up with the breathless pace of new tech development. “I enjoy that.”

The true potential of innovation is achieved through the full complement of a diverse team, Mian said, “It is not just individuals – to be really effective, it takes a team’s work.”

For International Women’s Day, we wanted to share a little bit about the women who are working in New Brunswick’s cybersecurity ecosystem, and discuss how this year’s theme, #InnovateForChange aligns with their experiences. From their answers we noticed some shared qualities. They share an open-minded interest, a sense of adventure, and a keen desire to welcome more women to innovate the cybersecurity sector.

Join us on Twitter for the #IWD2019 conversation #InnovateForChange #BalanceForBetter @Cyber_NB

CyberNB is a Special Operating Agency of OpportunitiesNB.

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