#MIWIC2024: Chelsea Jarvie, CISO and Director at Neon Circle

Organised by Eskenzi PR in media partnership with the IT Security Guru, the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards aim to shed light on the remarkable women in our industry. The following is a feature on one of 2024’s Top 20 women selected by an esteemed panel of judges. Presented in a Q&A format, the nominee’s answers are written in their own words with minor edits made by the editor for readability and where relevant, supplemented with additional commentary by their nominator.

In 2024, the awards were sponsored by BTThink Cybersecurity Ltd. and Plexal, with Eskenzi PR, Assured and Women in Cybersecurity UK & Ireland Affiliate as partners.

What does your job role entail?

In my role, I’m responsible for all aspects of cyber security, that means making sure we are keeping up with the cyber landscape, we are operating in a cyber resilient way across the business and we have a positive security culture at all levels. Being a CISO is a daily balancing act that goes beyond the technical. The security of the company is at the heart of every decision I make but it’s important to ensure security is not hindering business progress, rather, ensuring the business moves forward and stays competitive in the most secure way possible.

How did you get into the cybersecurity industry?

I studied an Ethical Hacking degree in Dundee, and have worked in the industry since I graduated. However, I didn’t always want to work in cyber security, and I certainly didn’t want to work in IT when I was in high school! I loved science, particularly biology and I knew I wanted to help people in my job so I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy. But I was rejected from all pharmacy degrees I applied to, and I had no plan B. I hated school computing but it was my strongest subject so with no other career options on the table, I decided to investigate how I could help people through IT instead of medicine. I had never tried to hack into anything so really didn’t know if Ethical Hacking was for me, but I loved the idea of helping people and businesses stay safe from hackers so I took a leap of faith and started my degree. I’ve had my ups and downs through university and my career but pursing cyber security has ultimately turned out to be the right choice!

What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech/cyber industry and how did you overcome it?

In my experience, I’ve been underestimated, undermined and disrespected on far too many occasions and I’ve considered leaving the cyber security field more times than I’d care to admit. I’ve found particularly in leadership roles I’ve had to be more confrontational than I would naturally like just to be heard, and to set my professional boundaries.

Having worked in several toxic cultures, I used to feel quite angry and disheartened but I’ve realised how essential it is that I continue to fight against this, both for myself and for other women. I’ve grown as a cyber leader, developed a thicker skin and know how to deal with poor attitudes and exclusionary behaviour quite quickly. Yes I am often underestimated, but it doesn’t tend to be for long.

What are you doing to support other women, and/or to increase diversity, in the tech/cyber industry?

In my day-to-day work I will not tolerate behaviour which is exclusionary and disrespectful of women. Having worked in toxic cultures, I always strive to foster an inclusive and welcoming culture in my teams. I want to attract the most talented people to my team, from a whole range of backgrounds so we have different approaches, different thought processes and ultimately different and unique ways to stay cyber secure.

I have been involved in the women in tech community since university and have spoken at many events, hosted my own events and mentored some exceptional women. I’m a trained STEM ambassador and have went into schools to help inspire the next generation of girls to choose cyber security, but I’ve also spoken at events for women returning to the workforce, and women already at university who may want to consider cyber security. I also had the privilege of being the keynote speaker at IT’s Not Just For the Boys twice.

What is one piece of advice you would give to girls/women looking to enter the cybersecurity industry?

Own the space you have, know you have every right to be there and constantly remind yourself that you have the skills, knowledge and background which allows you bring something unique and invaluable to your work.

The post #MIWIC2024: Chelsea Jarvie, CISO and Director at Neon Circle first appeared on IT Security Guru.

The post #MIWIC2024: Chelsea Jarvie, CISO and Director at Neon Circle appeared first on IT Security Guru.

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Author: Charley Nash