Rise of the ‘Accidental’ Cybersecurity Professional

Shelley Westman, Protegrity’s SVP of Alliances & Field Operations, was quoted in an article by ES2017 Alison DeNisco, Rise of the ‘accidental’ cybersecurity professional.”

With an extreme shortage of trained cybersecurity professionals, it’s becoming increasingly common for people—especially women—to enter the field from other careers, including IT, law, compliance, and government. These employees form a group of “accidental” cyber professionals who are filling the need for cyber professionals and offering a different view on security threats.

Shelley Westman, senior vice president of alliances and field operations at Protegrity, started her career as a lawyer. She left the field and went to work at IBM in a number of different roles ranging from procurement to product management. Eventually, she was assigned a role in hardware security.

“I knew nothing about security, and had to self-teach everything,” she said. “I fell in love with the space—it’s very analytical and very fast moving.”

At IBM, she started the group Women In Security Excelling (WISE), which grew to 850 members.

“It’s a myth in the industry that you have to be technical to be in the field of cyber,” Westman said. “We need people who have deep analytical skills, who can talk to clients, and translate technical speak to business value.” That includes marketing and finance pros as well. “It’s an end-to-end business,” Westman added.

It also requires strong communication skills, and the ability to work as a team.

“This is not a business where you can get things done by yourself,” Westman said.

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