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Change your career!

by Elfi Koufogeorgou

Ready for a new career in … cyber security?

New ideas, new projects, initiatives that could impact people’s lives in a positive way have always fascinated me! Somehow I have been looking for them, (not necessarily intentionally), but also unintentionally, after engaging in conversations with people that I meet on my entrepreneurial journey. After finishing those conversations, the grand finale is that I am lit with the same excitement a 4-year-old child feels upon receiving a birthday present. 

Additionally, I hear more and more people talking about their desire to change their career paths but not really knowing where to look, what to do or whom to ask. Let me introduce you to CyberWayFinder.

A new project – CyberWayFinder –  that I have recently learned about from Marina Stephanova of MICSE, (an association promoting women in information and communication technologies and advocating an inclusive digital society), seeks to help people who wish to change careers and acquire skills which projects them into a field that employers are looking into more and more.  

This is something which is of paramount importance in a digital world: CYBERSECURITY. Yes, the term might sound scary and very technical but, as Marina explains, around the topic of cybersecurity there are a lot of different domains, skills and career potentials that initially might not even occur to someone.

For example, cybersecurity offers great opportunities to technical IT/Computer scientists for obvious reasons but also to people with a legal background for compliance and auditory purposes, to risk management experts and those with a focus on business processes for IT governance and business continuity, to name a few.

Whether you come from a psychology background, or political science, or even business studies, you can contribute a invaluable, (yet varied), perspective to building an organisation’s overall security. If you still consider yourself not technical enough, think again – you are reading this on the screen of your laptop, tablet or mobile and most certainly own a smart device, right?

Why cybersecurity?

In our quickly digitizing world, the biggest challenge for enterprises is keeping information safe amidst rapidly changing threat landscape. Major data breaches regularly make the news and attacks increasingly vary in nature, motivation and means. The vary from highly sophisticated hacks to, surprisingly successful, low-tech scams. This requires a more creative and multidisciplinary approach. Companies of all types, industries and sizes are impacted and greatly need to bolster their security strategy.  The main issue is that talent with the right skills and mindset is hard to find. There are estimated 1 million vacant cybersecurity jobs worldwide!
(source: https://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/cybersecurity) and the number is projected to grow to 1.8 million by 2022 (source: http://blog.isc2.org/isc2_blog/2017/02/cybersecurity-workforce-gap.html). Considering the wide range of roles in security, the shortage of professionals spans all knowledge and skills levels across all domains. 

 The situation is further exacerbated by the industry’s failure to include women. A perfect example is that in Europe women make up only 7% of the workforce in the field of Cybersecurity. Why women? The diversity and constant evolution of threats requires an accordingly wide and diverse perspective and innovative thinking. Balanced teams of men and women have proven to perform better at addressing different aspects of cybersecurity challenges and thus achieving more comprehensive protection.)

The Programme

So what is Marina aiming for? She strives to offer a wider audience and job seekers the opportunity to re-integrate into the workforce or to change careers by acquiring new skills and by learning on the job in cooperation with big companies that employ the participants of the program while they would be following the program. 

Here is what Marina explains:

This is a 3-year training track allowing women from different backgrounds to learn the skills and get their first work experience in security. Candidates go through an intensive initiation training introducing them to all eight cybersecurity domains before choosing one to specialize in. Then, they join cybersecurity teams within partner companies to continue learning on the job. The CWF programme combines intensive training through bootcamps and evening courses with paid real-life experience and individual mentoring by established cybersecurity professionals. The candidates emerge from the training track having the relevant expertise and internationally recognised certification for a successful career in cybersecurity. 

Who Is it For?

The CyberWayFinder programme is aimed at women, mid-career or new entrants on the job market, eager to start an exciting new career in cybersecurity, with or without technical background but willing to commit to learning.

Mastering the new trade requires strong motivation and personal commitment of spending studious evenings and sometimes weekends for three years. The key to success is courage, a drive to acquire new skills, a curiosity with the subject and a time commitment on the part of the candidates to work diligently with the mentors and challenge themselves daily in their new role as cybersecurity practitioners.

What Companies Gain

Partnering companies benefit from access to highly motivated workforce – excited starters, strivers and accomplishers. Success in cybersecurity requires the strong growth and learning mindset and the diversity that this programme brings into cybersecurity teams, thus helping organisations stay ahead of the game. But CyberWayFinder takes the risk out of hiring newcomers as the candidates are pre-selected and have a support network of mentors and trainers to provide top-notch expertise. 

Let’s Make It Happen

The programme has already taken off and entering its second year in Brussels. Expanding to the Grand Duchy, CyberWayFinder is currently recruiting motivated candidates committed to a 3-year journey. It is open to partnering with all companies interested in collaborating and benefiting from the programme.

Furthermore, Marina is looking for spaces or co-working places to hold the evening and weekend training sessions. And last but not least, this project constantly needs established cybersecurity practitioners with proven experience willing to share their knowledge as trainers or mentors to help foster a supportive community for women in cybersecurity. If you are interested in getting involved, you can find more information and get in touch at cyberwayfinder.com or via micse.lu.


Note by the author : Thank you Marina Stephanova from MICSE for all the support in the realization of this article. 

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