On the evening of Wednesday, February 6, a crowd of Drexel students, faculty members, and information security professionals from around the Philadelphia region filled Bossone Atrium for a panel discussion featuring four women information security officers: Cathy Beech (CISO, Comcast), Tracey Brand-Sanders (BISO, Prudential Financial), Nancy Hunter (CISO, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), and Anahi Santiago (CISO, Christiana Care Health System). The event was organized by the Philadelphia Women & Cyber Security group, and co-sponsored by AccessIT Group, Agari, Drexel Women in Computing Society (WiCS), and SecureWorks.
“The goal in bringing together this group of cyber security professionals and students was to inspire more individuals, including both students and professionals, to want to get into the cyber security field. Having a panel event allowed the leaders in this industry to share the experiences of how women can lead in this field and how students can aim to build their careers,” said Rosemary Christian, Founder of Philadelphia Women & Cyber Security and a Risk Advisor for AccessIT Group.
WiCS president Safa Aman (Computer Science major) kicked off the event by introducing CCI student Ledornubari Nwilene (Computing & Security Technology major), who served as the moderator for the evening’s discussion. Though the panelists work in diverse industries (healthcare, government, financial services, and telecommunications), their conversation revealed some universal security concerns that employers in all industries must be prepared to face. The panelists also shared some practical advice on career preparation and networking for the students and career changers in the audience.
When asked about her experience moderating a panel of influential women in the technology industry, Nwilene said, “Fear? Excitement? I felt it all. I’ve had experience being a panelist, but a moderator?! I was completely clueless. As I sat straight, picked up the microphone and beheld the amazing women I was sitting next to and was surrounded by, every ounce of anxiety disappeared. I put on a garment of confidence and strove to be my true, authentic self. I’m thankful I was given this great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I want to continue doing that this year and beyond.”
Ms. Christian encourages students interested in information security to seek out professional groups, conferences, and individuals working in the cyber security field. “The Philadelphia cyber security community is always open to accepting professionals interested in learning more about the field,” she said. One of the Philadelphia Women & Cyber Security's initiatives for 2019 is to connect universities and college students in the Philadelphia area with cyber security professionals. The group has previously held events at Chestnut Hill College and is planning to expand its relationship with other universities in the future.
Students who are interested in attending future events hosted by Philadelphia Women & Cyber Security can find more information on the group’s Meetup page and LinkedIn group, or by connecting with Rosemary Christian on LinkedIn. The group was founded in May 2018 with the mission to “provide opportunities to advance careers for professionals in cyber security through education, mentoring, and networking.”