Women in Tech: Cyber Security- Ravila White
As an educational service, we have been very interested in how to help correct the gender disparity associated with the tech industry, specifically in cyber security. To get a better understanding, we decided to interview some of the top, expert women in cyber security to get their perspective. In this interview series, we interviewed Ravila White who’s worked in various fields of the tech industry from a service desk, to the cyber security expert she is today. A role model for anyone breaking into the tech industry. Ravila has a variety of certifications in many tech disciplines and methodology, including business related certifications along with her formal education, and has also worked in a number of industries as a cyber security consultant among a litany of other roles. Below are all four episodes of her interview along with tidbits and quotes you can share to help spread awareness that women are valuable members of the tech community, so don’t forget to pass it on!
Episode 1: From Service Desk to Cyber Security Expert
In Episode 1, Ravila shares her journey into the cyber security field. “After I felt I had topped-out, I thought, you know what… there are opportunities in cyber security and I want to find out more about it.” Imparted us with some great advice about boosting your career. “Make sure you have a good portfolio of mentors.” “You need to have your go-to people that have already been there and done that.” “You need to have people that are both men and women. You need to have people that are technical and you need to be around the business leaders as well because that helps make you, actually, a well-rounded professional.” And shared, with us, how she’s seen the industry changing over time and what is important for today’s cyber security expert to have in their skill-set. “We’ve had to basically mature our industry… we’ve had to learn where we can pull back, we’ve had to learn how to be more pragmatic and we’ve also had to learn how to take the military part out of it because we have to basically provide recommendations according to the appropriate audience.” “They’re looking for business professionals. Why? Because they have to run teams. They have to run teams, they have to incentivize employees, they have to know how to grow them. If it’s just defense, defense, defense, then that can actually drop off, so they’re looking for people who also have that emotional intelligence.”
Episode 2: Helping Women Break In to the Cyber Security Field
In Episode 2, Ravila shares some great advice on choosing which certifications to go after. “First figure out what route you want to take, make sure that you invest in that (you get the right certifications), get neutral certifications because then if you decide to change paths, you can still reuse that certification.” As well as sharing her recent decisions about her own certification paths. “At this time, I’ve made the decision to not get any more security certifications because what my focus is at this point is to make sure I have the appropriate business acumen.”
Episode 3.1: Women in Cyber Security
In Episode 3.1, Ms. White shared some of her history working in different industries and dove into the benefits of working in the healthcare industry. “Healthcare has an implication on how you implement security. It actually provides a good base-line for you to start learning about how do you implement security. How do you build a security awareness training? How do you build, perhaps, a strategy? You know: What are the tactics you might use to keep information private? Regardless of your industry, it’s a good base for getting a good understanding of that. And it’s transferable, regardless of what industry you’re in.” She also shared some job roles which she feels are ripe for women to uphold, such as software developers, management positions and the new, largely untapped realm of, big data. “With the move to big data, there’s a big opportunity for women that enjoy a large amount of data analysis and reconciliation.” She also recommends furthering your knowledge for free on YouTube! “Everyone likes saying ‘Hey, guess what- I figured this out.’ Take the opportunity. Go to YouTube, take a look and see what people have explained.” “Even if you can’t learn on the job, you can extend your learning outside of the job by actually going online.” She even gave more specific recommendations on getting started down the certification path, recommending starting your certification training with Security+ and getting at least 2-3 certifications to start.
Episode 3.2: Women in Cyber Security
In Episode 3.2, our final interview with Ravila, she goes in more depth about the challenges women face in the cyber security industry and how women can look past those challenges. “There’s nothing to say that you can’t look at that person and say, ‘You know, I want to be in that position as well. What do I need to do to get there?'” “I think the challenge for women is to look beyond stereotypes and also look beyond your borders.” She gave great advice to women who might struggle in networking. “If you’re a little bit shyer, actually join a special interest group- you can join something like that- or you can join some of the efforts that are open-source and online and you can work with a team… it’s a good way to start networking.” And urged women to challenge themselves. “Know your personality, and even with your personality, sometimes stretch beyond that.” She shared some traditionally female traits that bring a much needed balance to the field. “Women can actually bring a balance… because we’re in it from a protection point of view. And then there’s just the sheer curiosity, right? So, you’re curious about something. You want to be organized. You can’t be chaotic with security. If you’re chaotic, guess what, you’re going to get hacked.” But encouraged women to find the talents that are unique to their personalities. “Understand where your talents are at and then capitalize on those.” And even shared what employers can do to gain a more diverse team, through her own personal experiences. “The person that hired me [for my first security job]…what he saw is that even though I didn’t have the experience required, I had the willingness to learn.” “People need to put aside any biases they have, any preconceived notions, and really work on your emotional intelligence and see where people can actually have a strength.”
We hope you enjoyed this interview and will pass it along! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and see all the amazing women we have in store.