Name: Andrea Manning
Job Title: Founder
Location: Galway, Republic of Ireland
Tell us an interesting or fun fact about you
I graduated first class honours BSc Business Information Systems degree at the age of 48.
What drew you towards a career in cyber security?
Realising cybersecurity was the way to sell GDPR to clients . The stories and psychology behind cybercrime drew me in, and my enthusiasm for it then drew my clients in.
What do you enjoy most about what you do in the industry?
Genuinely doing something that makes a difference and is of real value to small businesses.
What things are the most challenging in your role?
Juggling marketing, sales, building and running a business while continuously learning and for now, doing it all on my own.
Have you come up against any challenges or roadblocks and if so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
Being seen as ‘less’ because my role is the human side of cybersecurity and not the technical side. In part this is down to imposter syndrome too, and can be overcome through knowing your value, continuous learning and the confidence that comes with that.
What have been your career defining moments?
Being accepted onto the Enterprise Ireland accelerator program to build CyberPie. This was recognition and validation that I have a business that has the potential to generate €1M in sales and that I am the person to make that happen.
What changes have you seen in the cyber security industry in the time that you have been in it?
More work to make the industry more inclusive, and supports for training and upskilling. A rising recognition by even the smallest of businesses that cybersecurity is now an essential.
What trends or changes do you think we will see in cyber security in the next 10 years?
Outside of the corporate environment, Cybersecurity will be something everyone does themselves. Much like IT moved from being outsourced 20 years ago (remember getting the IT guy to even install basic programs), the business owner and professional will include cybersecurity in their list of many roles. The number of cybercrimes, and the sophistication will continue to increase. New tech will emerge but there will never be a silver bullet, and the human factor will still remain the biggest hurdle.
How much job demand have you seen for cyber security professionals, and what things to you think will shape this demand in the coming years.
The roles advertised currently are certification heavy and there are not enough entry level positions. Students are graduating with cybersecurity degrees and struggling to find employment. A lot is made of the skills gap but there is a disjoint here that needs addressing. It is still rare to find cybersecurity roles being advertised that focus on both the soft and human skills – in the future roles that bridge the technical with the human are going to gain prominence in organisations of all sizes.
Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted on your career, and if so in what ways?
The decision to make CyberPie a reality was my pandemic pivot. The abundance of time and focus the pandemic created turned a negative into a positive.
What soft skills do you think are important for women in cyber security to have?
Communication and resilience.
Why do you think more women should consider a career in cyber security?
The industry would benefit from the leadership skills women bring to the table. Much like the countries that were led by women heads of state fared better during the pandemic. A more nuanced approach to education, recruitment and indeed marketing of the industry will encourage better adoption of cybersecurity and ultimately result in a better representation.
The areas of specialisation are numerous and its an ideal career to find your niche, and then excel.
How does someone from another industry make the move into cyber security?
I would recommend finding a mentor within the industry. A lot of self-guided learning making use of the wealth of free resources like webinars and courses.
What advice would you give to a women looking to make the move into cyber security?
Know your own strengths and weaknesses. Look to an environment where you feel you can make a difference. Explore the many roles and be open to roles you may not have considered.
In your perspective – what are the biggest cyber security threats to companies presently?
The rise of off-the-shelf scams and ransomware
The use of AI-based deepfake technology to create realistic audio or video impersonations of real people that can deceive—and help to defraud—unsuspecting users.
Increasing use, and reliance, on IoT devices many of which have little or no security
Do you think it is important to close the gender gap in cyber security and if so, how do you think this could be done?Proportional representation is key in any industry. There is a good deal of work being done in schools however it is often done too late when career choices have already been made and subjects chosen. There is a great emphasis on the STEM subjects, sometimes to the exclusion of some of the soft skills that are so necessary for cybersecurity. A more balanced and informative approach could highlight the many different roles in cybersecurity and be more appealing to some. For those wishing to transition into cybersecurity and make a career change we should be offering more supports to facilitate and indeed encourage these moves.
While the situation in the cyber security industry has marginally improved in recent years, it is still a very male dominated world. What are your thoughts on this, and have you seen an improvement yourself?
We can only enact change if we have a seat at the table. There is still much to do to change some of the biases, and losses due to women leaving the industry.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Be the change you want to see. Cybersecurity is still a very new career. At this early stage we have the power to shape how it evolves by through strong role models and raising each other up.
“The Rise of the Cyber Women: Volume 2” is available now via the links below: