Jane Frankland is a British cybersecurity entrepreneur, board advisor, writer, LinkedIn's Top Voices and one of the top 20 cybersecurity global influencers. With a degree in art and design, Jane started a security company when security wasn't even a thing and grew it to a 7-figure global business. Fast forward to 22 years later, Jane shares her insights on the future of cybersecurity, the importance of role models, and her career tips.
"Because I had my own company, I was in charge of my own career, and I didn't have to put up with many disturbing situations that other women have to in their workplaces. I was fortunate to choose my clients and the people to work with. I wasn't aware of unconscious bias, and I didn't know how to recognize, but now I am acutely aware of it, " says Jane.
A need for an inclusive culture
Frankland believes that the reason for an insufficient number of women in cybersecurity signals a culture problem. "It's vital to build an inclusive culture, stamp out bad behavior, and recognize the dynamics of what is happening in an organization both from men and women perspective. When you are aware of the biases, you can create a better culture and a better environment that works for all people. To succeed in the industry, you need to play a game, and the rules are different for women and men. But to progress as an industry, we all have to be together and not take sides. What women want is to get on with their jobs and be paid the same as men," adds Frankland.
In her book "IN Security" Jane points out that cybersecurity has an identity problem and is viewed as a solely technical field. However, it's interdisciplinary and diverse. It involves knowledge in technology, psychology, finance, business, risk, law, and regulations. Whether a person is skilled with people, administration, management, education, or technology, there is something for everyone.
"Many women want to come into the industry in their late 20s, or 30s. Usually, they are experienced in other areas such as in technology, journalism, HR, law, or auditing. We can easily integrate these professionals because they have got a good base knowledge and many skills that are useful for the industry. Unfortunately, there isn't a clearly defined career route for security. This needs to change because we're competing with other professionals, such as engineers, doctors, and lawyers who also face a talent shortage," says Jane.
Diversity on demand
Jane firmly believes that people are the future of cybersecurity, and the future has to be more diverse than it is now. "Twenty years ago, the industry was purely all about technology, but now there is so much more. There is a strong business side, and there is a technology side. To make your move into it, decide which stream you want to go down. Is it risk and compliance, governance and awareness training, or is it encryption, penetration testing, ethical hacking? It's a very diverse ecosystem. I came from art and design and what I believe is that diversity matters because it brings more skills, insights. Diverse thinking ability is critical in dealing with attacks, challenges, and regulations in cybersecurity. It's crucial to build teams around diversity," says Jane.
Jane Frankland's career tips
Create your brand
"Creating your personal brand is paramount to a successful career. Your brand is a valuable asset which can bring influence and include outreach. Develop your professional online profile and remember that your posts, tweets, and blogs are part of your personal brand. Be out there and never hold yourself back," says Jane.
Build your network
"Your network is your net worth, so you have to develop a relationship with it. When I write thought leadership content on LinkedIn, I engage with all commentators and treat everyone with respect because comments and likes are not just an ego-boosting number but a part of a conversation. Women tend to do a lot of invisible work. But when you're visible, you're reducing the risk of being underpaid and not getting the projects you want to work on because you can't be seen," says Jane.
Pick your niche or explore
Jane suggests that if you know what area you want to specialize in, pick your niche, and become a leader in the field. If you don't have a clear direction, test different roles. "Trying out different roles sets an excellent way into leadership, getting a grip of a bit of everything. If you couple that with proper management, you could make a good CISO (Chief Information Security Officer)," says Jane.
"Since I started my entrepreneurial journey, I draw inspiration from a lot of people out there. Depending on what I was preparing for, either it's a public speaking event or having a tough conversation, I would search for a role model. If I am speaking at an event, I often think of David Bowie and the way he made his audiences feel alive, how present he was and how much he enjoyed it. I have a vision of Bowie, and I want to be as good as Bowie on stage. I'm inspired by many people, especially Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Lady Gaga and Mother Teresa! Role models are life-changing, and whether it's a woman or a man, I'm inspired by how good people do their job and what values they project', says Jane.
Help Jane make a difference
Jane is on an important mission to ensure more women attend cybersecurity conferences and have better experiences when they do so. Share your experiences in this survey and encourage more women to join the industry.
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