In 2021, emerging technologies and accelerated digitalization are forcing IT departments to transform their cybersecurity strategy and approach. The transformation takes place simultaneously - from securing systems, building a secure cloud infrastructure, and securing the remote workforce, to employee training and awareness, and everything in between. Cybersecurity is tightly integrated within every function of the business. Cybersecurity transforms not only the business itself but, as a result, this leads to many openings in the field. As this trend develops, we will continue to see more cybersecurity roles open up such as; incident response specialists, information security engineers or penetration testers, and we will also see traditionally non-security roles incorporating more security-related tasks. While this trend is forcing everyone to learn more about cybersecurity and take responsibility for mitigating risks, it also opens doors to many opportunities to transition into a career in cybersecurity.
The unique side of this transformation is the organic diversification of cybersecurity professionals. While organizations are working on diversity and inclusion by changing the culture from within, the industry transformation creates a coherent interest towards cybersecurity and leads to exploration of possibilities for a vibrant career.
At SAP, we see positive changes where more women find themselves pursuing a career in cybersecurity. With strong allies across leadership teams and peers, we see rising female talent, not only within SAP Global Security, but across all organizational units at SAP.
"Here in SAP Global Security we strive to have gender balance built into our DNA, with my leadership team as well as throughout the organization. It’s one thing to set goals for gender diversity but it’s another matter altogether to build it into the culture of an organization.
I am proud to serve as a longstanding member of the Executive Women’s Forum. It is a top priority for me to create a supportive environment for all and that women have a seat at the table with stimulating opportunities to grow, at all levels of the organization.
My entire leadership team is committed to taking action to ensure we maintain a diverse workforce, featuring some of the very best minds in the security industry."
Tim McKnight, EVP & Chief Security Officer, SAP (LinkedIn)
The diversity in the cybersecurity field, of course, is not limited to gender or other human differences. The diverse professional background is important in solving the complex problems of cybersecurity, where thinking outside of the box goes beyond technical skills. We see women joining the cybersecurity field from all kinds of backgrounds. From those interviewed for this article we see women transition to cybersecurity across many industries; military, criminology, and finance, to name a few. It is amazing how we can use our varying backgrounds to work together and solve complex challenges. No matter your background, you can find your pathway into cybersecurity through continuous learning and curiosity.
"You don’t need to be a cyber security expert by education to provide your value-add in this fast changing environment. As a finance expert, I have started to build my cybersecurity knowledge less than a year ago, I am learning each day a lot and I am sure, even after years, that there will be a big portion of expertise that I can still add. A cybersecurity career should attract all curious, self-driven, proactive people who want to contribute to a better world."
yvonne.gruler, Co-COO SAP Global Security (LinkedIn)
What I do: Empower every employee & department at SAP Global Security (SGS) together with the related security stakeholders to execute their jobs at their best. We increase the transparency on the operational model, financials, and communication to drive efficiency and employee satisfaction within SGS.
"Transparency is key. Communicate often and keep digging until you find the right resources to help you with your goal."
What I do: I’m drive key ops initiatives within Multi Cloud Service & Operations. Program Manager for Multi Cloud Security, key program supporting hyperscaler security.
Some of the common traits we see in cybersecurity professionals are curiosity, persistence, a willingness for taking on a challenge and the ability to have fun along the way. Whether you are a newbie in the field or seasoned IT professional – you can find your passion and excel in your chosen cybersecurity domain.
"Working in cybersecurity at “frontline” is both fascinating and challenging. That’s why it’s fun."
Jaspreet Kaur, Incident Response Analyst, SAP Global Security Operations (LinkedIn)
What I do: I respond to IT security incidents triggered on SAP networks and assets.
"Stay curious and know somedays you’re on top of your investigations with clear logic and other days you feel like a beginner best to know neither state is permeant."
Kelly Sharadin, Incident Response Analyst, SAP Cyber Defense Global Security Operations (LinkedIn)
What I do: Perform initial triage and analysis for cybersecurity incidents.
"Security is often considered a technology topic. But it really is as much about technology as it is about people and business processes. In fact, those two are often the more complex challenge to tackle."
regine.schimmer, SAP Security Product Manager, SAP Technology & Innovation (LinkedIn)
What I do: I’m the product manager for SAP Identity Management; in addition, I coordinate the security content for events such as SAP TechEd.
Cybersecurity is an ever-changing field that requires continuous research, learning and an innovative approach to problems. The breadth of deep knowledge across cybersecurity areas that requires professionals to solve problems can only be achieved through working together as a cybersecurity community. If you are an experienced professional, lend a hand of support to someone who’s just starting. Provide mentorship and share your knowledge. Amplify the voice of your fellow female colleague and lead them to success. Because in the end, their success will be your success too. Teamwork is essential to success in cybersecurity.
"Lots of time, I am the few female in a group; sometimes the only one. I’ve seen so many female colleagues left the field throughout these years. Land a hand to whomever you can reach, we will rise and succeed together."
yijeng.liu, Cloud Solution Architect, SAP National Security Services (NS2) Cloud (LinkedIn)
What I do: Currently, I collect information of SAP cloud products regarding the aspects of architecture & security and assess them for cloud operation under special compliance requirement.
"I am from a very large family and when I was a young girl, people took the time to invest in teaching me and I will never forget this kindness. I try to pass this kindness on every day."
Vanessa Hanke, Information Security Compliance Expert, SAP Global Security (LinkedIn)
What I do: I develop, implement, and manage SAP tailored security frameworks aligned with industry standards, certifications, and adaptations. I am currently the Program Lead for the SAP National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework Implementation across SAP.
Striking a balance between one’s career and personal life is indeed a never-ending work in progress, especially when cultural or social expectations favor women who focus on their family. Believe it or not, but female cybersecurity professionals don’t live in underground bankers and never see their children. In fact they are role models for their children, family, and friends, showing the fulfillment one can get from finding their calling and living the best version of themselves.
Furthermore, we will see more changes and more opportunities in the industry transformation, where flexibility and continuous education are the factors of success for women in cybersecurity.
There has never been a better time to consider a cyber security career. And with that I would like to quote my favourite lines: “Choose to become the best version of yourself and not a product of circumstances.”
What I do: I support development teams from SAP Customer Experience portfolio in implementing Secure SDL procedures, tools, etc., and eventually uplifting the application security posture of the SAP Customer Experience solutions.
"Be bold, think big, think bigger!"
Laura Hoerning, Senior Developer, SAP S/4HANA (LinkedIn)
What I do: Supporting our team in delivering stable APIs that can be easily integrated by our customers and focusing on the development and operation of secure software.
"Stay curious, there is a lot to learn. Expect the unexpected and have fun!"
Kerstin Boeller, Senior Legal Counsel, SAP Global Finance & Administration, Data Protection and Privacy (LinkedIn)
What I do: I am responsible for liaising with different teams within Security regarding data protection aspects, i.e. how to handle personal data breaches properly.
If you are curious in cybersecurity career, it’s the best time to step in. Whether you are making a soft transition by taking on security tasks in your current role, or looking to step into a pure cybersecurity role, SAP has tremendous opportunities to grow your career. Check out the security career jobs at SAP and remember - security is part of every business function. You just need to find your calling.
Read more about fascinating stories of women in cybersecurity here.