We sat down with five of Canberra’s prominent female founders and executives to discuss their roles, how they got into the cyber industry, along with what advice they have for others looking to transition into the cyber industry.
Lauren Eickhurst – COO at Aristotle Metadata
Lauren Eickhurst is the co-founder and COO of Canberra-based start-up turned scale-up, Aristotle Metadata.
As COO, a role that Lauren says she fell into ‘accidentally’, no day ever looks the same. An example day includes helping the CEO develop strategies and then working on ways to execute them, developing tender responses for Government contracts, communicating with legal and our accountants, and most importantly - helping stock Aristotle’s office snack shelves.
With a background in the services industry and ambitions to become a doctor, Lauren initially took on the chance with Aristotle Metadata to assist with marketing and communications and has since seen her experience and expertise flourish. Although this hasn’t come without its challenges.
From being a young woman in a male-dominated industry, a citizen of a different country, and navigating imposter syndrome, Lauren has adopted the approach of ‘fake it until you make it’ which she complements with further study, complemented by additional study with Lauren currently undertaking her MBA.
Lauren’s advice for those looking to transition into a career in cyber:
“My advice for women or people in general, who are interested in transitioning into a cyber or tech career is to give it a chance and take the jump.
“You don’t have to necessarily know how to program to get a job in a cyber or tech-led organisation, a lot of skills are transferrable and needed. You can also teach yourself how to code with countless free online courses and many support groups and meet-ups for women in the tech space. If you have a cyber or tech idea, go to networking events and talk to others about it.”
Rachael Greaves – Co-founder and CEO of Castlepoint
A certified records manager, auditor, security manager, and privacy engineer; along with being named Australia’s Most Outstanding Women in IT Security 2022 and RegTech Association’s 2022 Female Entrepreneurs of the Year, Rachael Greaves is nothing but inspiring.
Originally from Canberra, Rachael currently resides in London with her husband (and co-founder) and two children while they drive the international expansion of Castlepoint.
Since graduating from college, Rachael has always specialised in information management projects which naturally evolved into cyber security as the broader industry changed to bring IT security into sharper focus and increase its priority across all domains.
Running her own company since 2012, Rachael emphasises that learning in cyber is a continuous process and being certified is not enough. It’s important to stay across new developments and new thinking around security risk management via outlets such as bulletins, seminars, conferences, and well-curated reading.
Although incredibly successful in her own right, Rachael has faced her fair share of challenges. Having children as a co-founder meant that Rachael couldn’t hit pause on her duties and her working hours stayed consistent while taking on the new role of a mother. In addition to this, Rachael notes that at the same time as having children, was the same time she ‘aged-out’ of the harassment she received from male peers, noting that this has improved over the last decade.
Rachael’s advice for those looking to transition into a career in cyber:
“You don’t need hard technical skills to have a career in cyber. Almost any skill you have will be transferable to cyber, because IT security is about seeing patterns, thinking ahead, and comprehending what you see.
“It’s about communicating, researching, and managing tasks. Everything we do is done with data, and all data has risk or value. The whole cyber industry is dedicated to preserving that value and minimising that risk, and it takes every kind of person to do that at scale, across all business processes, and overall systems.”
Heidi Winter – Founder of Kids SecuriDay and Cyber Security Consultant
Dedicating her time to giving back to the community by volunteering at conferences across the globe, organising meet-ups, and running popular community projects to educate young and old on information security, Heidi Winter is also the Founder of Kids SecuriDay, with the purpose of introducing youths to technology and security, along with being a cyber security consultant to organisations to protect computer systems and networks from cyber-attacks.
Working in the IT space for over 20 years with a Masters in Cyber Security Operations under her belt, Heidi spends her days researching trends to keep her knowledge of the threat landscape up how this may affect her clients. In addition to this, Heidi monitors client networks for suspicious activity, potential vulnerabilities, and implements security risks to prevent or mitigate potential attacks.
Heidi’s proudest career moment to date is when Kids SecuriDay won ‘Best STEM’ from the Australian Information Security Association, however the moments she treasures most are when her students step up to receive a cybergames prize or works out a cyber security concept the first time.
Heidi’s advice for those looking to transition into a career in cyber:
“Cyber security and technology, in general, is a large field, with many specialisation areas with varied cultures. Don’t be put off by the variety and understand that you can learn anything you put your mind to. Find a space that works for you as it’s a rewarding career that you can enjoy.”
Sophie Wade – Founder and CEO of Modern Methodologies:
Sophie Wade has many titles under her belt, from lawyer to mother of 3 to cattle farmer and now Founder and CEO of one of Canberra’s most prominent up-and-coming start-ups, Modern Methodologies, which is penned to go global come 2023.
Other than a brief stint as a lawyer, Sophie has always worked in cyber industry; noting that they didn’t call it cyber in the early days, with a specialty in Identity and Access Management.
A day in the life for Sophie incorporates a healthy mix of product development and the scale-up of Apporetum, along with mentoring and skilling up team members.
While a career in cyber means that you never stop learning, Sophie has had to accept that you can’t be an expert in everything ‘cyber’.
Some of Sophie’s proudest moments have been watching her children grow up and self-select careers in ICT and engineering, explaining “Australia needs as much ‘horsepower’ as we can throw at ICT/Engineering for the future – I am super proud that my kids will be there to contribute to the next generation of professionals here in Australia.”
Sophie’s advice for those looking to transition into a career in cyber:
“Don’t be scared. You have a lot more to offer the industry than you think – so much of a good cyber posture is about soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and strong communication.
“If you have a strong aptitude to learn and a good attitude to life-long learning, the industry is going to welcome you with open arms – just reach out. You’ll love it.”
Davina Mansflied – COO at Viden
Calling Canberra home for the past six years, with her husband, two teenage boys, and a beagle named Ace, Davina has taken up the role of COO at Viden after traveling the country in roles that have often been ones she is unfamiliar with.
Davina’s experience in the cyber industry started with Viden, noting that she was fortunate to undertake a diversity of roles that have enabled her to be agile enough to succeed and position her to make the jump to a cyber-related role. Something that Davina is incredibly proud of.
A day at Viden see’s Davina on her toes while managing a diverse and geographically dispersed team. A typical day includes anything from recruitment to stakeholder engagement across government, industry, and academia; to client meetings, strategy and development, and the list goes on.
As not from a traditional cyber background herself, Davina is able to empathise with the challenges that many cyber professionals must overcome when transitioning from another career background, such as Defence, and not having a traditional technical background yet practical skills that are typically sought after in the industry, like at Viden.
Davina’s advice for those looking to transition into a career in cyber:
“My advice to all females in the industry is to keep showing up. The diversity of roles and opportunities is forever increasing. I think it is important to break the public perception of the cyber professional, there is a place for everyone.
“When I see a successful woman in any field, I get inspired. I am inspired by the courage and determination that many women show, alongside the kindness to share knowledge, mentor and pave the way for the next generation.”