Celebrating Women in Cybersecurity with Siroui Mushegian this International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

Interview with Siroui Mushegian, CIO at Barracuda Networks Inc

Women in cybersecurity and technology are still often underrepresented. From your perspective, what are the root causes of this gap, and what can be done to bridge it?

The root causes of this gap go back to the fact that these industries have traditionally been occupied by men. As cyber and tech have grown over time, so has people’s understanding and interest in what the corresponding careers have to offer. Fortunately, the number of women in technology and cybersecurity is growing by the day – the focus on STEM in our education system and the sheer volume of roles in this industry are creating entry points for women like never before. It is important that we continue to expose cyber and tech to boys and girls at an early age so their interest and excitement develops over years and the talent pool will naturally contain many qualified, strong women leaders.

Mentorship can play a critical role in career development. Can you talk about a mentorship experience that has been particularly meaningful to you?

I cannot agree enough with that statement and am fortunate in my career journey to have had some incredible mentors, particularly two who helped shape both my career journey, but more importantly who I am as a leader. My first big role in tech was where I met my first mentor. She was a person who led by example and depicted servant leadership in the truest sense. Among many things, she helped me understand the importance of providing caring, candid, constructive feedback as a tool for growth. Sometimes it is not easy to receive constructive feedback, but she gave it in a way I knew it was the best medicine I would need for my own career journey as a leader and a future mentor. 

Another mentor who has had a major impact on me pushed me to take on roles and responsibilities I did not believe I could. He made sure I took all available assignments head-on and showed me the real meaning of ‘fake it ‘till you make it’.  I quickly learned he was always nearby to support me if I needed it. Here I learned the importance of providing stretch assignments and responsibilities to your team to help them push through their comfort zone. It’s when you have some success beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone that you really grow in confidence.

What advice would you give to women aspiring to rise to executive positions in IT and cybersecurity?

My advice is this: you can do whatever you put your mind to. Take any opportunities to learn, even if it seems scary or outside of your usual remit. Find a mentor. If you have one, continue to leverage that person. If you don’t have one, reach into your network and ask someone you respect to meet with you regularly. Make sure you accept chances to work with the executives in your organization. This serves a dual purpose: first you get a chance to shine for the leadership of your company, and second you get a chance to learn from those who are at the helm of your ship. And finally, give yourself grace – every day won’t be easy. Remember, pressure makes diamonds.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, what message would you like to share with women around the world who are pursuing careers in technology and cybersecurity?

This is the most exciting industry to be in at the most pivotal time in history. Our industry is developing new tools and applications, growing incredible thought leaders, and dealing with some of the most challenging threat landscapes ever. Women have a place here; we have a voice and a seat at the table. Let’s continue to support each other’s journeys. I’m so proud of us and can’t wait to see where we go!  


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