May 27, 2022
by Hacker Valley Red
We’re breaking down the concept of difference makers this week and we couldn’t help but call upon Mari Galloway, CEO of the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu, to be our guest during this conversation. As a black woman in cybersecurity who has dedicated a large portion of her career to helping women and girls become a part of the cyber community on both the technical and non-technical sides, Mari is a stunning example of making a difference and creating a path to expand cybersecurity beyond stereotypes.
- [01:29] Defining the difference makers and explaining the OODA loop
- [13:52] Introducing Mari and the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu
- [20:14] Finding her purpose in helping others find their purpose
- [25:06] Explaining the roles and paths available outside of strictly technical
- [30:31] Understanding imposter syndrome and forging a freedom-based career journey
Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and PlexTrac for bringing this season of HVR to life!
Life is complex. But it’s not about avoiding challenges or fearing failure. Just ask Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time. Want to learn more about how Simone controls complexity? Watch her video at axonius.com/simone
PlexTrac, the Proactive Cybersecurity Management Platform, brings red and blue teams together for better collaboration and communication. Check them out at plextrac.com/hackervalley
What is that like to see people go from taking that original red pill all the way through starting their career in cybersecurity?
When we talk about making a difference, many of us don’t get to see our impact as clearly as the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu sometimes gets to see. Mari tells us numerous stories of women throughout this episode, including herself, who became a part of this industry because of the instrumental work they do in outreach and education. For Mari, seeing women change their minds and majors to become a part of the tech industry shows how vital this work is.
“These are the moments we're waiting for, whether it's one person or 50 million people. We want you to feel confident enough to get the skills you need, get in the industry, continue to refine those skills, and be super successful.”
What would you equate your purpose to, and how does everything you do fit into it?
Like many of us, Mari isn’t entirely sure what her purpose is, but she knows that she enjoys helping the next generation and making a difference in the landscape of cybersecurity. Working with a nonprofit is not an easy job, even if it is rewarding, and Mari still prioritizes her freedom alongside meeting her purpose. No matter what Mari’s future holds, she knows that this work and this purpose to help others will always find her.
“I think as I get older, as I start to take steps back to just kind of look at what's happened and the impact that I'm having and others around me are having on the next generation of folks coming up, I think my purpose is to help people. It's to help other people see their potential.”
How do you feel like creating that safe environment has affected others?
Helping others find their footing in the cybersecurity industry can be extremely rewarding, especially when Mari found herself in a situation of uncertainty when she first joined the Cyberjutsu Tribe. The community of cybersecurity and the stereotypes around hackers can feel incredibly uninviting from the outside. Offering people, especially women and young girls, an opportunity to step into a safe space where they can ask anything has been huge for Mari.
“We call it our Cyberjutsu Tribe, and we want to make sure that anybody that comes to us feels like they can reach out and touch us and ask us questions and get answers and just have a conversation with us.”
How do we invite more people in and let them know that there are opportunities in cyber outside of technical roles?
Whether you’re hacking, selling, managing, or marketing, there is a space for you in the cybersecurity world. You don’t have to code or to be extremely technical to fit in this industry anymore, and you don’t have to have a certain look. The Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu prioritizes educating people on every role involved in the industry and showing them that they don’t have to be a tech wizard or a computer guru to find a satisfying and profitable position.
“You don't have to look like this to be a hacker. You can look like me…That stereotype, I think, is dying, as we see the number of women coming in and men coming into the space that don't look like that anymore.”
Hacking the Vocabulary:
OODA Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. A four-step approach to decision-making that focuses on filtering available information, putting it in context and quickly making the most appropriate decision.
CISO: The chief information security officer, a senior-level executive responsible for developing and implementing an information security program
Taking the red pill: The terms "red pill" and "blue pill" refer to a choice between the willingness to learn a potentially unsettling or life-changing truth by “taking the red pill,” or remaining in contented ignorance with the blue pill.
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