Pathways to Success: A Fireside Chat by Women in Cybersecurity

May 4, 2022

Experienced and new professionals advise attendees on pursuing a tech career

Women in Cybersecurity graphic

What do graduates in archeology, political science, and management have in common? In this case, careers in cybersecurity.

Over 100 participants gathered April 26 for a virtual fireside chat. Women in Cybersecurity: Pathways to Success was hour and a half discussion on the panelists’ journeys into their roles in cybersecurity and encouraging others to enter IT.

Lanita Collette, Chief Information Security Officer and Deputy CIO;  Dr. Dalal Alharthi, Professor of Cybersecurity at the College of Applied Science & Technology; Janet Hartkopf, Cyber Program Director at Basha High School; and Cecelia Bockius, Vice President of Education at Tanium led the discussion. The event was sponsored by the Office of the CIO, the College of Applied Science & Technology, and Tanium. 

The discussion was kicked off by Emily Carroll, the moderator for the event, focusing on the panelist’s backgrounds. With their non-technical degrees, they were quick to point out that their arrival into their current cybersecurity roles were non-traditional and informed by exploration and taking risks. “I believe firmly that women are very agile,” Cecelia Bockius noted. “We learn how to be flexible and tend to be less afraid of embarking on something new.”

Overcoming barriers was another point of discussion. “A lot of the barriers I encountered along the way were barriers I put up,” one panelist noted. “Overcoming those barriers involved confidence in my ability to learn things and allowing myself to fail.” 

Joining the panel were three recent UArizona alumni—Jayla Fry, Hope Kathleen Bentley, and Sonia Nazaroff—sharing their advice and experience on beginning careers in cybersecurity along with the tools and skills needed to be successful. All three alumni got their start as student workers or interns at the Information Security Office’s Security Operations Center, which is committed to offering valuable on the job training for University of Arizona students.

Much of the discussion was dedicated to offering advice to women who might want to follow a similar path in a career in cybersecurity. All the panelists agreed that having supportive mentors was important in learning about and preparing to work in the field. As Lanita pointed out, “Some of the most important mentors I’ve had have been already on the inside. Have that insider edge if you can find a way to do that.” 

Watch a video recording of the discussion here.


Screenshot of discussion