Coming Back to InfoSec
Laura Owens spent ten years away from cybersecurity and came back with vigor, diving into new technologies, passing the CISSP exam, and co-founding a new business.
You’ve probably heard that earning the CISSP or CISM certifications can act as a springboard to a successful cybersecurity management career, but maybe you aren’t quite sure exactly how a managerial certification will improve your career.
Laura Owens can help.
Owens, a CyberVista alum and CEO of Treada Technology Group, an IT solutions and consulting services company, began training in June 2017 and passed the CISSP exam in November on her first attempt. Earlier that year, in January, she co-founded Treada Tech with her husband. We had the chance to hear how these past few years have shaped Owens’ experiences in the IT industry and how she sees her future.
The Journey Back to IT
She started working at the DoD and the NSA, “working in the crypto-world.” Owens acquired more than 25 years of experience in engineering roles, including stints at Sun MicroSystems and CyberSafe. However, what’s unique about her story is that she took a 10-year hiatus from the IT industry and explored other professions in the music, pharmaceutical, and telephone industries. Owens returned to InfoSec about five years ago. When describing her return she said, “I started to synergize what I know, as well as who I know, and realized I had everything I needed to solve technical problems. Then I realized federal government agencies are encouraged to work with small businesses and are incentivized to do so. All of these factors helped solidify the decision to set out on my own and to start building my company.”
Education Helps You Stay Relevant
Cybersecurity takes many forms and those forms are ever-changing and evolving. This was something that Owens saw first-hand when she noticed the changes that occurred during her 10-year departure from cybersecurity. Cybersecurity practitioners, managerial or otherwise, should always embrace any relevant educational opportunities. Owens agreed saying, “Continuous learning really is the key. Seriously, don’t stop. Not only are vulnerabilities changing, but so is the solutioning to those ever-changing vulnerabilities. I’m a big advocate of education, training, and sharing your knowledge base.”
Following her own advice, Owens decided to pursue the CISSP, a credential she had witnessed gaining steam throughout her career.
If you’re a cybersecurity business leader, then you know it has been deemed an industry standard to carry the CISSP credential behind your name. “When I reveal I passed the CISSP exam to my colleagues, I do receive an instant acknowledgment of credibility from both men and women. The minute I say ‘I’ve passed the CISSP exam to my peers, I can sense the assurance about my technical depth of cyber understanding,” said Owens. “It’s given me an understanding of how cyber components fit together to enforce defense in depth.” Within the cybersecurity industry, there’s a given understanding that earning the CISSP means you have acquired the foundational knowledge to manage an information security team.
When discussing her current opportunities with her company, Owens emphasized, “Now I can focus on IT projects that really affect my community. For example, the main objective of a past project was to develop a secure wireless transmission technology for data sensors that could detect the release of harmful or lethal substances in public places. As you can see, taking the steps to earn my CISSP has afforded me the opportunities to spend my days doing meaningful work.”
Send The Elevator Back Down
Owens pointed out that when you’re not learning, you should be teaching. For her, it was getting involved with Women in Technology, participating in their events, and contributing to their Cyber Tips column. “[In Cyber Tips] I speak about best cyber practices that nearly anyone can adapt to. Sharing what I know to help others protect their privacy is the main way I like to contribute to cybersecurity education.” Not to mention, Owens’ cyber tips are an example of (ISC)²’s Code of Ethics Canon – “advance and protect the profession.”
Catapult Your Cyber Career
Lastly, Owens left us with two valuable tokens of advice. “Embrace ambiguity,” she said. “If you come across something that interests you but it doesn’t fit, try opening your aperture before you dismiss it. Innovation comes from taking on new ordeals and challenges. Also, stay open to surprises and opportunities. There was a time where I thought Treada Tech would be solely an IT solutions company, but now my team is realizing that we can branch out our talents to becoming a product company, too.”
If you aspire to be a leader in InfoSec, then mirror Owens’ efforts and earn the certification that’s going to catapult and solidify your cyber career. At CyberVista we have two goals: help you learn the material so you can pass the exam and help you retain the information so you can apply what you learn for the long term. Learn more about CyberVista’s Live Online training courses including the CISSP, CISM, CEH, and Security+.