Student Spotlight: Susanna Smelyansky, CISSP
Welcome back to CyberVista’s Student Spotlight Series. In this series we talk to newly-minted CISSPs who used the CyberVista system to earn their cert. This episode we talked with Suzie Smelyansky, Platform Security Specialist at Salesforce. The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
CyberVista: Tell us about your professional cybersecurity journey.
Suzie: I wanted to do sports journalism, but my family of IT professionals and engineers said “nope.” So I ended up majoring in Management Information Systems and started in IT advisory and auditing for a couple of years before joining Salesforce.
CV: Why did you decide to earn your CISSP certification?
SS: I had been putting it off for four years [laughs]. Then when I switched into a more customer-facing role, my manager felt it was important to have an extra layer of credibility and a baseline understanding of cybersecurity.
CV: Why did you choose CyberVista as your CISSP training provider?
SS: I knew I didn’t want to take a boot camp, because the 7am – 7pm structure followed by studying all night would have been logistically and mentally difficult for me. It’s difficult for me to sit still and have information thrown at me for 12 hours a day for a week. I liked the concept of a live class one night a week that consisted of pre and post work. The structure really helped pace my study and ensured that I didn’t leave all the studying until the end.
CV: What CyberVista resource was most helpful?
SS: The live sessions were great. It was a shared learning environment, but I could still ask Troy [Suzie’s instructor] to slow down or additional questions. The light board helped me retain the information because I could see Troy teaching, speaking, and writing to me in real-time.
I was also getting the information in more ways than one. I took that little booklet [CyberVista’s Summary Notes] with me before my exam, and that gave a good, last minute high-level overview of the material.
The one-on-one tutoring sessions leading up to my exam were also extremely helpful. It helped just talking to a real person. That really de-stressed me and the test day strategies and tips covered in those sessions really helped me on test day.
CV: Do you have a favorite CISSP exam domain/topic?
SS: Is there really such thing a favorite domain?! If I had to choose, I’d say Domain 1 [Security and Risk Management] because that’s what I’ve been doing most of my career.
CV: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
SS: I love spending time and hiking with my senior Pit-mix dog. I volunteer at dog rescues. I am a huge hockey fan and enjoy hosting dinners for friends.
CV: Any advice for other women in the industry in order to reduce the female cyber workforce shortage?
SS: I think particularly with women, there’s an imposter feeling, especially in cybersecurity sector. So part of why I wanted to take the exam was to learn the material and be confident when I was speaking to the areas. I spend a lot of time speaking about encryption and the network, and I’m also fairly outspoken.
Earning this certification is empowering because once you pass, you feel confident and part of that confidence stems from truly understanding the material after studying. And this carries into conversation. So my advice would be to arm yourself with knowledge and always learn!
Do You Want to Pass?
Be like Suzie and recognize that knowledge is power. We want to motivate people to take and pass the CISSP exam. 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 CISSP Training Course.