Wednesday 14 December 2016

The birth of the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN)

This post has been written by the AWSN founder, Jacqui Loustau AWSN is an industry network with the aim of connecting, supporting, collaborating, and inspiring women in the security industry. 

The network literally came to life after my son was born, during my maternity leave. Lack of sleep, happy hormones, the need to do something other than change nappies and clean the house, I decided to start something I have always felt passionate about. I wanted to connect with other women in security, to see if anyone else felt the same way as I did and understand if they had the same need to help our industry.

I wanted to share the story of how AWSN started, because I think it is important to understand where the vision came from, how it was formed and what we are trying to achieve.

AWSN founder Jacqui Loustai

Monday 12 December 2016

The best way to land your next role in Security…

This post has been written by Claire Fulford an active supporter of diversity and the AWSN.

An old friend recently remarked that I always know what I am going to do next, what my next job will be and how I am going to get it.  Apart from my recent decision to start my own business (call me if you need a coach!), I felt like I had mostly just been in the right place at the right time.  When I reflected more closely on his comment, in reality, opportunities come to me because I network.  Alot. Mostly because I enjoy meeting people and hearing their story, both of us not realising the value of our connection until later. 

Without networking, I would not have known about any of the jobs I have held since leaving university (and I wouldn’t have some of my great friends either!).  Every one of my jobs has been suggested to me through people I have known or those I have made it my business to know.  So many people out there hate networking and do everything in their power to slip out sidedoors or check email to avoid the coffee break at conferences and corporate retreats. 

The old adage…’its not what you know its who you know’ only became an old adage thanks to networking.   There are people whose life purpose is to bring others together.  Malcom Gladwell called them Connectors in his book “The Tipping Point”. They are "a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances" thanks to "…something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy".  We are certainly not all connectors…but we all need one now and then and the only way to find them is through networking.

I implore you next time you get the opportunity, make the effort to network. Accept an invite to lunch, hang around the sandwiches (not in a creepy way) at the next conference you’re at and strike up a conversation over egg & lettuce or find the person in your organisation who you can help and ask them out for coffee.  If all of this seems a bit daunting…try to prepare in advance.  Consider a topic to discuss with others and decide on your purpose for networking at that event…are you looking to meet new clients or understand more about industry challenges you might be able to solve. You never know who you might meet (it could be me!).  

What are some of your networking success stories?

Claire Fulford is an accomplished security professional. She recently started her own business after seeing the need to consult and guide organisation's on their security professional team needs.

 This post has been written by Claire Fulford & coded by Mandy Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Monday 5 December 2016

IoTSec Australia - Dr Miranda Blogg and the Future of transport

Post by Mandy Turner, AWSN Blog Manager, the current AISA Brisbane Branch Executive and self-confessed nerd.

I was recently invited by my friend and AISA colleague Lani Refiti, to attend an IoTSec Australia forum. I am interested in a wide variety of eclectic subjects, am a total 'computer nerd' and take delight in learning so I was very keen to attend this event about connected transport. 

Dr Miranda Blogg, Director of Connected and Automated Vehicles at the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads spoke about the Queensland government's work on the co-operative transport and automated vehicle initiative. 

Miranda is a civil engineer with over two decades experience in traffic and transport engineering, she is very knowledgable and interesting to listen to. I had the pleasure to chat with her prior to her presentation and was fascinated by the work she does.

Miranda's presentation included discussion around the future of driving with the C-ITS (co-operative intelligent transport system) platform that when applied to equipped vehicles and road infrastructure provides a two way communication between road users and roads. She explained that when C-ITS is successfully implemented in the future the use of autonomous vehicles will become more common. 

I was amazed that autonomous vehicles are really being considered as part of the roads strategy of the future! All I could think of at this point was the 1990 Total Recall movie with the AI cab driver, the Johnny cab!

AI Cab driver - Total Recall 1990 Tristar Pictures
Miranda's presentation was insightful, interesting and engaging. It was a delight to chat with her and she really gave the attendees a lot to think about in her presentation about the future of transport.

IotSec Australia is a not-for-profit initiative lead by industry representatives, including Lani Refiti and Mike Younger, that exists to encourage awareness and sound security practices in the IoT landscape. 

 This post has been written and created by A Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Saturday 3 December 2016

What Diversity Means to me - by Olga Kiconco

This post has been authored by Olga KiconcoOlga Is active in the Brisbane branch of the Australian Information Security Association and is working with the Branch Exec of AISA Brisbane, Mandy Turner, on the AISA Brisbane branch Diversity Initiative. Olga has a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications Engineering and EC Council certifications in Ethical Hacking (CEH) and Security Analysis (ECSA) and a Masters in International Business. Olga is a thought leader and strategist and is currently seeking a fulfilling career InfoSec

Olga Kiconco (Photo Credit - Olga Kiconco

What does diversity mean to you?

Over the recent years, diversity and inclusion have been a ‘hot topic’ from governments to business executives; kindergartens to higher education institutions, and through personal and professional experience, my resonance with this term has evolved. 

Right from when I was young, I have always been passionate about technology, and knew this was the industry for me when my mum set up a home computer when I was 7. Like any other curious kid, I used to muck around with different software and play computer games on that good old ‘TINY’ computer (Don’t think they exist anymore!). I later on progressed to fixing electronics around the house, as my mother was convinced I had magical hands.
However, the greater majority of women not only in my home country, Uganda, but worldwide do not have a similar tale. The gender gap in technology has impelled me to look deeper and understand why this is so. 

Boys > Girls
Back in the day ( least according to my mum), there were less than a handful of secondary schools that offered girls A’ Level education, moreover, most of the young women enrolled in Arts subjects. Those who stopped at O’ Levels either moved on to Teacher Training Colleges (popularly known as TTCs), Nursing school or took on Secretarial courses. I mean no disrespect to the ladies in these professions, but I just want to enlighten you about the deep-rooted societal disparity in the ratio of girls to boys taking on STEM subjects. 

There are some cultures that still have the view that the woman’s place is in the kitchen and do not bother educating their girls. Boys are given preferential treatment and are sent to school since their return on investment is higher than their female counterparts.
Fortunately, the number of secondary schools admitting girls for A’ Levels has increased since the ‘80s and some of the traditional all-girls schools have produced some of Uganda’s most prominent women in the STEAM fields. 

Breaking the status quo!
I completed my six year secondary education at one of those and developed some vital life skills that have carried me through the years such as resilience, team work and empathy for others. We were smart and driven young women who leveraged our different talents in different subjects to help and motivate each other and it was there I decided that I wanted to be an engineer as I excelled in Maths and Physics. I also broke the conventional maternal profession of banking and business. 

Being in such an environment made it appear to be the norm choosing fields perceived to be challenging and masculine, but I later found out my peers in mixed schools were initially bullied for enrolling in Science subjects.

My mother gave me the opportunity of pursuing my undergraduate education in Malaysia, as the IT industry in Asia was growing rapidly. I knew that this was a different domain altogether, and that my Engineering classes would have a smattering of fellow Africans. In the early stages, being one of the other Ugandan girls in my class as we were rather noticeable was quite unsettling. We had to learn how to step out of our comfort zone and made friends with our countrymen as well as some locals. We held group discussions and revision, and used our strengths in the various challenging subjects to help each other excel. I achieved my goal and graduated as a Telecommunications Engineer, something my mum doesn’t forget to bring up, given the opportune moment! 

There is no ‘I’ in TEAM
For postgrad, I did a Masters in International Business (I didn’t escape fate after all). The program is designed such that teams of 4-6 different nationalities and educational backgrounds tackle contemporary business challenges in management, strategy, finance, CSR, to mention but a few. Initially, this somewhat felt like the Hunger Games as it was very competitive and most of us had stereotypical perceptions of each other. As the weeks went by, we learned more about each other and used the varying team dynamics, vast experiences and skill sets to innovate feasible solutions to our assigned cases. 

These enriching experiences have shaped my view of the world and I feel that people should take advantage of the great opportunity of an increasingly globalized world to look at things from a different perspective. Diversity enriches creativity in solving problems and facilitates critical thinking, skills that are essential for one’s personal and professional development.

I believe each of us is a pixel in the bigger picture.

 “If you want to be successful, you should be able to relate to people from all walks of life.” ~ Zain Asher, CNN Correspondent

 This post has been written by Olga Kiconco and uploaded by A Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Friday 11 November 2016

There’s more than one definition for diversity

A post by Claire Fulford, business owner, security professional and passionate supporter of diversity.

People talk about wanting diversity but not everyone defines it the same way.  When I resigned from my role in Hong Kong last year, I contacted recruiters in Australia.  Many told me that my 3+ years of Asian experience meant nothing in Australia and that if I wasn’t technical I was going to struggle to get work.  The fact that I was a woman “helped” but I was going to have to “take a lower role to get some Australian experience”. I was returning to a country that prided itself on its commitment to diversity and yet I was told I needed to be like everyone else in order to secure a senior role.  Fortunately for me, it was my network that brought the right role to my attention. 

I’ve never really been one for the whole diversity thing. I’m more about the right person for the right job…no matter the gender, age, race, religion or preference for Beatles or Elvis (for the record…I'm a Beatles fan). 
Beatles or Elvis? Diversity! (Ímage owner unknown)
People are people and it’s unfortunate that we are at a place in our history where we require quotas to make sure there’s enough ‘diversity’ in decision making roles (and will continue to be in the future).  And let’s be honest, when most businesses say they are looking for diversity…they really mean women. Which is a shame given how ‘diverse’ diversity can be when you put your mind to it. 

After recently working on an article for CSO Online with Micah and Iresha from AWSN, I felt aligned with the interviewees whose responses reflected more than one definition for diversity.  There’s diverse culture, diverse career backgrounds, diverse thinking, diverse work locations and diverse values – all of these things and more make for a better equipped workforce.

With the current state of the information security industry, its challenging to find roles that fit our vast, varied and diverse experience.  If you need some support to get into the industry or to find your next role to stay in the industry (because this is proving to be just a big a challenge as entry), support can be found here at AWSN.  Establishing your strengths, deciding where you want to be and who you might need to meet to get you there can make the world of difference.  Come along to our lunches, reach out at conferences and connect with other AWSN members to find coaches, mentors and more.  We look forward to meeting you…male, female, senior, junior, Elvis or Beatles… everyone is welcome.

 This post has been created by A Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Saturday 5 November 2016

Have you seen the article featuring some of our AWSN members?

AWSN in the news - CSO . com 

The article highlights the thoughts on diversity of six champions of diversity who were recently nominated for awards at the AISA National Conference 2016. 

Thank you to the authors of the motivating article who are also AWSN members and supporters, Iresha Fernando, Micah Agustin and Claire Fulford.

The article is available from this link.

For other news items about AWSN and its members please see this page.

 This post has been created byA Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Saturday 29 October 2016

A Father's Love

This post has been written by Michelle Weatherhead 

I wrote this in memory of my loving father who I suddenly lost 16 years ago.  His death has changed me forever, but his love, encouragement and belief in my career success continues on.  

“connect, support, collaborate and inspire”

This is what it’s all about.

RIP Dad 

A few weeks ago one of my colleagues came into work excitedly telling me how his 8-year-old daughter had just been on an app coding course.

In his words…
My daughter had an absolute ball and was very excited to show me the game she made and is planning her next games. More than that she was able to bring home a good understanding of what she’d learnt and actually completed the whole course again when she got home… It’s brought out her experimental side which I love, trying new things just to see what happens.

How wonderful to see this father supporting and encouraging his daughter to programme.

This got me thinking about my career and what forces were at play around my decisions to pursue and maintain a career in “IT”.  There are many factors at play - I have worked hard, been in the right place at the right time and had wonderful managers and mentors.  But without question I point my career success to my parent influence.  My mother was a microbiologist and father an IT strategist for New Zealand Government.  Without question I was guided, and expected to study STEM at high school and university.

Laying the foundations in pointing me towards STEM studies was key, but I think more importantly my father lay the social foundations for entering a world of business in the IT sector.  Once I entered university my father encouraged me to meet with him and his work colleagues for a monthly after work “networking session”… code: “beer” at the local Wellington institution “Backbencher pub”.  It was here I learnt to interact with senior exec’s and the importance of connections and networking.  Learning to build and maintain win-win business relationships is critical to career success.

Quick detour to a diversity panel recently held by AISA and CBA in Sydney.  The inspirational key note panellist from CBA shared her story and perspectives.  In particular, a study about the impact of gender bias, marketing and in my mind – the impact parental choice has on children’s subsequent careers.  There are some fascinating statistics that demonstrate a correlation between children computer game marketing and female participation in the computer science domain.  To hear more about this please access the recording available from this link.

The impact of parental influence is something that I think about and action daily with my two beautiful children Olivia and Charlie.

Best wishes,

 This post has been created by A Turner for Michelle Weatherhead on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Saturday 22 October 2016

Congratulations to AWSN founder - Jacqui Loustau - Award winner AISA 2016

Diversity in Cyber Security Award - AISA 2016

Congratulations to AWSN founder Jacqui Loustau who won the diversity award at the 2016 AISA National conference!

    Jacqui with her award AISA National conference 2016
  • Over the past 18 months, Jacqui has worked tirelessly to get the AWSN off the ground. In addition to raising her young family and delivering on her work commitments, Jacqui has worked many volunteer hours each week on AWSN and partnering with other related organisations like AISA and the SANS Institute

  • The growth has been very strong with over 300 members in AWSN’s LinkedIn group. AWSN grows each day and has chapters established across Australia in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth with plan to develop AWSN chapters in Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin, if there are members interested in taking leadership roles

  • This year, AWSN has hosted networking events and learning opportunities in five states; facilitated mentoring and on-the-job training opportunities; contributed to women in security research; presented at universities and in the creation of a job profile project.

 This post has been created by Amanda-Jane Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Friday 30 September 2016

What Motivates you to volunteer?

[This post appeared on Linkedin on 18 October 2016]

A post by Mandy Turner, an Australian Public Servant, fulltime student, volunteer at a variety of associations, and advocate of diversity and inclusion.

Do you volunteer your time, skills, and resources to assist others either in an informal ad hoc way or via a more formalised group or association? Have you stopped to think what motivates you to do so? I volunteer in both informal ad hoc capacities as well as in a more formal framework in associations. I have reflected on why I volunteer and found I do so for several reasons. As part of my reflection I decided to read research journal articles to find out more about volunteering motivators.
According to an article, written over 38 years ago, people volunteer for a psychological pay off. The person expects to receive something in return for contributing as a volunteer (Anderson and Moore, 1978). They may for example expect to develop skills, meet new people, obtain a career advantage, or to feel a sense of self-worth as they have done something to help others.  
Cary and Snyder (1999) found six main functions served by volunteering which equate with the findings of Anderson and Moore (1978). The six functions were listed as values, understanding, enhancement, career, social and protective. A person may volunteer because they feel it is important to help others or to participate in their community. Some volunteers may be motivated to understand more about their community or learn through hands-on experience. Others may volunteer as they feel the work will develop or enhance them as a person and help them to feel better about themselves.  Some people may volunteer as it they feel it will assist them to gain the career or promotion they desire. People may volunteer for social reasons, they may wish to network with people who share common goals or gain new friends. Lastly people may volunteer to help protect themselves by reducing their own negative feelings or to have temporary escape from their own problems (Cary and Snyder, 1999).
More recent research groups these motivations into two main areas, whereby people volunteer because of a symbolic sociological reason and/or a functional psychological reason (Wilson, 2000). A sociologic motivation may inspire people with strong values and beliefs to give their time and resources free to assist others, whereas a functional psychological motivation relates to a person’s psychological needs being met by volunteering.
A study by Thoits and Hewitt (2001) found that volunteering contributes to improved well-being including better self-esteem, psychological health, and happiness. Given the assertions of Anderson and Moore (1978) that people volunteer for a psychological pay off are these factors discussed by Thoits and Hewitt (2001) also motivators to volunteer or are they serendipitous byproducts of volunteering and not part of the initiating motivators?
I volunteer in a variety of areas in an informal manner and also in more formalised positions. I volunteer in areas that I firmly believe in; in associations and for causes that I feel give value to the community. I am motivated by a desire to give back to the community, to use my skills, to meet with like-minded people, and to have fun in doing so! The serendipitous byproduct of volunteering for me is that I have met people who have become friends, I have developed as a person, improved my by default low self esteem and learned new skills. I also have had some amazing opportunities because of being a volunteer that I would not normally have had.
Do your motivations for volunteering equate to any or all of these? Do you have different views on what motivates you to volunteer? What are your experiences with volunteering?
Anderson, J. C., & Moore, L. F. (1978). The motivation to volunteer.Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly7(3), 120-129.
Clary, E. G., & Snyder, M. (1999). The motivations to volunteer theoretical and practical considerations. Current directions in psychological science,8(5), 156-159.
Thoits, P. A., & Hewitt, L. N. (2001). Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of health and social behavior, 115-131.
Wilson, J. (2000). Volunteering. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 215-40.

 This post has been created by Amanda-Jane Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Wednesday 3 August 2016

The AWSN pathways programme.

Pathways Programme

Introducing an initiative by the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) to support young women seeking a career in the security sector, the AWSN pathways programme.

The AWSN PATHWAYS PROGRAMMEis a professional development dual programme designed to prepare a select group of young women for a career in the security sector.  The AWSN aims to build a talent pool of high school and university graduates to fill, forge and create existing and new security sector workforce requirements.  The Pathways Programme will provide opportunities to partner with industry and other business environments to provide students and graduates with broad exposure to a variety of roles, and relevant training and development in preparation for a career in various fields which require security specialists with appropriate skill sets.  Admission to the programme will also enable participants to develop networks across the sector in addition.

This provides an amazing opportunity for students and graduates to be exposed to a broad variety of interesting roles, training and preparation for a career in various fields requiring security specialists.

Admission selection for the first programme to be run in 2017 will begin on December 2016. Please register your interest by liking our page 'Awsn cadets'

 This post has been created by A Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2016

Friday 15 July 2016

Welcome to the official blog - AWSN

The Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN), was founded by Jacqui Loustau.

AWSN exists to Connect, Support, Collaborate with and Inspire women in security across Australia and Abroad.

Read about the birth of AWSN here

AWSN facilitates networking opportunities, informal social events, mentoring and other activities aimed at supporting women who work in the information security sector.

This blog will feature insights, information, and editorials on  women in the information security sector, challenges faced, and motivational ideas. Posts will be created by members of the AWSN and guest posts are welcome.

If you have any queries please use the contact form.  

 This post has been created on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2017