Today we put the spotlight on our member Siobahn Wilson from Jamaica.
Women in information technology are generally small in number, when you focus on a particular area, like cyber security and privacy, that number gets even smaller. Here at Women in InfoSec Caribbean, our focus is to grow that number and empower women of all ages to take that step and make their mark in the field. Today you’ll get to meet one of our dynamic and absolutely phenomenal members, Siobhan (pronounced Shi-von) Wilson. Siobhan and I sat down for a little tete-a-tete to get to know more about her and her aspirations in the field of cybersecurity.
Q. Who is Siobhan?
A. Those who know her would describe Siobhan is an event planner, go-getter, someone who loves volunteering and helping people. Oh, and an avid gym enthusiast.
“I’m the person who, when I have a goal in mind, I really try to achieve it, to gather all the resources and if I’m not able to get those on my own I seek help from others.”
Q. How did your interest in IT come about?
A. Like father, like daughter. Siobhan’s dad worked at an IP service provider and she had watched him doing scripting and other activities for his job. From there a seed of interest began to take root. This continued into high school and into university as well.
“It was in university, after doing Programming I and II that I realized that programming was not for Siobhan but I also realized that I really had an interest in IT, specifically networking so when it came to selecting a minor for my BSc in Computer Science, I chose networking and that’s how I got on this journey.”
The journey continues, and so far, she has gotten certified as a SCRUM master, Agile software tester and is currently an IT Support Professional. Siobhan, however, notes an event that has shaped her growth.
“I applied for my first job after finishing high school. I applied for an IT placement but didn’t get it. They placed me in a customer service instead. When that happened, I was so disappointed because I’m like, on the paper, you asked me where I want to go, and I tell you IT and nothing. But I think that job, really groomed me in a way that I could deal with a variety of persons and personalities. And at that point they usually had this thing called a ‘mystery shopper.’ The shopper comes in, but you don’t know who the shopper will be. They’d ask a few questions and so on. The location the time was at a low percentage and I was able to give then a boost into the 90’s because the mystery shopper had come to be and appreciated the service they received. So, from there on socializing with persons has been good and comes with more ease for me.”
Q. What keeps you motivated through the difficult aspects?
A. Many have spoken about the rigours of being in a highly dynamic and demanding field such as IT and its subsets. It’s always interesting to note how persons stay hungry for more. When asked, Siobhan spoke of her desire to do her best for her parents and more importantly herself.
“I have this inner drive, there’s this goal in my mind and it keeps me going. I think that’s main thing, because along my journey thus far, there had been a lot of negative vibes, but I have to really be positive and remind myself of my goal. And, and just remember that It will not be easy, but I shouldn’t give up. I need to just continue to push through.”
Q. Why choose WISC?
A. A good initiative that offers guidance and a community….
“I found out about WISC through a male friend of mine. And he was saying that he really thought this was for me because he had an idea of my goals and so forth. So, I looked on the website and joined. Then I saw what was going and it gave me an idea of what the community is all about. I think it’s a really good initiative, like really good so much so that I’ve told other persons about it. I know so many persons who have an interest, but no guidance and this initiative offers that and more. I’m really glad I found out about it”
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. “I remember telling this young lady from Singapore that I want to be known as one of the best female professionals in cyber security, even though at time I was focusing on CCNA because I was doing networking…..I was interested in cyber security because of the introduction I got in my last year of university. So now that I’ve completed the book (and can do the certification exam), I was really thinking of the data privacy and policy aspect alongside penetration testing. Those two things jumped out at me. I want to get the other certifications as well, not just the Security + but also for penetration testing. So working in the field and getting experience……I also want to achieve other things not just in security, I want to release a clothing line for fitness. I’m still trying to decide on a name for my line. It would be a complete fitness brand with meal plans and exercises that you can do at home. Those are the tings I’m thinking of for now.”
Q. What is the one thing about Cyber Security that you would change in the Caribbean and why?
A. “I’d change the number of persons doing it, right now in the Caribbean we don’t have a pool of persons, especially females. And I think its probably the mindset. They probably started their whole school journey thinking that it’s for males. It would be really good to bring cyber security or data privacy to them, not just at the university level. Starting with just bringing awareness. Awareness makes the difference.”
Q. How do you think we can attract more women and girls?
A. Spread the word. Give support.
“Person’s who are apart of the initiative now, they need to be spreading the word, and I think we have been doing that. Even if it is to persons with a minor interest. When they join the group, it really blossoms. On a wider scale, the government needs to do something. They need to be speaking about it. They offer support for Math and English in schools so why not let us be aware of cyber security? So, we could have both the Ministries of Technology and Education supporting and giving us a boost in this area. So, something along that line.”
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A. “There’s one thing I’d add, your mindset is everything. If you don’t have a positive mindset with whatever you want to achieve, then you are already defeated. So just trey to have a positive mindset, even through the difficulties and feeling overwhelmed. Take a pause, breathe and try to get back to that positive flow, you can’t allow your emotions to control you. Also, as females we need to be stand our ground, because of the field persons will think that ‘oh you can’t be in a skirt and do certain things’ like lift machines (computers/printers etc.). There will also be other females who would encourage you to let the guys do it. But you need to stand your ground and allow them to understand that you can do it, not because you’re a female, you can do your job just as the others.”
How to reach Siobhan
You can connect with Siobhan by:
- Joining the WISC (Women in InfoSec Caribbean) chat group on Discord, only if you’re a Caribbean woman or girl. Click to join – LINK
- Connecting with her on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/siobhan-wilson-99732b158/
This interview was done and written by Daneille N. O’Neil, MSc. ISM, Freelance Writer with G5 Cyber Security, Inc.
Daneille is also a member of Women in InfoSec Caribbean (WISC). You can connect with Daneille on Linkedin. You can also chat with her in the WISC group on Discord (if you’re a Caribbean woman or girl). Women and girls can join WISC by visiting wiscaribbean.org and clicking the “Join Now” button.