Name: Federica Vitale
Job Title: Compliance, Risk and Data Privacy Associate
Company: NCTech Ltd
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Tell us an interesting or fun fact about you.
I am a curious and positive mind with a weakness for dark chocolate, modern art and guinea pigs. 

What drew you towards a career in data protection?
I graduated in Law in the middle of a global pandemic, an unprecedented event that shifted our lives to being completely online-based. After taking part to a series of online internships and events, I realised how valuable data can be and how important it is to protect individuals’ rights and freedoms in an online environment too. Reading about the difficulties that businesses were having was a factor that made me get up and made me want to contribute.

What do you enjoy most about what you do in the industry?
I love its fast evolving nature, its technicality and the way it encroaches with other legal areas I am personally interested in. Privacy law is present in every single aspect of our lives now more than ever before and it continues to evolve alongside technological improvements and social changes. Having the chance to witness these changes and to put in practice new legislative requirements is what fascinates me the most.

What things are the most challenging in your role?
I would say that staying constantly up to date with the new legislative changes and requirements is the most challenging but also rewarding part. Every day there are new technologies coming up that ask for the introduction of new security measures.

Have you come up against any challenges or roadblocks and if so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
The major challenge I went through was finding a job as a recent graduate in the middle of a health crisis. The news about people closing their businesses and losing their jobs all over the world were not something that someone who recently obtained a degree would want to hear. In addition, most of the positions I was looking at were requiring years and years of experience. I felt like someone standing on a podium with a trophy in the middle of the desert. However, I have never liked the idea of seeing my dreams and life plans being taken away from me and so I kept applying and going through interviews. After all, It was a moment in which I was constantly learning new skills. I kept doing so until I found the job position I wanted with all my heart and that I am holding today. I remember that I prepared for the interviews as if I was about to have an exam, a difficult exam. I do not think there is a standard way of going through interviews but I do believe that revising the entire GDPR and showing the values I could bring to the business became the keys that led me to being successful.

What have been your career defining moments?
The starting point for my career was during law school when I was appointed as Director for a legal clinic, which was certainly the most defining moment for me. It was a moment that allowed me not only to improve my skills and to work as part of a team but also a moment in which I helped people in the community I was living in. Thanks to this position, I was able to provide free legal advice to members of the public and to handle real case files. The required confidentiality was what made me understand the foundation of every career. Taking part in international United Nations-related events and working alongside professionals who have become mentors for me is surely what makes me want to learn more and more everyday.

How much job demand have you seen for cyber security professionals, and what things do you think will shape this demand in the coming years?
The global pandemic has certainly pushed the demand for professionals in this industry. This is correlated to the fact that cyber threats have increased and there is need to protect the data we work with. The change of policies within companies, the remote working environments and the implementation of more flexible working hours within organisations is likely to shape this demand in the coming years. Before the pandemic, it was normal to think that our jobs had to be carried out at the office. The announcements made by giant tech companies have changed this perception. We will now be able to operate from everywhere in the world with the unique and common goal of protecting data.

Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted on your career, and if so in what ways?
Yes, the coronavirus pandemic has certainly taken away that aspect of human interaction that we were all used to have on a daily basis. My onboarding process was entirely online, for example. However, I do believe that there is always a positive side to look at. Being able to work in such an unprecedented historical moment is surely one of the things we should all be very grateful for.

What soft skills do you think are important for women in cybersecurity/data protection to have?
I would say that teamwork, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving are some of the important skills that women in these sectors should have. At the same time, I think that everyone can bring different values and it is the beauty of diversity that brings success.

“The Rise of the Cyber Women: Volume 2” is available now via the links below:

The Rise of the Cyber Women: Volume One – Paperback

The Rise of the Cyber Women: Volume One – Kindle/eBook

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