Name: Sai K. Honig
Job Title: Co-Founder, New Zealand Network for Women in Security and Board Member of the Black Cybersecurity Association
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Tell us an interesting or fun fact about you
I love learning jazz flute.

What drew you towards a career in cyber security? 
Helping people to stay safe using online tools.

What do you enjoy most about what you do in the industry?
New things to learn every day.

What things are the most challenging in your role?
Being accepted.

Have you come up against any challenges or roadblocks and if so, what were they and how did you overcome them?

  • Having dyslexia means that I may take longer to read or understand something
  • Acceptance from others that I am a cybersecurity professional because I do not have a computer science degree or did not work only in IT my entire career.
  • Working on certifications and playing with cloud tech helped me to learn and grow.

What have been your career defining moments?

  • Speaking at Cloud Asia in 2016
  • Being on the board of (ISC)2 2017-2019
  • Cofounding New Zealand Network for Women in Security in 2019
  • Recognized as a global influencer in cybersecurity by IFSEC in 2020
  • Added to the Cloud Security Alliance Asia Pacific Research Advisory Council
  • Being on the board of Black Cybersecurity Association starting 202

What trends or changes do you think we will see in cyber security in the next 10 years?

  • Companies and organizations will still be claiming that there is not enough staff because hiring practices have not changed. Hiring practices such as:
    • requiring years of experience or experienced – required certifications for entry level jobs
    • requiring computer science degrees or cybersecurity degrees
    • requiring broad experience across several domains without understanding that

Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted on your career, and if so in what ways?

  • I had to take on more work during shutdowns because I did not have commitments (e.g. child care, elder care) at home
  • Did not get recognition for doing all the extra work which led to burnout

What soft skills do you think are important for women in cyber security to have?

  • Negotiation, assertiveness
  • Ability to speak about cybersecurity to non-technical people
  • Public speaking

Why do you think more women should consider a career in cyber security?
Diversity in any field adds to the sum knowledge in that field

How does someone from another industry make the move into cyber security?

  • Leverage the work that you have done and how it relates to cybersecurity
  • Research topics in cybersecurity and write about what you have learned
  • Share tips on how to stay secure online with public groups

What advice would you give to women looking to make the move into cyber security?

  • Be aware of burnout
  • Be comfortable with not knowing anything
  • Recognize imposter syndrome and work through it

In your perspective – what are the biggest cyber security threats to companies presently?

  • Top leaders (non-technical) do not understand cloud
  • Too many companies are stagnated by “analysis paralysis” and are not moving fast enough to cloud
  • Too many leaders do not see the value of protecting company assets prior to cybersecurity incident
  • Too many leaders do not see the value of training their staff in preventing cybersecurity incidents

Do you think it is important to close the gender gap in cyber security and if so, how do you think this could be done?

  • Need open minds when hiring women
  • Hiring women of color is not the same as hiring white women
  • People need to be aware that their language may cause offense and should be open to accepting notice that their language is offensive.

While the situation in the cyber security industry has marginally improved in recent years, it is still a very male dominated world. What are your thoughts on this, and have you seen an improvement yourself? 

  • It is still very much “pale, male and stale”. I have not seen large movement to change.
  • Majority of hiring practices have not changed. Still requiring degrees, certifications and years of experience for even entry-level jobs.

“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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