International Women’s Day 2022 – Spotlight on Two Amazing Nigerian Women in Cybersecurity

For International Women’s day, we profiled two amazing Nigerian women making various strides in Cybersecurity. They shared some insights about their journey .

Iretioluwa Akerele – Information Security Manager / Board Member , Cybersafe Foundation

Iretioluwa Akerele

Iretioluwa started her cybersecurity journey in September 2013. She travelled to the United Kingdom for her Master’s program (Msc) where she studied Information Security and Computer Forensics. After her Msc, she got a job in professional services.

How challenging was it to get your feet at the door?

I started positioning myself for opportunities when I was rounding up my masters. While writing my dissertation, I was connected to someone in Nigeria that told me to send my CV for possible job opportunities. I moved back to Nigeria in December 2014 and I started in a new role in January 2015.

What are the challenges you think women face while trying to get into cybersecurity?

Well, I think things are really changing, compared to what was obtainable many years ago. There are organizations that are focusing on women interested in starting a career in Cybersecurity. I would say that women looking to start a career in Cybersecurity should take their chances more. There are several resources available on the internet (free and paid) that can be leveraged on. The major challenge anyone can face irrespective of the gender is the fear of starting. This is where seeking for career guidance comes in. Have a mentor that can put you on the right path and monitor your progress.

If you had a chance to change one thing in your Journey so far, what would it be ?

I wish I had spent my early career years in in cybersecurity rather working  in Bank in While the knowledge gained from working in a bank was not as waste,  I am enjoying  enjoy this field so much that I wish I started my journey immediately after I graduated from the University.

How would you describe the opportunities for women in cybersecurity today?

The opportunities are endless. A lot of women are doing big things in this field. Women have founded their own Cybersecurity organizations. Women are filling important roles in the Cybersecurity field. “If you are a young woman who is just starting her career in Cybersecurity, I want you to know that there are several opportunities in this field that you can explore”.

How rewarding and fulfilling has Cybersecurity been for you?

On a scale of 1-100, I will say 100. The fulfillment for me is seeing people that I have mentored and given direction thriving and doing big things in the field.

What is the one advice you would like to give to women in cybersecurity and those who are planning to get into Cybersecurity?

My advice to other women who are doing well in Cybersecurity is to support the younger women that are coming up. I love to see initiatives that empower women to do big things in Cybersecurity. The Cybersecurity community is a good one. Several women have offered their time to mentor young women that are just starting their journey. To women who are planning to start a career in Cybersecurity, “You are on the right path. The year is 2022 and there is still a huge demand for Cybersecurity professionals”.

Chikodili Udeh – Information Security Manager / Co-Founder Hacktales

Chikodili Udeh

Chikodili’s cybersecurity journey started after she completed her bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University. Post-graduation, she went back home and one month after, she knew she couldn’t deal with pocket money life  anymore. So, she took the bull by the horn and put an internship application at an IT consulting firm. Two interviews later, her cybersecurity journey took off.

How challenging was it to get your feet at the door?

On a scale of 1-10, I would say 4. I didn’t really experience any major challenge other than proving why I was worth the internship opportunity. I was already coding as an undergraduate, so I was quite grounded on core IT technologies. I simply leveraged my knowledge to get in. I think starting out as an intern made it much easier. It’s why I’m a huge fan of leveraging internships as a career launchpad.

What are the challenges you think women face while trying to get into cybersecurity?

Judging from my experience as a cybersecurity mentor at Hacktales and CyberGirls,

the lack of representation is a huge problem for women aspiring to careers in cybersecurity. There are two key interconnected stereotypes that influence the lack of women in cybersecurity. The idea that men are better suited to technical skills and pursuits in general and the idea that cybersecurity is primarily or solely a technical field. These two baseless stereotypes combine to make it difficult for women to get into the field because they’re steered away from the training, classes, and opportunities that can lead to cybersecurity careers.

If you had a chance to change one thing in your journey so far, what would it be?

If I could change one thing, it would be having access to more opportunities geared towards empowering women in cybersecurity. I believe this would’ve helped me climb the ranks faster.

How would you describe the opportunities for women in cybersecurity today?

I think there are way more opportunities for women in cybersecurity today. There are multiple women focused communities including SheSecures, WiCys, CyberGirls, Shehacks Kenya and many more. All these communities provide deep technical and emotional support to women interested in starting a cybersecurity career.

How rewarding and fulfilling has Cybersecurity been for you?

Quite rewarding, I’d say. In the last seven years, my income has grown by over 850%. I’ve also built beautiful relationships with amazing women in cybersecurity.

What is the one advice you would like to give to women in cybersecurity and those who are planning to get into Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a highly rewarding career path if you’re good at your craft. My advice for women interested in this path is to get access to mentorship as early as possible. Internships provide a great opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in CyberSecurity classes and see where you can develop your knowledge. Hacktales offers an amazing one-year internship program where women who are seeking transition into cybersecurity can get started.

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Kelly
Kelly
10 months ago

Inspiring

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