CISO Saloni Vijay On Women In Cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

In the dynamic arena of cybersecurity, few figures resonate as profoundly as Saloni Vijay, the Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at _VOIS (Vodafone Intelligent Solutions), a pivotal entity within the Vodafone Group. With a career spanning over two decades, Saloni’s journey is a testament to perseverance, expertise, and an unyielding commitment to safeguarding digital space.

Her professional odyssey commenced amidst the intricacies of software development, navigating through the complexities of telecom technology, until finally converging at the forefront of cybersecurity.

Saloni’s trajectory embodies not just professional growth but also a profound narrative of gender inclusivity within the tech realm. As a woman navigating a predominantly male-dominated field, she has confronted unconscious biases and societal stereotypes head-on, advocating tirelessly for inclusivity and equal opportunities.

Beyond her professional achievements, Saloni’s narrative speaks to the delicate balance between ambition and well-being—an aspect often overshadowed in the fast-paced world of cybersecurity.

In an exclusive interview with The Cyber Express, Saloni provides her perspective on the cybersecurity landscape, drawing from her personal journey. Her story is more than just professional growth; it’s a heartfelt reflection on the challenges and successes faced by women in the cybersecurity industry.

Excerpt From Saloni Vijay’s Interview

TCE: Can you share with us your personal journey in the field of cybersecurity? What initially attracted you to this field, and how did you navigate your career path to become the Vice President | CISO at VOIS?

Saloni: I started my career in software development and eventually transitioned into core telecom technology and then into IT. While serving as Head of IT, I harbored a strong curiosity for core security practices. This drive led me to embrace a pivotal role in technology security as the Head of Risk and Security Assurance at Vodafone Idea.

To enhance my skills in the cybersecurity field, I pursued post-graduation studies in cybersecurity at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), eventually ascending to the position of CISO at _VOIS, a Vodafone Group company.

TCE: Throughout your career, have you encountered any instances of gender discrimination or biases in the cybersecurity industry? If so, how did you handle these challenges?

Saloni: Yes, I have noticed gender discrimination or biases not only in cybersecurity but in all industries. Sometimes, it’s unconscious bias, and dealing with it requires speaking up when such biases are observed. I strongly believe that actions, rather than gender, should speak, eventually changing people’s perceptions.

TCE: Building on the previous question, what specific difficulties, if any, did you face as a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field like cybersecurity?

Saloni: Equal opportunities and a seat at the table are essential. Due to perceived fragility, women are often assumed incapable of handling specific tasks. Balancing professional and personal life becomes challenging as they intertwine. However, the pandemic has brought about a positive change by introducing flexible working hours for women.”

TCE: As a leader in cybersecurity, what strategies have you found effective in encouraging more women to pursue careers in this field?

Saloni: Early exposure at a young age through educational programs and mentorship initiatives can spark interest in cybersecurity. Additionally, visibility of role models through conferences, seminars, and media coverage is crucial for aspiring professionals.

Supporting networks and communities for women to connect, along with diversity initiatives and the creation of more role models, are also important.

Furthermore, promoting work-life balance, flexible working hours, a safe work culture, and women-friendly policies would further encourage women to pursue careers in this field.

TCE: Are there any specific programs or initiatives that you believe are essential for fostering gender diversity and inclusion within cybersecurity?

Saloni: Providing training on unconscious bias and promoting awareness of gender bias within the industry can help create a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.

Another initiative involves collaborating with industry partners and educational institutes to develop initiatives that address the underrepresentation of women in cybersecurity.

TCE: In your opinion, what are the major barriers preventing more women from entering and thriving in cybersecurity roles, and how can these barriers be overcome?

Saloni: Societal stereotypes, lack of role models, educational disparities, unequal role or growth opportunities, hostile work environments, and work-life balance concerns are major barriers preventing women from entering the cybersecurity field. These barriers can be overcome by implementing women-friendly policies and establishing a safe and equal workplace culture.


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