Top 10 female leaders in cybersecurity

By Paddy Smith
In an industry dominated by men, these female leaders have broken through the mould to significantly impact the cybersecurity field and promote diversity

Cybersecurity is crucial in every industry due to the volume of firms relying on cloud-based infrastructure and remote operations. Consequently, the demand for highly qualified security personnel has never been stronger. 

Many of these experts have used the knowledge and expertise they've gained throughout their careers to create cutting-edge security products, services, and programs. Their cybersecurity expertise has made a significant impact across businesses, aiding the proactive promotion of workplace diversity and employees' professional development.

In no particular order, here are some of the most notable women leaders in the cybersecurity industry.

 

10. Jane Frankland: co-founder of Cyber Security Capital

Jane Frankland has worked in cybersecurity for almost two decades, holding senior executive positions at numerous large public companies and co-founding Cyber Security Capital, a training and consulting firm.

Her varied and outstanding resumé includes nominations for Young British Designer, LinkedIn Top Voices, a Top 20 Worldwide Cybersecurity Influencer, and a Top 100 UK Technology Influencer. Frankland also founded her own international firm and is an active member of OWASP, CREST, and Cyber Essentials.

9. Bonnie Butlin: Advisory Board Member at Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity

Bonnie Butlin founded the Women in Security and Resilience Alliance (WISECRA), a global network of women in security. Around the world, organisations and corporations seek Bonnie to help boost female security. 

Butlin has actively mentored and participated in public speaking engagements for women and young professionals in both physical and cybersecurity.

8. Michelle Drolet: CEO of Towerwall

Michelle Drolet specialises in cybersecurity, cloud, and virtual CISO services businesses. Drolet grew up in a military family and went on to earn a degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. Drolet’s initial dream career was with the FBI, however, once the PC revolution hit, she witnessed the rampage of Trojan viruses and malware, so eyed opportunities applying forensics, mitigation and security services to desktops, networks and people.

She used her expertise to establish Towerwall as a market-leading cybersecurity service and solution provider in 1999. In 2019, she was recognised as one of the Top 25 Women in Cybersecurity by The Software Report and as one of the Top CEOs to Watch in 2020 by CIO Views.

 

7. Gal Helemski: Co-Founder and Chief of Innovation & Product of PlainID

PlainID is a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm that provides business-policy-based authorisation. Gal Helemski co-founded PlainID in 2015, a firm that allows enterprises to govern, administrate, and control who has access to assets throughout their digital ecosystem.

"I think it's important for women to know it is possible," she said. "Sometimes, I think it may seem to women that it's not an option. If you made a decision that this is what you want to do, this is your choice of career path, then go after it."

6. Paige S. Barry: Vice President of Customer Solutions at DefenseStorm

Paige S. Barry is an influential and trustworthy leader with more than 20 years of consistent success in serving the technological needs of financial institutions.

DefenseStorm integrates and automates real-time cybersecurity and cyber compliance created for banking, allowing financial institutions to achieve cyber safety and soundness in accordance with legislation and their own policies. For more than 100 different banking products and software development projects, she has developed rigorous and scalable portfolio governance processes.

 

5. Dervilla Lannon: Vice President of People at Verkada

Dervilla Lannon is able to combine her legal and technical expertise with her passion for people to help Verkada attract, retain, and grow world-class personnel. She is passionate about Verkada's goal to make the world a safer place for all.

"I envisioned my team creating structures where people can grow, develop, and thrive in their careers," she said. "With the initiatives that have been implemented at Verkada, I think we're moving in the right direction."

4. Chani Simms: co-founder of Meta Defence Labs UK

Chani Simms is a TEDx Speaker and an award-winning cybersecurity leader. A recipient of international acclaim and multiple honours, she expanded Meta Defence Labs UK into Sri Lanka to provide cybersecurity expertise and capabilities to South Asian communities.

Chani founded SHe CISO Exec., an effort that aims to elevate a new generation of talent in the realm of information security. It is a cybersecurity boot camp and mentoring programme primarily for women.

 

3. Tanya Janca: founder, security trainer and coach of SheHacksPurple

Tanya Janca is an advocate for diversity and inclusion. She co-founded the international women's organisation WoSEC (Women of Security), a free community for women to gather in person in cities across the world to network, vent frustrations, discover peers, and make new friends. 

For her part, she mentors, advocates for, and empowers other women in her field. SheHacksPurple is a learning platform dedicated to teaching Application Security, DevSecOps, and Cloud Security.

 

2. Summer Craze Fowler: CCSO of Argo AI

In her role as the Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer of Argo, Summer Craze Fowler creates and leads the IT and cybersecurity teams' overall strategy and execution. She is a cyber crisis management and business continuity expert. 

During her interview with Drew Rose, CSO and Co-founder of Living Security, at The Transformational CISO event, Fowler said she got into cyber because she loves people ‒ a rather unusual motive to enter her field. However, she later proved her dedication to her mission, taking on the role of Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, starting in February 2022 and leading Argo's DE&I, community workforce development, community engagement, and philanthropy programmes.

1. Wendy Thomas: President of Secureworks

Wendy Thomas champions the company's mission to deliver innovative, best-in-class security solutions integrated into customers' security operations. She leads Secureworks' Customer Success organisation, which includes product and engineering, operations, customer experience, and the threat intelligence-focused Counter Threat UnitTM, and is responsible for the company's strategic transformation into a software-driven company with security at its core. 

Outside of Secureworks, Thomas acts as a Liaison for AFS Intercultural Programs, an international youth exchange organisation. She also manages the Pride Employee Resource Group, which brings together Secureworks teammates to network and advance the inclusion and education activities.

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