Top 10 women in cyber

Cyber Magazine highlights the Top 10 women in the world of cybersecurity
Inspiring leaders for companies including Darktrace, Unilever, Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon, Verizon, Secureworks, Code42, Accenture, and Meta Defence Labs

The technology industry is making slow but steady progress in shrinking its gender gap: in 2022, it was reported that the overall workforce had a 6.9% increase in female representation in large companies from 2019 and 19.5% increase in leadership roles. Despite this being incredible growth, it only surmounts to 25.3% of leadership roles being held by women. 

Many large tech companies now release annual diversity reports outlining their strategies and performance, which aim to support the diversity growth; a 2020 study by Lenovo and Intel revealed that a majority of professionals across five countries regard a company’s DEI policies and performance as important considerations in their decisions about jobs to pursue and accept. 

The women listed below make up that quarter of leadership positions held by women. They are titans in business paving the way for other women, making space at the table for new faces, new ideas, and new growth, often leading to their companies being pioneers in sustainability, technological innovation, and employee development.

10: Chani Simms, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Meta Defence Labs Ltd, Founder of She CISO Exec

One of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Cybersecurity 2019 – as listed by SC Media UK – Chani Simms is a trusted leader in Cyber. She is currently an NCSC Certified Cyber Advisor, Managing Director, and Co-Founder of Meta Defence Labs Ltd, CE & IASME pool assessor for IASME Consortium and Expert Practitioner for The HiveMind Network. In 2018, she founded She CISO Exec, the sustainable global training and mentoring platform specialising in information security and leadership.

9: Lisa O’Connor, Managing Director, Global Leader of Security Research and Development, Accenture

Lisa O’Connor, who began her career at the National Security Agency, is now the Managing Director of Dublin-based technology giant Accenture, a role she has held for a decade, where she leads Global Security Research and Development at Accenture Labs. She is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) by ISC2; an INFOSEC Analyst; a Cryptologic Engineer, recognised by the NSA; and is a member of the Financial Services Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) as well as the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council.

8: Jadee Hanson, CISO, Code42 

With over 17 years of experience driving business success for startups and iconic brands, Jadee Hanson was named one of 2021’s Top 25 Women in Cybersecurity by The Software Report and one of 2020’s Top 100 Women in Cybersecurity by Cyber Defense Magazine. She’s a recognised thought leader, frequently quoted on security topics, including in Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and CIODive. Jadee currently serves as CIO and CISO at cybersecurity software leader Code42, where she leads enterprise security and technology strategy.

7: Wendy Thomas, CEO, Secureworks

Wendy Thomas is CEO of Secureworks where she champions the company’s drive to provide innovative, best-in-class security solutions that sit at the heart of customers’ security operations. She has 25 years of experience at technology-driven companies in leadership roles including Chief Financial Officer at Bridgewine, Inc, Chief Product Officer at Secureworks, and VP Finance at Secureworks, First Data Corporation and Director of Finance at Bell South. Thomas gained her BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and her MBA in Finance from Darla Moore School of Business.

6: Nasrin Rezai, SVP, CISO, Verizon

Alongside her role as SVP and CISO of Verizon, Nasrin Rezai is Co-Chair for the Federal Trade Commission – the Federal advisory committee that makes recommendations to the FCC "to Improve communications, security, reliability, and interoperability". She’s also a member of the Aspen Institute Cyber Security Group, which is the nation’s leading cross-sector, public-private cybersecurity forum, aiming to translate pressing cybersecurity conversations into action. She holds qualifications in Business and Leadership from San Jose State University, the University of Cambridge, and Harvard Business School.

5: Lakshmi Hanspal, Global CISO, Devices & Services, Amazon

Lakshmi Hanspal is Amazon’s Global Chief Information Security Officer, Devices and Services, where she leads trust, security, and safety for the global giant’s consumer electronics, autonomous vehicles, satellites, and more. Previously, she has been a Member of the Board of Directors for Spectrum Labs, the Cybercrime Support Network, BITSAA Silicon Valley Chapter, and HMG Strategy, Strategic Advisor for companies including Glilot Capital Partners, YL Ventures, and Silicon Valley CISO Investments and Global Chief Security Officer for Box and SAP Ariba.

4: Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft

Author, British Computer Society Fellow, Speaker, and current Chief Security Advisor at Microsoft Sarah Armstrong-Smith is an industry leader with over twenty years’ experience. She is currently a Board Advisor for e2e-assure Ltd, Vaultree, and ServBlock, and has previously worked for companies including AXA, EY, and Fujtsu. 

Among her many awards, she has recently been honoured by Cyber Security Hub as a 2022 Top 20 Cyber Security Mover and by Computerweekly in the 2022 Most Influential Women in UK Tech.

3: Mary Ann Davidson, CSO, Oracle

Ex-Navy Officer Mary Ann Davidson is Texas-based technology giant Oracle’s Chief Security Officer. Her role includes responsibility for Oracle Software Security Assurance, the secure development lifecycle for all Oracle products, and services that encompass every phase of the product development lifecycle. 

Mary Ann represents Oracle on the board of the Information Technology Information Sharing and Analysis Center, as well as serving on the international board of the Information Systems Security Association, where she has been inducted to their Hall of Fame. She was a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency.

Davidson has studied at The Wharton School and the University of Virginia where she earned her MBA in Finance and BSME in Mechanical Engineering. When she served as a commissioned officer in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps, she received the Navy Achievement Medal.

2: Kirsten Davies, CISO, Unilever

Global Transformation Specialist Kirsten Davies is Chief Information Security Officer for global manufacturer Unilever, which produces world-leading brands including Lipton, Knorr, Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, and Dermalogica. 

Davies’ colourful career has led to her living on four continents, where she has held roles including SVP and CISO at Estee Lauder, CSO at Barclays Africa Group Limited, VP and Deputy CSO at Hewlett-Packard, CISO at Siemens and Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton.

She has a BA in International Political Science from the University of Puget Sound, a Certificate in Human Rights Law from the International Institute of Human Rights, a certificate in Organisational Transformation from Prosci Change Management, and a certificate in International Business Law from The John Hopkins University.

She is recognised as a thought leader in the transformation process, including refining enterprise-wide ways of working, re-envisioning and establishing organisational cadence and culture, designing and delivering dynamic talent development paths, and innovating and optimising security processes and risk-mitigating controls.

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1: Poppy Gustafsson, CEO, Darktrace

Poppy Gustafsson has been a leader at Darktrace, the UK-based Autonomous Cyber AI leader, for nearly a decade, holding roles including CFO, COO, and now CEO. 

Darktrace was founded in 2013 and has recently been awarded accolades including Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential Companies in 2021, Fast Company's top 10 most innovative AI companies for 2022, and the AI & Machine Learning Award at the 2022 Go:Tech Awards

Gustafsson was named CEO of the Year at the 2021 Digital Masters Awards and Tech CEO of the Year at the UK Tech Awards 2021, and was awarded an OBE for services to cybersecurity in 2019. She is a qualified chartered accountant and holds a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Sheffield, where she was also awarded an honorary degree in Doctor of Science in recognition of “outstanding achievements in the field of Cyber Security” in 2022.

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