When Jennifer Boyd started her career in Information Technology many years ago, she was one of only a few women in her department. At that time, like in many other professions, technology was perceived as more of a gender-specific role. In this edition of our blog, Jennifer explains how she pursued the career she loved despite the challenges, and why she believes more women will be encouraged to join the industry as they see other women simply leading by example.
How long have you been at MegaplanIT and what is your role?
Jennifer Boyd: I’ve been at MegaplanIT for six years. My primary role as a Principal Security Consultant is to perform security assessments for clients against multiple regulations and standards including, but not limited to: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA Security), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and International Standards Organization (ISO 27001/27002). We also support our clients by providing remediation assistance, trusted advisory services, and policy and procedure development.
Has your role evolved since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and how so?
Jennifer Boyd: I have always worked remotely in my position, so my daily routine and job role haven’t changed much. Before the pandemic, I traveled to client sites multiple times a year; however, due to the pandemic, I haven’t traveled in two years. We all have had to adjust to performing remote assessments, using alternative methods to ensure we are validating the controls as we would during an onsite observation. I do miss the face-to-face interactions with my clients and am hoping to be able to travel again soon.
How did you get started in the payments industry? What led you to that career choice?
Jennifer Boyd: I was on the Compliance team for a large merchant company when the PCI DSS was first released in 2004. It was all new to us, so it was a bit overwhelming and a challenge learning the standards, but it was also exciting and rewarding to be involved in the process of the company receiving its initial PCI DSS Attestation of Compliance (AOC). I moved into the role of an Internal Security Assessor (ISA), performing internal PCI DSS assessments, and preparing for external Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) assessments. I then had the opportunity to expand my career by becoming a QSA, something I really enjoy doing.
Who has been your biggest role model in shaping your career path?
Jennifer Boyd: Michael Vitolo, CEO of MegaplanIT, has helped me shape my career path. I have worked with Michael in previous positions prior to coming to MegaplanIT. He encouraged me to continue learning, pursue security certifications, and not be afraid of change. He started the company from the ground up and has proven that if you pursue your dreams, anything is possible. I also have much respect for the current leadership team at MegaplanIT. They have taught me a lot and are always there to provide support when needed.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that is the case?
Jennifer Boyd: Women are making great strides in the technology industry, but we also have a way to go. When I started in Information Technology many years ago, I was one of only a few women in my department. Like other professions, I feel technology was perceived as more of a gender-specific role, but as more and more women enter the technology field, I believe it encourages other women to follow the same path.
Many women in the tech industry have felt that their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Is ‘unconscious bias’ holding women back in the workplace and, if so, what can women do about it?
Jennifer Boyd: I don’t think we can easily remove unconscious bias, but we can adjust to it. Women are becoming more confident in their roles and what they have to offer to companies. I’ve learned from personal experience that sometimes you are the only person responsible for holding yourself back. It starts with confidence and pursuing the career that you want. A woman should feel compelled to do whatever she desires and can help overcome the unconscious bias by proving she can perform the job as well as anyone else. As more women excel in their roles, it encourages other women to follow suit.
What do you see as the future for women in technology roles/payments industry?
Jennifer Boyd: I foresee women will continue to become more predominant in technology roles and in the payments industry. It’s exciting to see how things have evolved over the years watching women work their way up to high profile positions. Women should encourage and support each other in achieving their goals.
Were you given any advice during your career that has stuck with you? As a result, do you have a personal mantra or a famous quote that you live by?
Jennifer Boyd: No one is perfect. If you make a mistake, own it, learn from it, and move on. I have more respect for someone who takes responsibility for their mistakes versus passing them off on someone else.
What advice would you impart to other women about how to succeed in the payment industry or in a technology-based field in general? What advice would you give to your younger self?
Jennifer Boyd: Don’t let your gender determine what you can and cannot do. If you want to pursue a career in the payments industry or a technology field, go for it. It’s very rewarding. The one piece of advice I would give my younger self is: if you feel you’re ready for a change in your career, don’t be afraid to make that move. The only regret I have is that I didn’t make that change earlier in life but am happy that I finally did as I now have a career that I love.