Laura Godoy is all too familiar with the “glass ceiling” that exists for women in technology professions. Over the years she has seen many women abandon their careers and their dreams because of societal beliefs about the roles of women. In this edition of our blog, Laura discusses her passion for fighting for equality for women in technology professions and how women already have the tools to change their working conditions.
How long have you been at Cybsec S.A. and what is your role?
Laura Godoy: I have been at the organization for seven years. Currently, I lead the provision of consulting services for compliance with the PCI DSS Standard in Spanish Latin America.
Has your role evolved since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and how so?
Laura Godoy: The pandemic changed all paradigms. Although in the past we could carry out some activities remotely, I always preferred face-to-face relationships. When the pandemic was declared, I had to adapt the methodologies, the way of relating - including more frequent follow-ups - training staff on the proper use of time, organizing agendas and, fundamentally, achieving a balance between personal and work life.
How did you get started in the payments industry? What led you to that career choice?
Laura Godoy: I have been a consultant in systems, risk, and information security for almost 30 years. In 2005, I joined a credit card issuing and payment processing company as a Systems Auditor. In 2006, the organization began its PCI DSS evaluation process and, as one of the leaders, I actively participated in the evaluation and commissioning compliance with standard controls. There I discovered that I could relate to all areas of the organization, processes, people, technologies, and government, and I am definitely passionate about it.
Who has been your biggest role model in shaping your career path?
Laura Godoy: There have been some very important people in my journey. I must start with the person who convinced me to study computer science (which in those days was considered a profession for men): Julio Ardita, an undisputed leader in the industry, a professional with a generosity rarely seen in our world. Thanks to him, I got to know the exciting world of security from his hand to the world of PCI. Later, I got to know the world of consulting during my time at firms such as PWC or JD Edwards, where I had leaders who generously trained me, and I discovered everything that I could give to organizations through my knowledge and experience.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
Laura Godoy: I started my studies and working life at the age of 17. I prepared myself and made a lot of effort, defying the predetermined obstacles of society and, at the age of 25, I was appointed Consulting Manager of a multinational company. Since then, I have set for myself ambitious goals and, although some sections of the path were very hard, I have held leadership positions in large organizations. Today, at 53, I continue to grow, learn, and develop my skills to become a partner at the firm where I work.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that is the case?
Laura Godoy: There is a huge lack of female professionals in our world. Although university careers have evolved, we are still at a very low percentage within the technological world. There are beliefs, paradigms, that make us think that technology, computing, and cybersecurity, are areas for men. But we are the ones who must do something to change it.
I personally believe that the fight for equal conditions for women in the world of technology is difficult, but not impossible. Perhaps I will not see the change. But I have decided to actively participate in national and international initiatives for women in cybersecurity with the purpose of reaching schools and universities to show girls and adolescents that we can develop as professionals in the industry under equal conditions. But fundamentally, we must give opportunities to professionals to be part of our organization.
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?
Laura Godoy: I have personally suffered what we call the “glass ceiling”; that invisible barrier, sometimes oblivious to professional women. Supposed limitations that we have for being a woman conflicts with motherhood or the role that society has imposed on us within the family. Over the years I have seen many women abandon their careers, their jobs, and their dreams because of those beliefs.
We are the ones who have the tools to show the world that we can balance the personal and professional worlds without conflict, without failing in our responsibilities. We must not allow ourselves to be pressured by what is imposed by society. We should not give up our professional dreams just because we want to be mothers. We must defend our life choices.
What do you see as the future for women in technology roles/payments industry?
Laura Godoy: The road is long. We have gained ground. We are more, but we are still a long way from achieving equality. We must do the work from home, from schools and colleges so that when women must decide on their professional future, technology is an option.
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?
Laura Godoy: Once upon a time, a boss - a wonderful being who trained me and taught me with great generosity everything he knew about the industry - told me, “Who wants, can” and here I am.
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?
Laura Godoy: She must fight for her dreams. Never give up despite the concepts imposed by society. Never let anyone tell her that she cannot do something because she is a woman. But the most important thing I learned in life is that it is in us to feel capable. If we hide or victimize ourselves for being women, we will not make it. Capacities are not a matter of gender.