We at the PCI Security Standards Council believe strongly that there is a need for more women in cybersecurity and in 2020 we are pleased to be launching the second blog post in the Women in Payments: Closing the Gender Gap in Payment Security series. This series will profile a different woman in our industry each month and highlight their remarkable career as well as their guidance and advice to other women on how to develop a career path in cybersecurity. Today we profile Amy Zirkle, Vice President, Industry Affairs at Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) .
With the advent of mobile payments, Amy Zirkle, a self-proclaimed payments geek, knows that the future of commerce is transforming right before our eyes. In this month’s blog series, find out why Zirkle believes that security is not only a key differentiator, but also very sexy.
Q: How long have you been at ETA and what is your role?
I’ve had the pleasure to work at the ETA for the past five and a half years. It has been an exciting ride, really reflecting all the changes going on in the payments industry.
Q: How did you get started in cybersecurity? What led you to that career choice?
The changes in the payments industry reflect the growing significance security and cybersecurity is really presenting for the industry. The ability to really take advantage of technology, to seize innovation, to launch new products and services, brings tremendous energy and excitement to this space. But, the piece around security is so essential; it’s part of that mix. It’s almost a product differentiator and will assume more prominence over the next year, three years, five years and then some. So, deepening the work that I do in the security and cybersecurity space, particularly with respect to the payments industry, is vitally important.
Q: What do you see in the future for women in the cybersecurity industry?
There are such rich opportunities ahead for women working in the security space, particularly in the payment’s arena. There are challenges, though, to be sure. There are few of us, but we are a strong network. We have connections to each other and the ability to mentor those new in the space, to encourage those who maybe are seeking to dip a toe in. You know, security and cyber have a reputation for being, not only incredibly male-dominated, but maybe not being the most exciting or stimulating area, let’s say. But security is sexy and we’re making security sexy because it’s so important. It’s about creating growth and vibrancy for the market because it’s transforming the future of commerce and touching our lives daily. We’re all consumers. We all engage in the payments ecosystem and security is a key driver and differentiator. So, certainly building on relationships, networking and encouraging women to engage more in the payments space, and in the security space, is a great area for future growth.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who are interested in a career in cybersecurity?
It’s important to do your homework. There are so many materials out there to read and to get that education on your own. Read, research, do a little bit of digging in terms of just acquainting yourself with the issues at hand. Get yourself out there. Go to conferences, attend meetings, network. Reach out to those, perhaps, working in the security space in your current organization. And, if you’re not currently in an organization where security and cybersecurity issues figure prominently, look for professional networking groups, and really make an aggressive effort to get yourself out there. The opportunities will be significant once you start to get into this community. The potential to build an exciting, rich, vibrant career in the cyber space, especially for young professionals right now, is so significant. It really presents so many opportunities. So, do your research, do your reading, do your homework. Get yourself out there. Network. And really define your path for success.
Q: What aspects of your job do you enjoy?
The thing I love about the payments industry is the fact that it permeates our daily lives. It really does. It transforms everybody. You use electronic payments to pay for medical bills, you pay for a wedding, you pay for a funeral. It touches our daily lives in such a significant way. Watching what technology has done for this industry in the last five years, and considering the potential of what it will do, it’s astounding. I am a payments geek, so that’s my disclosure here, but the impact it has on our daily lives is so transformational and I love the opportunity to think about what the future holds. If you think about over the course of time, with the launch of mobile payments, the introduction of utilizing your phone as a payment’s vehicle, that’s just in the last five years. So, imagine. Imagine what’s coming in the next three years. It’s astounding to think about. It’s exciting to consider the way it will change our daily lives. I have the pleasure and the privilege to work in this industry daily. And, for that, I can’t think of anything better.
Q: What value do you get out of serving on the Board of Advisors for PCI SSC?
I am honored and privileged to serve on the Board of PCI Advisors and to have the opportunity to work with the Council, its leadership, and the entirety of this ecosystem as represented by those on the Board of Advisors. It’s important to address the critical issues of security, looking at it not just through the lens of a specific market in North America, but thinking about it on the global stage. We are really working collectively and collaboratively to ensure the future growth of the payments space and advancing security every step of the way. It is a real highlight for me to serve on the Board of Advisors and represent my constituency in each of our 500-member companies. Bringing those 500 companies to the table, when I sit at the Board of Advisors meetings, is a true privilege and honor.