Julie Quandt used to be the only woman in the room at her corporate meetings. In this month’s Women in Payments blog series, find out why that’s changing and why the good old days of not having to wait in line for the ladies’ room at industry conferences may now be over.
How long have you been at Discover and what is your role?
Julie Quandt: I’ve been in my current role for five years, which is in business cybersecurity. I’ve really been in cybersecurity about 15 years and before that, for my entire career, I’ve been in risk management.
How did you get started in cybersecurity? What led you to that career choice?
Julie Quandt: My career in cybersecurity has really been one of evolution versus revolution, meaning that it’s just been a gradual development over the years. I had an interest in math and in science, encryption, etc. and then wanted to see how that can be applied in a business context. It’s a balance of understanding the business need and the cybersecurity risks. I’ve just been fortunate to have steppingstones in my career that led to where I’m at today.
What do you see in the future for women in the cybersecurity industry?
Julie Quandt: I believe the future of women in cybersecurity is really just the future of cybersecurity. It’s no longer about men and women. There is a shortage, a vacuum, of good talent; a need for talent in the industry. It used to be that I would go to industry conferences and there wasn’t even a line for the ladies’ room. But now you go and there is. Or I would go to meetings in the early part of my career and I’d be the only women in the room and that was typical. Nowadays, that’s not the case. I’m seeing us well represented. Equal numbers? No. However, because of the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, I believe smart, intelligent, interested women are well positioned to fill those positions, alongside their male counterparts, to really bring this industry forward.
What advice would you give to young women who are interested in a career in cybersecurity?
Julie Quandt: For women looking to get into cybersecurity, don’t be afraid of it. Don’t let anyone scare you through math or science. We’re just as good at that as any male counterpart. But also, throughout my career, I was fortunate to have great mentors. Women often feel that they need to have a woman mentor. You really don’t. Look for someone who’s smart, capable, and possesses skills that you admire. In fact, the advantage to having a male mentor is you’re learning better how to work with your male counterparts, who are abundant in our industry, but, also, they’re learning how to work with you. They’re learning how to better understand and appreciate women in security. So, truly, don’t be afraid of the technical. Go after it. But, also, seek out a mentor. Just find someone who is a good mentor, man or woman, and take that forward.
What aspects of your job do you enjoy?
Julie Quandt: It’s always a new challenge. When it comes to security, it’s a little bit of cat-and-mouse. The criminals are staying ahead, so you need to learn something new. And it’s complicated. I’m a mathematician so there’s always something new for me to learn. But, also, I get to meet great people. I get to balance all that technical stuff. I don’t sit in the back room somewhere. I’m out there in front of people, talking to people, learning about their way of doing things. I really enjoy that as well. I enjoy being able to balance the technical side with the people side.
What value does the Board of Advisors contribute for PCI SSC?
Julie Quandt: The Board of Advisors brings to PCI insights that we don’t have from the marketplace: their struggles, their successes, and really gives us a viewpoint that we can’t get simply from the perspective of PCI. We really want to know how the standard is helping the industry and what needs to be done to enhance it. How can we make it more valuable to protect data, to help our partner organizations and to make it usable so that people aren’t going around it, but actually securing data? There is a great value to coming to PCI community meetings, both to network with other professionals, but also to ask the brands about their compliance programs. It’s also great to get to know people in the industry. There are people I see at these meetings regularly that I just enjoy connecting with and getting a chance to sit down and have lunch with. It’s a great opportunity to really get to know others within the industry and in your marketplace.