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 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 launch the first in this series by profiling Stacy Hughes, Senior Vice President, IT Governance, Risk and Compliance at Global Payments.
As a little girl, Stacy Hughes never dreamed that one day she would be leading cybersecurity for a major global company. In this month’s blog series, Hughes describes her path to success and offers advice on how other women can achieve success in this industry, too.
How long have you been at Global Payments and what is your role?
Stacy Hughes: I’ve been with Global Payments for 16 years, and in our IT organization, and specifically in security compliance, for the past 10 years.
How did you get started in cybersecurity? What led you to that career choice?
Stacy Hughes: I’ve been involved in the payments industry for more than 20 years. I started in more of the accounting, business process and auditing fields, when an opportunity arose in the IT compliance security space, I jumped on it. At first it was risky because it was a new field. However, I believe that I’ve been successful in the field because of my business knowledge of the payments industry as well as the great mentors I’ve found in several team members and colleagues. When I first started in the industry, groups such as Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions (WNET) were just forming with the goal of supporting women throughout their careers in payments. I would have appreciated and benefited from groups like this when I was first starting in the IT industry to gain guidance and insight from experienced peers. WNET has grown in numbers and programs and has been a wonderful environment to meet colleagues and other women in the payments industry. Global Payments is a big supporter of WNET and hosts several WNET functions in Atlanta.
What do you see in the future for women in the cybersecurity industry?
Stacy Hughes: There are many opportunities for women in cybersecurity moving forward. To be candid, we still have a shortage of women in cybersecurity even though the gender gap is closer than it used to be. Research has shown that more diverse teams are more productive and with more and more women getting into IT, we continue to bring a different perspective and way of doing things. The hope is with different and unique perspectives, we can continue to stop bad actors before they act.
What advice would you give to young women who are interested in a career in cybersecurity?
Stacy Hughes: For women who are interested in a career in cybersecurity, I would recommend a few things. First, conduct some research on companies you’re interested in joining. Also consider joining some networking groups, such as WNET to meet different leaders and gain perspectives on what area of cybersecurity you may be interested in getting involved in. Utilize those groups to network--ask somebody to go have a cup of coffee with you. Create as many of these opportunities as you can. Networking and learning who the players are in this space can help open doors and opportunities for you. Women in leadership roles are typically willing to sit down and talk with you, not just about what’s happening in the payments and security world, but also on a personal level. They can connect you to others who can help with your job search and can shed perspectives on their individual journeys. I would also recommend securing an internship to dip your toe in the water, in order to get a foothold on the security landscape. A lot of companies offer internships or even part-time job opportunities. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and don’t be afraid to take risks and try something new. Your background may not be 100% in IT and cybersecurity, but that diversity can play to your advantage.
What aspects of your job do you enjoy?
Stacy Hughes: I love my job for many reasons. The first one is the team members that I get to work with every day. They are all passionate and dedicated about what they do. When we are all working together as a team, we achieve greatness. Second, I love all the worldwide opportunities that we have. Global Payments operates in multiple countries around the world and interacting with our colleagues in Europe, Asia and Latin America brings excitement, education and understanding. This enables us to collaborate on best practices, payment innovation and security around the world. Global Payments has provided me with opportunities to work in various departments, learning different businesses that we play in and securing environments, which are things that I did not expect I’d have an opportunity to do every day. I love my job, my team that I directly manage, my colleagues that I work with around the world and the executive leadership team, who have always supported me 100%.
What value do you get by serving on the Board of Advisors for PCI SSC?
Stacy Hughes: I am privileged to work on a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds where we solve complex problems in the payments security world. It is amazing – it gives me goosebumps – to sit and talk about a certain security area with acquirers, merchants and vendors who come together and work collaboratively on cybersecurity threats. Because of this, we all come together as a board of advisors and have been able to issue standards, programs and releases, and really positively influence the payment security space.