Posted by Adrienne Hall, general manager, Trustworthy Computing

10+ years ago Joyce Brocaglia, CEO of high-end recruiting firm Alta & Associates was having dinner with Spencer F. Katt, a prolific columnist for the former PC Week, now eWeek. Throughout their lively conversation the topic of finding people for key roles in these IT specialties came up as a difficult task. The prospect of finding a number of candidates to round out executive teams was a challenge too.  In particular, Joyce was adamant that talented women existed for a spectrum of positions, while she also acknowledged that tracking down the talent and following the network wasn’t as easy as just going to security events. 

In part stimulated by similar conversations, and in part because she saw an opportunity to fill an unmet need, a few years later Joyce started up The Executive Women's Forum (EWF) as a way to tap into the talent pool while delivering benefit to the participants themselves in a number of ways. It has been fun to watch this community grow in size and capability, most notably during the recent ten-year celebration conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The EWF is now a prominent community of over 750 of the nation’s most influential female executives in the fields of Information Security, Privacy, and Risk Management. This group provides a home base for women to grow their professional skills and build networks, log certification credits and gather business information on lessons learned, trends and tips from top practitioners. 

Corporate and Industry sponsors abound, viewing the event as a professional development investment, recruiting pool and as a component of retention plans.  An added benefit exists for earlier-in-career professionals who comment that they enjoy meeting women in roles they hope to fill someday. 

I recently presented at the 10th annual EWF National Conference and was pleased to receive, on behalf of Microsoft, an award for ten years of support as a Diamond Sponsor of the EWF. It was nifty to share this honor with colleagues who joined me this year: Diane McDade, senior director policy management, Ellen Cram Kowalczyk, principal security lead, anti-fraud and abuse,  Katie Moussouris, senior security strategist, Leah Lease, security group program manager, Michele Turner, director, policy governance, Paula Mitchell, senior policy and safety strategist, and Tiffany Teichrow, online safety communications manager. For a flavor of the EWF, here’s a video that shares some of the thoughts and perspectives from several attendees at this year’s event.

While the conversations and learning renews at the annual conference, connections continue throughout the year during regional meetings, meet-and-greet events at major conferences such as RSA U.S., Black Hat and RSA Europe.  Peer mentoring programs, the cybersecurity school challenge program and the leadership journey program keep participants engaged year-round.  Additionally scholarship programs are in place with Carnegie Mellon’s INI which provide financial support for a small number of students to pursue careers in Security, Privacy and Risk Management.