features, Most Inspiring Women in Cyber

Most Inspiring Women in Cyber 2021: Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy & Evangelist at KnowBe4

The IT Security Guru’s Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards aims to shed a light on the remarkable women in our industry. The following is a feature on just one of the many phenomenal women put forward for the 2021 awards. Presented in a Q&A format, the nominee’s answers are written in their own words with minor edits made by the editor for readability.

This year, the awards are sponsored by KPMG and Beazley.

What does your job role entail?

My main role is to drive security awareness across the African continent. This entails amongst others, fostering public-private sector collaboration opportunities to improve Africa’s cyber security culture, conducting research in this field, assisting national initiatives, speaking at conferences and participating in various working groups.

How did you get into the cybersecurity industry?

By accident really! I had a part-time job at Siemens when I was a student and they offered me 3 different topics to write my thesis on. Information security was one of those topics and I chose it because I thought it sounded cool.

What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech/cyber industry and how did you overcome it?

Imposter syndrome was a real thing in my twenties, and not being taken seriously as a young woman. I have overcome this by working harder than any of my colleagues and passionately following my goals. Becoming an entrepreneur allowed me to focus on the things I was naturally good at and gain more confidence.

What are your top three greatest accomplishments you have achieved during your career so far?

  1. Starting a company while also giving birth to my two children.
  2. Growing this company to international acclaim (Gartner’s magic quadrant 3 years in a row) with majority female leadership.
  3. Getting acquired by KnowBe4 in 2018.

What are you doing to support other women, and/or to increase diversity, in the tech/cyber industry?

  1. Mentoring young women.
  2. Create research reports and articles about the importance of attracting more young girls into our field, particularly in Africa. (https://www.intelligentciso.com/2021/02/08/cyber-heroines-changing-the-future-for-african-girls/)
  3. Participating in groups such as WiCyS, Africa’s CyberHeroines, Cisco’s Diversity conversation, CyberDiplomat, WiCyS mentorship program; Mentor & Mentee Women in Cybersecurity; African Women in Security Network (AFWSN).
  4. I’m a member of the ISC2 DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Task Force.

What is one piece of advice you would give to girls/women looking to enter the cybersecurity industry?

Find out what you are most interested in and what brings you joy and follow that path with determination, self study, take certifications and show your attitude of wanting to learn during your interviews. Companies don’t hire for experience, but for attitude so this internal fire has to shine through. Network and meet other women in this field that are willing to introduce you or mentor you.


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