Karolina Oseckyte is a cybersecurity consultant, based in Chicago, where here role includes cybersecurity strategy and governance development, as well as risk and change management. Prior to this, she was based in London, where she worked in a number of different roles and her remit included developing cyber strategy, cyber fraud and blockchain offerings for clients, as well as leading on a number of corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives. Karolina has been a board member for multiple women in cybersecurity networks and co-chair of an LGBT network serving the energy sector.
“…We’re going to have to find a way to talk about diversity that isn’t just about categories, but it’s about the kind of organisations we want to create for people to be able to bring their identities to work and to be, if you will, whole people…”
Opening my eyes to information technology
I started working at KPMG’s cyber practice in the UK almost seven years ago as an apprentice. At 18 I knew that I was not ready for university, and that I wanted to commit myself to a career from a young age; I also had a strong desire to ‘make an impact’.
Through the apprenticeship programme allocation, I was placed in the Technology department and quickly started working on the implementation of one of the largest Security Transformation Programmes in the world. I became fascinated by the capabilities we provided to our clients, and how they were used to deliver enhancements to their IT infrastructure in support of, and aligned to, their overall strategy and needs.
This opened my eyes to just how crucial information technology is to modern business operations. It inspired me to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Whilst at KPMG, I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Computing and Information Technology.
My move to the US was so fast – everything was very surreal. I wanted to live in the US for a very long time, so when I was ready, I reached out to my colleagues in the US and initiated a formal process, which led me to having multiple interviews. After that I got a ‘yes’ to come on board.
The cyber security challenge
Technology-based social networking will continually re-define the way we work and live our lives. Therefore our profession will need to respond to these challenges and embrace the opportunities it presents. I can see also that considerations such as comfort, commitment, control, convenience, cost and culture will dominate decision-making. Also, organisational IT and security may disappear as cyber services are increasingly embedded within business processes.
Finally, threats will not diminish or remain static. Organised cyber criminals are operating just like legitimate entrepreneurs. They demonstrate a high degree of innovation in techniques, tools and targets – demanding unprecedented agility on the part of the cyber defender. Hence, I can foresee changes in the way law enforcement and cyber defenders will start operating. I would also say that our adversaries are better at communicating with our users than we are, and so we must improve.
Gender balance in tech
In my team the total percentage of women is 33%, which I think is quite extraordinary if you compare it with global survey results, where women make up just 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce. I am a board member for Women of Cyber network, we are working hard to create initiatives to support diversity and inclusion. We have created this great community for our women, and I’m privileged to be part of it and help shape it.
Using diversity to increase cultural competence
The most effective organisations, in my view, are organisations that don’t simply use their diversity in order to have legitimacy with clients, but rather they use their diversity to increase the cultural competence of their workforce. The way I look at it is, if our customer base is diverse, we need diversity in our workforce so that we can learn from our own diversity to make ourselves more effective at meeting the needs of our clients.
I think that identity will increasingly be part of the conversation. What it means to be a diverse and inclusive place is not simply that you have people who look different, but that you have created an environment where people feel like, at the end of the day, they are who they are, uniquely, and in a way that integrates them, and that they’re not trapped in a box.
We’re going to have to find a way to talk about diversity that isn’t just about categories, but it’s about the kind of organisations we want to create for people to be able to bring their identities to work and to be, if you will, whole people. And that’s really what I think is the future of the work around diversity.
Advice for girls and women interested in pursuing tech careers
My advice is to look beyond the more traditional careers, expand your horizons and realise that there are many ‘versions’ of success. Also, do not be afraid to challenge yourself and those around you. I always encourage young people to look into working in cyber – it’s a fantastic field to be a part of. I try to always convey that the right attitude and passion can enable you to be successful in almost any field. Also, follow your passion, give 110%, and be true to yourself.
I am still settling in the US. Enjoying solving problems for my clients and exploring the country by travelling and visiting other cities. Also, I love working for KPMG, so naturally I want to progress here and increase my seniority!
All views contained in this article are Karolina’s own.