Our Chief Growth Officer, Shamane Tan, was featured in Issue 9 of the Women in Security Magazine, a publication that explores the journeys of women in the security sector globally.
Shamane’s passion for cybersecurity, along with the hurdles she has had to overcome in a male-dominated sector, have made her an invaluable asset to Sekuro’s team and a driver of change within the industry. Shamane’s efforts in building relationships across the industries have resulted in new accounts enlisting Sekuro’s help with business resilience, resulting in more than a million dollars of revenue growth. In addition to her work at Sekuro, Shamane is also the founder of Cyber Risk Meetup, an international community of over 4,000 members across Australia, Singapore and Japan. She has also authored two books: Cyber Risk Leaders and Cyber Mayday and the Day After.
The start of Shamane’s cybersecurity journey
With a bachelor’s degree course in computer engineering, Shamane’s description of herself as “passionate about communicating well, building human relationships, bringing the community together and raising awareness on meaningful topics” might appear to be a bit of a mismatch. However, Shamane found that her degree proved to be a good springboard for her career, as it helped in providing the technical skills that assisted her in speaking the language to a technical audience. “Down the track, my career started to take shape as it was a self-discovery journey of learning what I’m good at, building on my strengths and developing new skills.” From there, she found her way to her dream job at Sekuro.
Shamane currently leads the outreach strategy to help C-suite executives achieve value preservation and business growth objectives with cyber risk management. “I bring the perspectives of both the technical and business worlds, and help executives bridge their cyber resilience gaps,” she says. One aspect of Shamane’s role is managing the human element, which is often known as the “weakest link in security”. However, she perceives the perceived weakness differently: “People can be our strongest first line of defence. So my role is to raise awareness within the community and change the culture and mindsets around cybersecurity.”
Having the right support is essential to empower women in security
Apart from the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) had greatly influenced Shamane’s foray into cybersecurity, the people she has met throughout her life have also inspired and encouraged her to pursue her aspirations. “I’ve been blessed to have great colleagues, leaders, mentors, friends and a wonderful family who have supported me throughout. I have had incredible role models in my life, who paved the way forward and showed me how to navigate the cyber security industry to get to where I am today. These are the people who challenge me and act as my sounding board where I can bounce ideas and gain new perspectives.”
She continues, “Take the Sekuro team as another example. They have always been vocally supportive and publicly affirming of my initiatives, ideas and the value I have brought to the company. They celebrated my successes, which really encouraged me to go further knowing I have the backing and support of my company.”
Moreover, Shamane believes deeply in the power of building strong and authentic relationships, even within the corporate landscape. Her advice to those interested in venturing into the cybersecurity industry is: “Invest time in developing your skills for networking and invest time in networking! Surround yourself with mentors, and a community of healthy and positive-minded people who will inspire you for greatness.”
Similar to Shamane, women should empower themselves with the right mindset.
Struggles faced along her journey
Back in 2020, Shamane has even spoken on TEDx Talks about her journey in overcoming Impostor Syndrome
Whenever limiting beliefs start to arise within her, Shamane reminds herself that she is the only one who can limit her own potential. She does, however, acknowledge that women face more challenges due to their gender.
“Despite the progress we have made over the decades, I still notice the unconscious bias that exists if I step into a room full of ‘white hairs’ and I’m the only woman there. I’ve been in a room where the men think they know more than me, and their opinion is more important. They could listen, but they are not really hearing. One time, I was invited to a meeting and I brought along a junior male colleague I was mentoring. The other men in the room assumed he was my boss and channelled all questions to him even after we exchanged business cards.”
In cases like these, Shamane advises, where she pick her own battles, “It is important to know your identity, and what you have within you. I know my voice, and I speak (at the right time) with confidence, but I don’t fight to be heard and speak just for the sake of speaking.”
Fortunately, cybersecurity is one of the more progressive industries as it celebrates creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, and thus recognises a need for diversity in genders, background, experiences and culture.
She adds, “We are up against cyber criminals and attackers who don’t discriminate amongst themselves or who they target. We, on the defenders’ side, have to embrace contributors from diverse backgrounds to build a strong ecosystem.”
Leaders play an important role in cyber defence
Shamane emphasises that effective cyber defence starts at the leadership level. “Executive leaders must first and foremost take a proactive approach with their cyber risk strategy. As part of growth and security maturity, it makes sense for businesses to start looking at an offensive strategy that will give them the foresight to plan their next tactical move, as compared to just being at the backfoot playing defence.
“If businesses start preparing for the inevitable cyber disruptions they will be looking at running more war room exercises and maturing their business continuity processes as part of crisis management drills. Companies need to be talking to peers proactively, especially across industry sectors because information and experience exchange is invaluable in contributing to the growth of our ecosystem.”
Here at Sekuro, we believe in creating opportunities for women who are interested in joining the tech industry. In the last batch of Sekuro’s graduate program Hackcelerator, we saw an encouraging increase in the number of female participants which amounted to about one fourth of the total number of participants. A third of the Hackcelerator participants were hired, out of which a quarter were female.
This graduate program aims to provide a platform for all which underscore Sekuro’s belief and effort in providing career opportunities to women who are looking to join the cybersecurity industry. Fostering an inclusive work culture is still our utmost priority here at Sekuro, and that starts with us — from the way we hone our recruitment processes to the way we treat each and every single one of our teammates.
Shamane Tan is one of the most established women in the fields of technology and cybersecurity. As the Chief Growth Officer at Privasec and Sekuro, she is responsible for leading the security outreach strategy with the C-Suite and executives. Recognised by IFSEC as one of the global top 20 cybersecurity influencers, the ‘Cyber Risk Leaders’ author was also recently listed in the 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians and Top 30 Women in Security ASEAN Region 2021. A TEDx speaker and podcaster, Shamane is also the Founder of Cyber Risk Meetup, an international community and platform for cyber risk executives to exchange learnings.