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#InterviewSeries | Rae McClelland

The interview series is a series of intimate discussions with women in the technical & digital spaces. They are entrepreneurs, developers, students, cyber-security experts, managers and social media queens, you name it we love the all. The aim of the series is to increase the visibility of women in tech, to prove that no woman's journey is linear & to celebrate their successes. Whatever your passion or skill OR gender, there's something out there for you!

Rae McClellandis the University Programme Manager for Cyber Security Challenge UK. This involves planning and managing the programme of University events and outreach activities that CSCUK run throughout the year across the UK. CSCUK is funded by the Cabinet Office and sponsorship with the aim of increasing the amount of people entering the profession, to help improve cyber security skills and bridge the gap to protect UK business and national infrastructure.

Tell us a little bit about your journey into a role.

My role is not technical, despite working for the ‘Cyber Security Challenge’ the team at the Challenge come from a wide range of backgrounds, and are all focused on facilitating others to reach their full potential and helping participants find fulfilling careers.

My personal journey has come full circle. I studied Events Management at the University of Gloucestershire, and upon graduating I fell into working for a Defence company within the Cyber and Information Assurance team, I immediately became fascinated with Cyber Security – especially in relation to people and risk. I gradually learnt and studied more and became a Consultant in B2B Cyber in 2015, my portfolio of clients were mostly SME businesses. I was also responsible for delivering the company CSR Cyber outreach programme to three local schools. This is how I came into contact with the Challenge. Now a large part of my role is Events Management based.

How do you personally use technology in your day to day?

Technology has become so engrained into my personal life, it is nice to get away from it sometimes. I am fully connected - my phone, my audio, my heating, my car. I am an advocate of secure technology implementation.

How do you use technology in your job role?

I am a mere ‘user’.

What have been the best learning resources for you?

It sounds cliché, and maybe its because I am not a ‘techie’, but for me the best learning resources are colleagues and competitors. Observation and intuition go a long way when analysing human factors of risk.

As a woman, do you think you have faced any challenges that a man would not face in your position?

Generally no, but having worked to promote gender diversity in the industry for the past four years I have heard some horror stories. Not so much a challenge, but at my previous role (I was the only female in the department) I found out I was being paid around 12% less than my male colleagues – even those I was managing. Needless to say, I got that fixed pretty quickly and nobody died.

What HAS been your biggest challenge so far?

Believing in myself. ‘Legitimacy’ and the Imposter Syndrome amongst women in this industry are well documented.

With regards to technology, what do you think will be our biggest barrier to success in the future?

The gender and diversity piece is a big one, if businesses don’t get serious about their shortages and start challenging the way they think about potential candidates we could end up with a closed ‘society’ industry with cookie cutter solutions which are not fit for purpose.

Who makes up your support squad?

  1. People who don’t work in the industry – its good to have some perspective and realise how lucky we are

  2. Advocates in the industry – in my job I am lucky to work with some amazing people who volunteer their time to help promote the industry and support those taking their first steps towards getting a great career in Cyber Security at our Camps and events. They are really inspiring, successful people and I think on the whole they are representative of the industry – we all want to help each other and promote a clear and safe adoption of technology.

What’s your favorite piece of advice to offer entrepreneurial/techy women?

Have a personality of your own – its not what you know its who.

Help others.

Read: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Thank you Rae, we've learnt so much from you!♥

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