Rosanna Kurrer : Cybersecurity goes beyond IT

Cybersecurity is traditionally a male dominated field and the usual career path leading to cybersecurity starts with IT studies. However, only a few women choose this area despite the attractiveness of the sector.

In this context, the program “Cyberwayfinder” (CWF) helps women access a career in cybersecurity, regardless of their professional or academic backgrounds.

This gender inequality is not new, but Rosanna Kurrer wanted to fix it as soon as possible.

On the 15th of May 2019, Rosanna Kurrer came to the Cybersecurity Competence Center Luxembourg to launch local edition of the “Cyberwayfinder” program. We met her to learn more about this initiative.

Our first question was about the program itself: Why do women need a specific program to become cybersecurity professionals? “This is not only because this area is male dominated, but the consequence of the evolution of cybersecurity that has expanded beyond IT. So, there is a need for diversity in terms of background and mindset”.

So, it’s not only a gender issue? “Well, in fact, it is a diversity issue, and our entry point is gender. However, we also address the age diversity: there are usually women of all ages in our program and from different educational backgrounds, different sectors, and they also come from different cultural backgrounds. The goal is therefore broader than to bring more gender equality to cybersecurity, it is really to bring more diversity”.

And you seem to be a good example of background diversity, isn’t? “Indeed, I started in architecture and then I did a master in building physics: heat transfer, acoustics. This master in Japan was very ‘engineering oriented’ so I did a lot of my research by building simulations. I created a program for that purpose because at that time, there was no software available. By the way, the field of architecture itself is also very diverse because you need a scientific mindset and at the same time, a design and aesthetic skillset… and you also have to understand the humans you are building the project for. I love this multidisciplinary approach. And somehow, the IT architecture is like the ‘physical’ architecture because the way we design a system or an application will have an impact on the way the users behave.”

The human factor cannot be forgotten. Especially when we talk about career transitions? “Of course, because people have a lot of skills that are transferable. Sometimes, they are not aware of it… So, the first step is to make them aware and then, make them fit in a new team and try to bring value to that team, even if they don’t have a technical background. This is really the point we work on because usually, when people move to another job, they think they can forget what they did before. That is wrong, because there are skills like communications, negotiation, report writing… that are very useful in cybersecurity, no matter how technical you are. Most of the participants of our program have no technical background at all, but they have a lot of transferable skills and often interesting experiences in various areas that can be helpful for their new career”.

Rosanna Kurrer is also certified by MIT in educational mobile computing. A cross-border discipline that requires as well technical knowledge, design skills and psychology.

Technology is bringing many changes to the education. One of the main changes is the fact that the teacher is no longer the only source of the knowledge. It is also the philosophy of the program: we are motivating people to think for themselves in different ways and to build on their own knowledge.

The program “Cyberwayfinder” is not only a diversity initiative. It’s a project that empowers the people who will empower the cybersecurity of tomorrow.

Website of cyberwayfinder: