How did you get into cybersecurity? Starting in 1993 I was watching the X-Files and thought it was...
Kimberley St. Pierre's journey: From business administrator to Director of Strategic Accounts - Enterprise
How did you get into cybersecurity?
I have over 23 years of technology industry experience and over 28 years business development experience. Although, like many cyber professionals in my demographic, I did not have a career in cybersecurity on my radar at an early age as cyber simply didn’t exist in the way it does today. After high school I knew I wanted to be in “business”, but I did not find post secondary education stimulating at that time. After 3 months of college, I found my way into full-time work doing “business things”, which included answering phones, filing (Wow, am I dating myself?!), data entry, invoicing, and office organization. My early career took me from the international transportation and logistics industry into the IT sector, working for Canada’s two telco giants, Bell and TELUS. Both companies provided a phenomenal training ground into technical business roles that lead me to cybersecurity at TELUS. I found that I had a passion for customer service which morphed into corporate and enterprise sales roles as I honed my business acumen over the years. I was learning to deliver business value to customers through technology and professional services, that linked back to my clients' strategic objectives and goals. My passion for technology was growing and I was inspired by how fast paced the field is.
While in an enterprise sales role at TELUS I had the opportunity to engage with the cybersecurity specialty sales team and our customers on several occasions. These engagements piqued my interest in cybersecurity as it was complex, mysterious, exciting, and felt like we were really helping our customers in a time of need and confusion. Around the same time, His Excellency the Honourable Ralph Goodale - Canada’s former Federal Public Safety Minister, was speaking at an event at TELUS Garden in Vancouver. He discussed how the WEF (World Economic Forum) ranked cybersecurity as one of the top 5 global risks, and he touched on the massive global talent shortage that was not improving anytime soon. These attributes were an inspiration for me to embark on my next career focus – cybersecurity! However, I wanted to stay in sales and business development as this allowed me to continue building customer/partner relationships which I love to this day. I finally felt like I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, as crazy as that sounds. Plus, I would have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact by helping to keep people / businesses safe from cyber risk, and in a field that was screaming for new talent.
Tell us about your journey, challenges, people, programs or companies who helped you.
The initial challenges for me personally were the steep learning curve and the task of building out an entirely new network in the cybersecurity field. I was very lucky to have a couple of mentors and champions that were willing to help me, guide me, and direct me to fabulous educational resources. Conn Nichol who was the Western Canadian Director of the Cybersecurity Team with TELUS, and Justin Malczewski who was the Regional Manager, Security Solutions with Cisco at the time, both deserve a huge shout out for their support in my cybersecurity journey. As I did not embark on a cybersecurity degree or formal certification, it is important to share that YouTube, Google, and podcasts are not to be underestimated when on self guided learning tours. This field requires continuous studying and learning by diving into new concepts, technology, processes, and challenges that are relevant to cybersecurity. Keeping up with new attack vectors and threat actors will continue to be an ongoing challenge as cybersecurity is changing so quickly. However, that is also the exciting part! Another obvious challenge I noticed is the lack of diversity in cybersecurity, specifically the low number of women working in our field. Globally we still have a massive talent shortage, which I believe we could make a significant dent in, if we only closed the gender gap. I continue to rely heavily on my local, national, and international ISACA network to become an expert in my craft and be a champion for diversity in cybersecurity.
Tell us what you believe others need to do to succeed in cybersecurity.
For anyone entering the cybersecurity field, be curious, authentic, open to change, willing to learn, and maintain your desire to help with a passion to geek out. The cybersecurity space is complex, so try not to get overwhelmed at the beginning by thinking about what your career path might look like. Just get into the field, learn, try new things, build your network, and don’t be afraid to pivot as your interests and passions change within the industry as opportunities are limitless. Build your professional brand and maintain a high level of integrity. I believe that there are so many different areas to focus on in cybersecurity that this field has space for everyone. Whether you are looking to focus on information security, network security, governance, risk, compliance, threat intelligence, digital forensics, etc., many different skill sets and backgrounds will be value to our amazing field.
Tell us something interesting about yourself and how that makes you who you are.
I grew up on a farm in Alberta, riding horses and dirt bikes. In later years that sense of adventure developed a competitive edge and I raced motorcycles (600 cc sport bikes) at an amateur level for 3 years in the Pacific Northwest. My adrenaline junkie and equestrian side are still alive and well as I am now an amateur competitive show jumper.
I am right at home working and playing in male dominated environments, and I believe my competitive edge drives me to succeed in my professional life.
I am very passionate about giving back and am currently involved in municipal, provincial, national and international roles. My primary focus is on gender diversity in cybersecurity to help close the global skills gap.
- Member of the VIPSS (Vancouver International Privacy and Security Summit) Advisory Board with ISACA Vancouver
- Member of the PSAC (Provincial Security Advisory Council) with the Government of BC
- Member of the Canadian Cybersecurity Network Advisory Board
- Member of the SheLeadsTech Global Advisory Group with ISACA’s One in Tech Foundation