Gender Diversity: Going Beyond Recruitment, Promotion and Training

Women in Cybersecurity

Addressing workplace gender inequality continues to be a pressing issue for all organizations, but especially those in the cybersecurity space. Many cybersecurity organizations are taking bold actions to address gender gaps in wages, recruitment and promotions by implementing boardroom gender quotas and targeted recruitment processes. But for Difenda, gender diversity goes far beyond just the number of female employees and salary equilibrium.  

Cybersecurity is widely known to be a male-dominated industry, but we are changing that. For Difenda, addressing gender diversity and inclusion for women means yes, recruiting and training more women in the industry, but also providing opportunities to build connections, networks and mentorship relationships. We actively address both hard and soft skills while trying to create a more inclusive environment.  

In this post, we will walk you through where Difenda stands now regarding gender diversity industry standards, what opportunities we currently offer our female employees to build soft skills and what it’s really like to be a woman in cybersecurity at Difenda.  

Difenda is an Industry Leader in Terms of The Percentage of Women Employed in the Cybersecurity Space

Despite many challenges over the past few years, women’s representation has improved across all levels of the corporate pipeline and in almost every industry. But there are still persistent gaps: according to a report by (ISC)² women account for only 24% of the overall workforce in the cybersecurity industry. At Difenda we are actively working to close this gap.  

While we know there is still work to be done, we are proud to say that women make up 34% of Difenda’s workforce. But that’s not all:  

               – 20% of Difenda’s C3 Team, is women,  

               – 60% of the Revenue Operations Leadership Team is women, and  

               – 20% of the Service Operations Leadership Team is women.  

Why does this matter? Unilateral decision-making from the male perspective is not just a representation problem; it’s a security problem. Diverse perspectives are critical for cybersecurity companies that face an ever-changing variety of threats. Our workforce needs to look like and think like the diversity of threat actors. The wider variety of people and genders we have protecting networks, the more likely we will be successful at blocking them. 

At Difenda, we pride ourselves on hiring the most qualified candidates for every job. But it’s always a great feeling when that candidate is a woman because there are so many barriers to entry for women in the cybersecurity space.  

But bringing true gender diversity and inclusion doesn’t end once you bring women through the door. 

Difenda creates and promotes equitable opportunities

Difenda is constantly working to create an inclusive culture around the women in our space. We are investing in women by investing in their soft and hard skills. We do this by having programs and practices in place which support both our men and women. Such as: 

  • Flexible work policy to help achieve work-life balance, 
  • Investing in growth and development opportunities such as Microsoft vouchers and PluralSight licenses,  
  • Female-led technology conferences are encouraged and sometimes covered by Difenda.  

Not only do these opportunities allow for greater training and professional development, but they also provide our team with opportunities to create their own network, make connections, and become a mentor – clearing a path for more women to enter cybersecurity.  

So, what is it really like to be a woman working at Difenda?  

Hear directly from our employees:  

“As a woman of colour, before joining Difenda I had always been the minority. Difenda is one of the workplaces where I feel like I am truly accepted for my abilities and not just a token. It feels great to work at Difenda which is a confluence of people from different walks of life. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive”. I am proud to be apart of a company that focuses on sharing our similarities and celebrating our differences.” – Priya Mocherla, Analyst, SecOps in Cyber Command Centre (C3)  

“When you are the only woman or one of the very few women in an organization it is obvious and can make you feel out of place. Having more women around enables us to identify with colleagues and creates a sense of belonging that takes work culture one step further. At Difenda, there is always a seat at the table regardless of your gender, age or experience.” – Gagan Bhathal, HR Administrator in Admin 

“Working at Difenda has been an incredible and empowering experience. Being a part of a team that is made up of so many women is incredible. Difenda empowers their women every day and makes each one of us feel important in our roles. This has allowed me to explore different career paths and find something I love to do.” – Dayana Leon-Araujo, Marketing Coordinator 

“Since my first day at Difenda, I’ve experienced an organization that fosters a sense of belonging and empowerment in our diverse workplace. From cultures and gender to multi-generation in the workplace. Though the diversity gap is still tilted in our industry, I’m proud to say Difenda exceeds the industry standard with the most inspiring female leaders across the organization, who support, encourage, and promote all to lead and break glass ceilings.” Cindy Lovely, Senior Channel Partner Manager 

“If Difenda didn’t continue to hire diversely, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The differences in gender, culture, age, and experience only allow us to grow as an organization because of the many perspectives and views. This is how we’re able to elevate so quickly. I’m extremely proud to be a part of Difenda and that we are passing the industry standard for gender diversity.” Valerie Frankland, Senior Regional Sales Representative  

“Cybersecurity is such a fascinating field to get into across so many domains. You can come into it from many different angles. Like in my case, with a background in marketing and communications, Difenda provided me with the right resources and a network of supportive mentors to excel. I love being a part of a company that provides a platform for the women in the industry that the younger generation and people outside of our industry can say to themselves, ‘if she can do that, I can also do that!’.  We hire talented people from all different industries. If you have a curiosity and passion to continue learning, you will love working in cybersecurity and being a part of the Difenda family!” Miranda McCurdy, Marketing Director 

We know our work is not done, but we are proud of the progress and community we have built this far and we hope to encourage women to take that first step into cybersecurity.  

Find opportunities at Difenda here. 

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Ken Perkins

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Deepak Khandekar

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Carlos Espinoza

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Sheldon Shaw

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Megan Miller

Megan Miller’s energy and passion for learning flow into all aspects of her work. As the Growth Manager, North America, she brings a background in sciences which she has transitioned to the tech sector in her role at Difenda.

With a Bachelors of Science in Geology, Megan is a lifelong learner who is voracious about learning anything she can get her hands on about cybersecurity. Her positive energy has built a sales strategy with a focus on expanding in the United States while nurturing the Canadian presence. She is responsible for recruiting and training the sales team. Together with the company’s leadership, she creates the sales process and the company’s product strategy in order to better serve the customer base. This ensures that our customers have a highly trained and highly motivated team to help them every step of the way, Megan has completed Microsoft SC-900 training and working towards mastering Microsoft.

Whether at work or play, Megan is fully committed. She took her love of hockey all the way to the semi-professional level as a competitive hockey player. Megan loves all things sports including water skiing, scuba diving, cycling, and snowboarding. She also enjoys time with family and reading about alternative energy, innovation, and cybersecurity.

Natasha Phanor

As the Microsoft Partner Manager at Difenda, Natasha Phanor is responsible for driving growth within our Microsoft Partnership. With six years in the industry, she offers a fresh, energetic approach, and the ability to focus on our customer’s needs throughout the entire process. Natasha has the innate ability to foresee customer needs and solve problems before they arise, which creates a smooth road for each customer she encounters.

As the recipient of the Outstanding Services Partner of the Year Award in 2018, it is clear that Natasha responds quickly to customer needs, creates a platform for understanding a customer’s business requirements, and walks them through the process to ensure their complete satisfaction.

In her spare time, Natasha is as energetic and passionate as she is on the job. A self-proclaimed foodie-extraordinaire, she enjoys dinner parties, traveling, downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and reading. Natasha has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, from Ryerson University.

Ian Miersch

Ian Miersch has energy to spare, and uses his eclectic background to make a positive mark on the cybersecurity industry. As Vice President of Finance & Human Resources, Ian Miersch is responsible for overseeing scalable business growth as Difenda expands throughout North America. But it is the way he does it that sets him apart. By leveraging his engineering background and critical thinking skills, he has been able to develop unique strategies that balance the company’s current business needs with its long-term growth plans. And the results of his unique background and drive mean that the company is growing in a fiscally responsible manner, all with the customer’s needs at the forefront.

With a Bachelor’s of Mechanical Engineering, coupled with an MBA in Finance, both from McMaster University, Ian’s ability to analyze data and make informed decisions is augmented by his ability to understand all facets of the business. He has a holistic understanding of the craft, from operations to project delivery and management, to his niche in financial planning. Ian’s ten years of experience in the industry mean that he has seen it all, and knows how to create a dynamic team and manage the resources needed for success.

Outside of work, he uses his energy to help others through the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program, earning the Group Recreation Volunteer of the Year Status.

Ian also enjoys exploring and hiking with his three young children, exercising (so he can keep up with them), and reading professional development books. He is an avid but generally heartbroken fan of the Toronto sports teams, including the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and Raptors.

Derek Nugent

Derek Nugent, Vice President, Revenue lives by the motto “Be early, be better.” Derek leads our Sales and Marketing team and is responsible for customer success, as well as pre-sales and sales enablement. His high energy level and creativity have built high performing teams, whether at the Herjavec Group, CDW, or in his current leadership role at Difenda.

After earning a Bachelor Administration and Management degree from the Academy of Learning, Derek started in the information technology industry in 2004 and transitioned to the cybersecurity industry in 2014. With so much experience in a wide-variety of roles, he is poised to take the team at Difenda to the next level.

He excels at leading revenue strategies, new market entry, partnership engagement, and customer acquisition and retention. His work ethic and interest in rising to the top motivate his sales teams, who respond well to his passion and zeal. Under his tutelage, they are able to achieve attractive lead generation, YOY growth, and sizable deals. Derek works tirelessly to build a better team, and his constituents follow his road to success, which ultimately leads to a rewarding experience for the customer.

Even when volunteering, Derek is all in. He was a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters from 2005-2015, earning Group Recreation Volunteer of the Year Status.

And when he isn’t busy leading the team to the acme of sales, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, running, working out, watching thrillers, action and dramatic television shows

Manoj Arora

Manoj Arora, Difenda’s Founder and CEO has always been ahead of the curve in Technology and Cyber Security. After securing his engineering degree in Computer Science, he wrote his first mobile banking application when he was just 23 years old. This accomplishment certainly set him apart from the crowd and prepared him for a lifetime of innovation and success in his field. At just 25 years old, he was selected as the youngest Cyber Security Officer for one of the largest banks in Asia.

As a globetrotting young cyber security professional, Manoj was instrumental in designing cyber security infrastructure and controls for some of the largest institutions around the world. Depth of his expertise and passion to serve customers at the highest level of competence and integrity lead to Difenda. Founded in 2008, Difenda is a rapidly growing cybersecurity firm operating in North America and Asia.

As the CEO at Difenda, Manoj drives the strategic vision to protect our customers and enable our team members to deliver our services in line with core values- competence, integrity, and innovation. Currently one of Microsoft’s leading North American partners, Difenda reflects Manoj’ single-minded focus on our customers. Difenda is fully vested in success of its customers and takes pride in considering our success as a byproduct of our customers. Manoj has always been committed to building a great team and forging strong partnerships to serve our customers with standards that top our industry.

When he is not busy bringing cybersecurity to the world, Manoj enjoys playing golf and squash, and continues to travel the world.

Lisa Templeton

Lisa Templeton is the perfect combination of human empathy and technological prowess. In her role as People Services Manager, she takes care of our team members to support them in their daily work, as well as on their personal life paths. Happy employees make for happy customers, and Lisa excels in giving our employees the tools they need for success in order to become the best possible versions of themselves. Along with employee formation, she shines in the service delivery support domain to continuously improve the process. Her 24 years of experience in IT Operations and Service Management help her create quality and efficiency at Difenda.

Having attended the Information Systems Management certificate program at Ryerson University, and with various other certifications to her credit, Lisa is perceptive and innovative when it comes to information technology, but also sensitive to the needs of her human constituents. Responsible for achieving the first privately owned company HDI Support Center certification in Canada, she has also designed and implemented Service Management excellence programs and 24×7 IT Operations departments for multiple IT organizations, and has created corporate rewards and recognition programs to keep her employees engaged and motivated.

On the personal side, Lisa passionately supports the cause of breast cancer research, having lost her mother to the disease. She reads voraciously in her spare time, and enjoys the art of home renovation. The summer months also bring time on her boat and exploring new hiking trails.

Miranda McCurdy

Miranda McCurdy uses her myriad super powers in all aspects of her job and personal life. As the Marketing Director at Difenda, Miranda McCurdy brings over a decade of experience to the table, which includes expertise in all facets of operations, brand management, and content marketing, as well as a multitude of successful strategies for the ever-expanding digital world. She is an expert at simplifying the message the company is trying to send, filling in gaps in the information, and strengthening the content in order to create compelling narratives that strengthen the brand and developing programs that bring teams together.

With several Addy Awards issued by the American Advertising Federation Cleveland to her credit, and her never say die attitude, Miranda understands both the broader picture and the minute details that are needed to successfully market a product. With her abilities to harness both the talent needed to spread the message, as well as to create the message itself, she is an integral cog in the company’s ability to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

When she is not building a brand, she shares her ability to fill the gaps in her community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Charleston Food Bank. In her spare time, Miranda spends time with her family, enjoys fitness and health, paddle boarding, reading, and arts and crafts.

Juliana Zaremba

Connections are the name of the game for Juliana Zaremba. As Strategic Partnerships Director, she is responsible for Difenda’s channel partnerships and the development and ownership of the channel partner program. She is also responsible for the global Microsoft Partnership, including the creation of strategic plans with MSFT contacts that will facilitate the continued growth of the business and establish certification and training protocols in all security technologies. Her role is multifaceted, as she acquires partners, manages relationships with them, and develops strategies that will provide cutting edge security solutions to our customer base. Another integral aspect of her job is to facilitate growth.

With a Bachelor’s in Math from the University of Waterloo and 14 years of experience from her previous roles at Herjavec Group and CDW, her cutting edge focus and ability to develop long-lasting relationships and strategies provides world class security solutions to our customer base.

Juliana thrives on connections outside of work as well. She is a philanthropist and contributor with Women4Change based in Hamilton. This group of local women is passionate about supporting local causes, and she focuses her efforts around Women in STEM. She is also a member of Club Italia in Niagara Falls and supports their youth events throughout the year.

When not managing the Microsoft Global partnership, Juliana enjoys reading, often reading several books at once. Juliana enjoys exploring the Niagara Escarpment with her family, as well as sharing meals and experiences with her extended family. Juliana’s competitive nature has her always trying new things, like Whoop band challenges and Peloton.

Andrew Hodges

Biography Coming Soon

Jeffry Jacob

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