Women in Cybersecurity: The Emerging Game Changer

Perpetually on the cutting-edge, Difenda is committed to the “road not taken” in a plethora of ways.  And for a cybersecurity company in today’s world, that means the promotion of gender diversity in a largely male-dominated culture, especially within the leadership team. 

“This is definitely a male dominated field but we are closing the gap. Our competitive advantage is that our different backgrounds offer a unique business strategy. At Difenda we create and promote equal opportunities,” said Gagan Bhathal, a human resources administrator who is an integral part of striking a healthy balance of diversity at the company. 

Championing women in this male-dominated sector is a true game changer. Difenda prioritizes women in a trifecta of ways. First, they offer a flexible work policy that champions a healthy work/life balance for all employees, which traditionally benefits women the most because they tend to have so many outside commitments. Secondly, women are looked to in order to fill active leadership roles, and the company is firmly committed to that. Finally, women are actively recruited, especially for operational roles, in order to create a more diverse company. 

“When I see somebody who looks like me, I connect with them through our shared experiences,” said Bhathal. Thus, the culture of people who belong to the company is more rich, and the differences they bring to the table make them who they are. This, in turn offers the customers a wider variety of experiences and insights that will ultimately benefit their businesses.

But promoting women inside the cybersecurity company and hiring more women to start with do not just add more depth and richness to the shared experience of colleagues and clients. Women leaders in C-suite and board membership roles create positive organizational outcomes that go far beyond the human interpersonal ramifications. Research shows that hiring women in leadership roles leads to greater profits, more innovation, and increased productivity. Investors are drawn to diverse leadership teams and increasingly prefer companies that feature women in executive leadership and on their boards.

Microsoft understands what customers desire, and Difenda is committed to diversify the industry alongside Microsoft’s ideals. Microsoft’s research reveals that men hold 82.4% of cybersecurity jobs in the US and 80% of those jobs are held by people who are white. But according to data compiled by Microsoft, 57% of community college students in the U.S. are women and 40% of students identify as Black African American, or Hispanic. The disparity is glaring, and both Difenda and Microsoft have pledged to change the game. 

Microsoft, for instance, has allocated $20 billion over five years to deliver more advanced security tools and invest $150 million to help government agencies update their security systems and expand training partnerships in cybersecurity. By walking the talk, this ensures that everyone’s voice is heard.

Creating a better gender balance is imperative because females can see things from a different perspective than males, so bringing more women on board means that both sides can be represented. A balance of both genders
Difenda is making these same strides towards diversity by hiring women in cybersecurity. Currently, 75% of our management leadership team is female, 38% of our current leadership team is female, and 64% of our Sales and Marketing team is female. Creating a better gender balance is imperative because females can see things from a different perspective than males, so bringing more women on board means that both sides can be represented. A balance of both genders also makes communication easier with the clients, especially when the employees are acting as the voice of the company.

Beverley Shanahan is a woman who is happy she has jumped into the cybersecurity world. A student of marketing who was interested in the tech space and desired a job that was remote, she is a champion of women in technology. Although she agrees that men are more socialized early on to STEM, she knows that teaching girls coding classes and getting high school girls more interested in STEM is a good ground level place to start .

For Bhathal, it’s all about taking chances and working with a leadership team at Difenda that supports growth. “Age, gender, culture: there is a space for everyone. We want to build a culture that provides incentives that are balanced and give women and men the tools they need to balance family and professional life.”

Difenda is making a commitment to having more women and diversity at the table, and to creating a model for the industry and inspiring women to join the cybersecurity world. This means making sure that young girls are socialized to the IT and STEM spaces from the ground level. And once women are in the cybersecurity world, they need a team of support to get more involved, to attend technology conferences, and to feel like they belong. 

From increased revenue to more balanced communication for customers, having more women in the traditionally male-dominated world, especially on the leadership team, is a win-win proposition that is integral to the road ahead for Difenda. 

“We want to encourage women to step into the field and take a chance on themselves,” said Shanahan.

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Ken Perkins

Biography coming soon.

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.

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.

Jeffry Jacob

Biography Coming Soon