Andrea is a highly experienced professional who leads Cyber Cloud services and Cyber services for Financial Services customers at Deloitte in Belgium. With over 16 years of experience in the field, she has established herself as a motivated and driven leader with a can-do attitude. Andrea has a proven track record of leading complex transformational programs in the cyber field and has worked closely with CXOs to define effective cyber strategies.
LEADERS IN CYBERSECURITY
Partner, Deloitte Belgium
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
In cybersecurity, no day is dull, so I can’t say I have a specific routine. I take every day as it comes and try as much as possible to make the most out of it. One thing I do almost every morning is look at my daily calendar in detail and at a high level for the rest of the week. This way, I can prepare a mental map of what I need to do on that day. I can also see if there are other things I need to plan for to achieve the objectives I have set for the week.
What aspects of your career journey have taken you by surprise?
When I joined Deloitte, I was inspired to become a Partner at Deloitte one day and thought this would be an uninterrupted path. What surprised me was that at some point in my career, I felt that I needed to challenge the status quo and try a different role still linked to cybersecurity but with a focus on technology sales. With this change, I realized that I enjoyed my role at Deloitte and that I get a lot of energy from being closer to customers and translating challenges into practical cyber solutions and approaches. This perspective enabled me to take on the role of a Partner at Deloitte with a clear vision and strategy of what I want to achieve.
Tell us about your first job (can be anything!) and one lesson you might have learned from it.
Cybersecurity is such a diverse domain that it feels like I had many “first jobs” in my career. One very vivid memory is linked to a time when I was a project manager for a legacy email directory migration project. I learned from this experience that even if you try to account for all possible scenarios, you still don’t know what you don’t know. Therefore, be prepared for the unknown and to be resilient in situations where things don’t turn out as planned.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self about getting started in cyber?
When you have confidence, you can achieve wonderful things! While some roles require deep technical expertise, cybersecurity is a complex domain with many dependencies that require analytical thinking, adaptability, and the ability to see the bigger picture and think differently. Technical skills are only one of the requirements for cybersecurity careers.
Tell us about the cyber project you're most proud of working on in your career.
One experience I am particularly proud of was leading a cyber transformation program for a global financial services customer. Together with the client and the project teams, we shaped a five-year transformation program from the assessment phase to road mapping and implementation. This multi-year journey has transformed my career by broadening and deepening my cybersecurity experience. I learned how to manage stakeholders at different levels and manage multiple project teams. More importantly, I could clearly see how our work had a positive impact on the client’s cyber resilience level. Our purpose as cybersecurity experts is always to strive to move the needle toward a more cyber-resilient world.
How has public perception of cybersecurity changed over the course of your career, and how do you predict in the future?
I remember a couple of years ago, when I mentioned to people that I work in cybersecurity, the response was, “Ah, so you configure firewalls.” I also remember when a client asked me if the things they show in movies about cyber criminals happen in real life. Since then, I think the public perception has evolved due to the many publicized data breaches, ransomware attacks and increased privacy awareness. I don’t know how the future will look. However, I believe cybersecurity will be a topic that’s part of everyone’s vocabulary. Not only will organizations take steps towards being secure by design, but society will understand that cybersecurity is an individual responsibility and that we must take all necessary precautions to avoid becoming victims of cyber attacks.
Tell us about a role model or mentor who has helped shape your career.
I have been lucky to have multiple role models and mentors in my career. They all came in different shapes and forms throughout time. “When the student is ready the master will appear.” When I heard this quote a couple of years ago, I realized that I had followed this principle since the beginning of my career. I believe that in every interaction we have, there is something and someone we can learn from. What’s important is that we are open to learning and seeing how we can take others’ experiences and apply them to ourselves.
A meeting gets canceled and you have a surprise 30 minute window of free time — how do you spend it?
A typical consultancy answer is that it depends! In most cases, I would probably use the time to finish other tasks, read and respond to emails, think about what is next on my agenda and prepare for it. However, in some cases, when I feel overwhelmed and see that I may not be as productive as I would like to be, I prefer to take a break. Whether it’s a coffee chat with someone, a walk, listening to a meditation or anything that clears my mind at that moment.
What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?
The best way to disconnect is to spend time with my family. When I spend time with them, I can leave most of my work “worries” behind and enjoy our time together. Besides family time, doing some physical activity or meditating helps me relax and clear my mind.
When you think about your personal legacy as a leader, what do you hope people will remember?
If she can do it, I can do it too! I believe that we are at a time when leadership styles are changing to be more inclusive and focused on creating followership by inspiring others and leading by example. I hope to give people confidence and understanding that they can reach their goals by being true to who they are, showing vulnerability, believing in their capabilities and staying focused on their path.