Angela Williams

SVP, Chief Information Security Officer, UL Solutions

Cyberattacks are the number one business risk in most of the world, according to a 2022 study from the World Economic Forum. Not all cyber threats are alike, and diverse problems require diverse solutions. Yet, the cyber industry is predominantly led by men. How can we solve this significant threat to the business world with only half of the population? Fortunately, the women who make up that percentage are some of the fiercest in the greater technology industry. In this series, The Female Quotient and Deloitte are putting a spotlight on 25 women at the forefront of the cyber revolution, amplifying their career advice and sharing their insights on how the industry will evolve in the future. Their stories are proof that behind every functioning society is a woman in cyber.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

A typical day includes lots of multitasking — from responding to emails, staying up to date on cyber-related topics and current events, attending internal and external business meetings, ensuring the cybersecurity initiatives and activities stay aligned with business strategy, and working closely with key stakeholders and cybersecurity staff members on various projects.

What's a common misconception about women in cyber you'd like to debunk?

A common misconception about women in cyber is that we are not technical or that we have a lack of understanding when discussing technical solutions or theories.

What aspects of your career journey have taken you by surprise?

I went to college and earned two degrees in computer information systems. My career began with working in various roles within the IT organization — as a desktop support specialist, network administrator, network engineer, and project manager. I assumed my career would always be within information technology; however, the twist came years ago when my CIO asked me to be the leader of an uncharted area called “information security.” To my surprise, I really enjoyed designing a foundational information security program while partnering with key leaders across the organization. This extraordinary pivot in my career wasn’t something I expected or planned but it has turned out to be the best twist in my career!

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

My superpower is the ability to take complex cyber topics and translate them into relatable information using analogies and storytelling.

What's the most challenging component of your job today?

The most challenging component of my job is educating business leaders about our cybersecurity services and capabilities and why it must be an integral component of their business strategy.

Tell us about the cyber project you're most proud of working on in your career.

One of the cybersecurity projects that I’m most proud of in my career happened when I was working at a healthcare organization. The parent company, along with two of its four subsidiaries had a common goal to obtain HITRUST certifications. I was tasked to lead the multiple security teams across each organization to achieve HITRUST certifications that ultimately improved customer confidence in our cybersecurity practices and could be used as a market differentiator for future customers. We successfully achieved HITRUST certification within 18 months and successfully improved the understanding, ownership, reporting, and measurement of all security controls.

What's one must read, watch or listen for women wanting to work in cyber?

There are so many great publications and podcasts in the market that are ideal references for women to read or listen to that I couldn’t pick just one. I would encourage women wanting to work in cyber to join a cybersecurity organization that is focused on supporting women in this industry. There is nothing better than learning from each other in real time.

How has public perception of cybersecurity changed over the course of your career, and how do you predict in the future?

The public perception of cybersecurity has dramatically changed over the course of my career. It was once an ignored or overlooked practice, and as far as the discipline has evolved, there are still so few women working in this industry or rising to leadership roles. I admire all of the women who work in places where it is still common for there to be only one woman at the table, and I am proud to be a part of changing that image.

What's one piece of advice you'd give your younger self about getting started in cyber?

One piece of advice I’d give my younger self about getting started in cyber is to not second guess or doubt what I can achieve nor compare myself to others. Sometimes, we are our worst critic and don’t reflect on our strengths and capabilities.

Who are some women working in cyber today that you admire?

There are so few women working in cyber today; therefore, I admire each and every one of them for being brave enough to work in an industry where it is still common for there to be only one woman at the proverbial table.

The views and opinions expressed in this work are those of the author’s and do not represent the official position of UL Solutions.