Ellen Dankworth

Director, Deloitte Germany

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?

I lead a team of cloud security professionals. Leadership and communication are critical to my daily work. My day is often filled with meetings about finding solutions for our clients’ challenges.

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

That cyber is only about technology. There’s also the stereotype that only a young, male programmer can solve problems. The more diverse the teams are the better and more holistic the solutions will be!

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

The fact that I ended up in cyber. I believed the misconception that cyber was only for programmers.

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

My superpower is both analytics and communication skills. Both allow me to understand customers’ challenges and needs quickly and target communication with stakeholders and team members effectively.

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

The most challenging yet exciting part of my job is the necessary agility. Analyzing technology trends, dealing with changing requirements and circumstances and meeting tough project timelines is an everyday challenge. Also, as we are a people’s business, the “fight for talent” is demanding. Getting the right people on board is not only crucial to deliver quality work, but also influences the atmosphere and team spirit.

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

Early on in my career, I was leading one of the work streams for a team of almost 20 people from all around the globe with the aim of developing a data leakage prevention (DLP) concept for a global financial institution. We formed a team of experts with diverse skill sets from various disciplines and delivered results. This was an impressive example of what diverse teams with a great spirit can achieve.

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

“Who’s Got the Monkey?” by William Oncken.

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 changed to a more holistic view. Simultaneously, market expectations for cybersecurity have changed. Regulators in many industries are demanding specific protection measures. Customers are also considering security in purchase decisions. Organizations that don’t consider cybersecurity as a core business function won’t be present in the market for the long term.

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

Trust your strengths. You don’t need to fit into a stereotypical personality type or possess a specific skill.

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

I admire all women in cyber, as this is often synonymous with assertiveness, performance and passion.