Ivelina Koleva

Director, Deloitte UK

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?

It’s never boring! I spend the majority of my time working with clients in the energy, resources and industrials sectors. I focus mostly on leading complex cyber transformation programs. I also build and lead programs on enterprise-wide preparation for response and recovery from near extinction cyber events.

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

That you need a degree in computer science or math, but the field is so broad. When you have transferable skills, there are many opportunities for a career.

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

I’d never really planned out my career journey, so one could say that most of it has taken me by surprise! But jokes aside, when I joined Deloitte I never expected to be given the opportunity to go on the director development journey so early on. It said a lot about the leadership of the team I’d joined at the time and their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

Being genuinely interested in people and building great relationships.

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

The most challenging part can also be the most rewarding part — juggling too many things at once!

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

The cyber transformation program I’ve been leading for a multinational aluminum and renewable energy company. They’ve come a long way since they were hit by a catastrophic cyberattack. It’s not been an easy journey, but it’s nice to know myself and the team have truly made an impact on the organization.

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

I enjoy listening to “Smashing Security” and reading Jane Frankland’s book “INSecurity!”!

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

The public has become more aware of cybersecurity as an issue for organizations. Many high-profile incidents that have been in the press, as well as the debates and regulations around privacy, have helped with that. Some governments have also made efforts to raise awareness and educate the public.

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

Do not be intimidated by it. Learn, solve problems and have fun.

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

I am in awe of the new generation of cyber professionals who are eager to learn and experience different things and are just not afraid to get stuck in the challenge.