Joanna Burkey

Chief Information Security Officer, HP

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 start each day with the goal of focusing on strategy development, team building, and stakeholder relationship maintenance. On a good day, I can touch all three but if I only get to one, I’ll take that! In cyber, we have to expect the unexpected every day, which proves true for me on a regular basis.

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

We don’t all fit a mold — not every woman in cyber has the same background, interests, or strengths. Like any field, we come into cyber from an amazing diversity of lived experiences, and that is something to celebrate!

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

It continually surprises me that I have been able to take on such a broad variety of roles and ultimately have them coalesce into a position where I pull from each disparate role that I’ve been in.

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

I don’t mind admitting that I’m not as technically deep as I used to be, nor would I be serving my current role and enterprise if I were. I am in my position to establish and oversee strategy, and I rely on an incredibly strong and talented team to take up the technical responsibilities.

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

Every day is a new opportunity to accept that there are no hard and fast answers in risk management. Especially in a field like cybersecurity that is considered by many people to only be a technical problem, we are working very hard to evolve the mindsets around cyber to acknowledge that it is a strategic element of doing any kind of business.

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

I am most proud of any project where I have been able to work on something that will outlive me. Currently, one of the leading contenders in this space is the ability we have had at HP to stand up cyber-specific scholarships at historically black colleges and universities.

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

Not just for women, but I recommend to anyone L. David Marquet’s TED talks on how leaders serve others.

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

I hope and believe that cybersecurity is not misconstrued as intimidating as it traditionally has been. If we can continue to make the topic accessible, we are headed in the right direction.

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

Don’t overthink it! Take the roles that seem interesting. You don’t need to fit a mold. That’s three pieces of advice, but if you combine all three, that’s a ticket to mental freedom to pursue any flavor of career in this field.

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

Is there enough time to list them all? Here’s a few: Myrna Soto, Marene Allison, Shamla Naidoo, and Sara Andrews. I am unabashedly a fangirl!