Kishwar Chishty

Partner, Deloitte Switzerland

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?

No day is typical in cyber; agility is key. I always start the day with client and internal meetings. However, on many occasions, I will quickly adapt my day to address client needs. Part of the day always involves working with my pursuit teams, and part of the day involves working with my project teams, which is a great place to learn from the bright talent we have at Deloitte. Spending time with clients is key, so I always schedule client catch ups, whether over coffee, lunch or a walk.

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

Cyber is all about encouraging diversity of thought and problem solving. It would be great to see more women in cyber. We need more female role models, and it starts earlier on with getting more girls and young women in STEM classes to ensure there is greater representation where males have traditionally dominated.

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

Looking back on my career journey, I’ve been surprised by how quickly one can adapt to new challenges and learn new skills. The pivots in my career—from audit to consulting and large ERP programs to now cyber—have been a wonderful journey. I had my moments of trepidation. However, I surprised myself with how quickly I adapted to working and living in new countries, cultures, and working with diverse teams. I also gained resilience as I learned that around every corner, with every challenge there is an opportunity to grow.

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

Remaining calm and level headed.

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

he most challenging aspect is making time to balance my life and work. It requires making time for returning clients, getting to know new clients, making time for teams, and, most importantly, my family.

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

My first cyber project was with a global life sciences company in the commercial area. I led a large multinational team with tight deadlines. We were reviewing cybersecurity for more than 500 commercial applications with the goal of coming up with an overall enterprise security strategy and roadmap. It was an enriching experience, and I learned so much about cybersecurity from my talented project team.

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

This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race by Nicole Perlroth

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

The public’s awareness of data privacy has increased exponentially. I recall a time when we only thought of hackers in hoodies and the impact they have on corporations. Today, everyone has an app they rely on in their daily lives from medical devices, online shopping, mobile banking, health monitoring, or managing our cryptocurrencies. All are susceptible to attacks. The future will be focused on cybersecurity, and there will be a push for boards and governments to make this a priority for every organization.

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

Find a mentor, learn the jargon through a technology and information security training course, and prioritize people skills.

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

Within Deloitte, it’s our global cyber leader, Emily Mossburg, as well as all of our female cyber partners. Within the industry, it’s the global CISO of one of the top 10 global life science companies.

Kishwar Chishty started her Deloitte journey over 7 years ago in Risk Advisory focussing on the Life Sciences industry. Her background is in Applied Sciences (Biochemistry), one of her reasons for staying involved in the Life Sciences industry for more than 25 years. She has worked directly in the Swiss Life science industry and with 2 other Big 4 firms in audit and management consulting, and led multiple Global Life Science business transformation programs. Her career has led her to the exciting field of Risk and Cyber. She truly enjoys working closely with the local and global Cyber Risk teams, leading or involved in some of the most challenging and interesting cyber risk engagements.