René Waslo

Principal, Deloitte

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 by interacting with the international global community of Energy, Resources & Industrial cyber partners and focusing on cyber industry solutions, eminence, and complex client issues. I then move on to my U.S. based cyber clients and work with our incredible team of cyber professionals to deliver quality projects. We identify challenges, design and implement solutions, and build trust with our clients while working side-by-side for success.

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

A common misconception is that there is only one career path in cyber that leads to success or that you have to be technically proficient to be successful. There are so many opportunities in cyber for women to be successful. You can choose what, where, and how you want to focus your energy, whether that be cyber technology, strategizing, cyber confluence with industry, eminence, full-time onsite or remote, or hybrid. The list is endless.

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

The most surprising aspect has been blending the skills I acquired in cyber with my knowledge of energy, resources, and industrials. Bringing together various technical cyber capabilities to solve business issues really brings cyber to life.

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

My superpower is intellectual empathy. It is important to realize that the people around us, both in business and in our personal lives, are not cyber experts. We need to always be able to find ways to explain solutions in a language other than “bits and bytes.” We need to find ways to tell stories that bring cyber to life.

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

The speed of cyber opportunities continues to increase, so it is crucial that we match the right resources with the right client opportunity. I am so thankful for the strength of the global Deloitte cyber talent organization. The depth and breadth of our global cyber talent allows us to find the right resources for our clients who are almost anywhere in the world. Having a cyber talent pool that focuses on industry is incredibly beneficial as we develop industry-based solutions for our clients. Deloitte’s model focuses both on cyber capability and industry, which provides a strategic advantage that drives business success.

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

I had a cyber team that was part of a larger team of 100-150 people, and we were working in our client’s second largest geography implementing a system. Through our Security Department, we learned that political protests were being planned throughout the country for the next day, and all the borders were closed indefinitely. We brought our team together on a call, instructed them to pack up and get out of the country on the first available mode of transportation. We managed to get everyone out safely before the borders were indeed closed and get them back to the US.

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

With the media all around us, I’m drawn to using an example from everyday life. In every action-packed thriller with a computer component, there are women on the recon teams chasing the bad guys. It’s great to see how integrated they are in finding actionable responses. Seeing women portrayed as active members of these powerful teams makes women in tech and cyber more real and paints a more accurate picture of everyday career opportunities.

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

Cyber was once only viewed as a technical solution that needed to be implemented by “the techies.” Cyber is now part of the design and implementation strategy for every business solution. We are also seeing that people are becoming more aware of the need for cybersecurity. They may not understand what it fully means or what goes into it, but the recognition is there. As cyber professionals, we need to continue to tell stories in non-technical terms that resonate with them.

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

Do your research and be curious. Have a good understanding of the spectrum of cyber offerings. However, you do need to be known for something specific. Make sure what you choose to specialize in excites you.

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

I don’t need to look any further than the Deloitte women in cyber to be in awe of what has been achieved. I am also very fortunate to have a couple of women who are Chief Information Security Officers as my clients. They are all true examples of managing career success, and they are respected in their selected cyber fields.

René Waslo is a principal with more than 38 years experience in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Energy, Resources & Industrials (ER&I) industry. She serves numerous ER&I clients in the US as the Lead Risk and Financial Advisory Partner or as the lead cyber partner, and is advisor to numerous global ER&I clients.