Wendi Whitmore

Senior Vice President, Unit 42, Palo Alto Networks

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 get up early to work out before calls kick off for the day. Unit 42 and Palo Alto Networks have a global client base, so we have team members around the world to support our clients. A good portion of my day is spent on video calls, hearing from clients about their needs, meeting with my team to strategize how best to keep our clients safe, and getting briefed on the latest cyber threats from the intel team.

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

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

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

I’m told that I have a real gift for getting the right people in the right roles where they can leverage their skills and fuel their passions. Building a high-functioning, cohesive team is one of the single most important functions for leaders. My superpower is building teams that work well together and where everyone feels they are valued and able to contribute their best work.

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

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

Introducing the Unit 42 brand at Palo Alto Networks!

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

The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age by David Sanger and The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll.

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

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

There are many different paths within cyber. I am where I am today because I was willing to take calculated risks, jump into the unknown, and remain nimble in the face of challenges. My advice to my younger self, or any woman interested in cyber, is to embrace the uncertainty and make the most of what’s in front of you.

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

I have a great deal of admiration for so many women across our industry. A few that are top of mind for me are Jen Easterly, Mary O’Brien, Zeynep Inanoglu Ozdemir.
Wendi Whitmore serves as senior vice president for Unit 42 at Palo Alto Networks. She is a globally recognized cybersecurity leader, with two decades of experience building incident response and threat intelligence teams that have helped clients solve some of the world’s largest and most complex breaches. Wendi leads the new and expanded Unit 42, which includes former Crypsis security consultants and members of the original Palo Alto Networks threat researcher group (the original Unit 42). The combined team helps organizations tackle the most complex cyberthreats — from ransomware to state-sponsored Espionage.