Yumi Nishiyama

Senior Director of Global System Integrators, Exabeam

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 hard to have a “typical” day in cybersecurity. The best you can do is prepare and have a plan for when things don’t go according to plan. I try to carve out time throughout my morning coffee to strategize for the day and update my “To Do” list. The entire day happens in a blur of meetings, calls and shifting priorities. At the end of the day, I hope that at least one or two of my priorities are checked off.

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

That you need to be a hacker in a hoodie to be in this field. Now more than ever, there are so many different paths into cybersecurity and in so many different sectors to work in from tech to policy.

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

All of it. No matter how much I planned, opportunity, timing, a mix of risk-taking and some luck took me down a winding path to get to this point now. I suspect I’m still on a winding path to who knows where ahead.

What's your superpower as a woman in cyber?

I enjoy pulling people together to solve a problem as a team. To solve problems, I pull from experience working from different angles of the cybersecurity world.

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

Staying informed on what’s going on in cybersecurity. We’re inundated with so much data. It takes time and effort to keep up with the pace of the threats and vulnerabilities.

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

At Exabeam, I helped spearhead a broad women’s initiative aimed at supporting and empowering women. We have one third of our women involved across committees. I hope this helps increase representation of women, both for our organization and across the community.

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

Information Warfare and Security by Dorothy Denning.

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

I started in security 21 years ago, and back then, I was told the industry was oversaturated and career prospects could be dim. There are currently three million unfilled jobs in cybersecurity worldwide, and 600,000 alone are in the US.

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

That we’re more resilient than we think. There are plenty of times when we feel knocked down. But brush it off, look for the lesson and the silver lining and never give up your sense of humor.

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

I admire the women who have worked hard so that we can now say females make up 17 percent of all CISOs.

Yumi Nishiyama is an information security and cyber risk leader who helps organizations advance their data management practices, better protect digital assets, and create solution offerings around leading edge technologies. With over 20 years of industry, management consulting, and technology channel experience focused on global C-level technical engagements, she has experience building solutions across diverse regulatory landscapes as well as in varying stages of the business cycle. At Exabeam, Yumi is the Senior Director of Global System Integrators and built a multi-million dollar partner channel. She is also a leader in the company’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative.