Kavita Pemberton has had an eventful year – from leaving Thomas Cook to finding a new role at AXA and then working from home during a global pandemic. She explains why she loves working in cyber security and why she thinks more women should join the industry.
Last September, Kavita Pemberton was made redundant with immediate effect. “AXA came as a blessing to me in a very stressful period of my life,” she says. “I was contacted by a resourcing partner at AXA about an information security officer role. He was very kind and helpful and answered all my questions about the role and the company.” From shortlisting to acceptance, the whole recruitment process took just under two weeks. And while Kavita had other potential work options lined up, she chose AXA because of the first impression of the resourcing partner and line manager: “When I spoke to these people I just felt so comfortable. I’ve learnt that it's the people who make the difference and that's definitely the case at AXA. I feel very lucky to be working with a very talented and down to earth team.” Before AXA, Kavita worked fora number of large corporates. She started as a website developer, where she used to design and develop websites, before moving into software development, software testing and then software security.
Kavita was already working at home a couple of days a week before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down offices across the world. “I was set up to work from home,” she says, “but my manager and their manager were both very supportive and we had – and continue to have –regular catch ups via Skype and on the phone. My immediate manager has been very empathetic through lockdown – especially when we were doing home schooling because they have two young children too! My manager understood when my son would come in running for help and vice versa! It was certainly a challenging situation and it made me realise that AXA was the right place for me.”
A male dominated industry
Women currently make up just 11% of the cyber security sector worldwide. When she first moved into cyber security, Kavita admits that she didn't really think of it as being a male dominated industry – mainly because that was what she was used to, having spent her whole career in IT. Kavita explains what attracted her to the industry: “It’s the impact on other people's lives, which gives me an opportunity to make a difference by protecting the data assets for corporations and individuals. The variety, opportunity and impact of cyber security makes for an exciting career – there are no boring days here!”
Kavita goes on to explain that the cyber security industry is evolving daily. “The industry tools and trends are changing so I’m constantly learning. At AXA, we’re given the freedom to learn on the job and we’re not judged by how we spend our time. Every day is exciting and there's always a new puzzle that needs to be solved. With each new wave of technology, new risks are created and it’s my job as a security professional to identify, understand and help address these problems and that makes me really excited!”
Women in cyber security
Kavita truly believes that the cyber security industry is growing with lots of potential for the future. “It's hard to think of an industry that offers better job security. With cyber increasing in skills, sophistication and technology, cyber security professionals are needed now more than ever because it’s so important that we have good cyber security professionals to protect our data. It’s critical that women enter this field and pave the way for others who may have a passion or interest in it. There’s a lot of support for women who are genuinely attracted to the industry and universities are now offering cyber security degrees. Personally I would strongly recommend looking into this exciting field, which provides a stable career and good work life balance.”