Shattering cybersecurity’s ‘boys’ club’ culture: 9 inspiring women tech leaders shaping the European cybersecurity sector

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There has always been a dearth of women in digital sectors, including cybersecurity. According to the European Commission, the cybersecurity field is suffering from a massive skills shortage. It cites a ”Women in Cybersecurity” research, which suggests that “the gap, predicted to hit 1.8 million globally by 2022 and 350 000 in Europe alone, is exacerbated by lack of female representation – with women comprising only 11 per cent of the workforce.” It also suggests that the percentage is even lower for Europe – 7 per cent.

According to the EC, “while the shortage of women professionals in the field of cybersecurity represents a key issue, the precondition to address this problem is to build on the existing critical mass of women who are active in cybersecurity.”

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the indomitable spirit of women and women entrepreneurs who are striving for progressive changes in the field of cybersecurity. We have picked 9 inspiring women leaders who are leading cybersecurity in Europe and are paving way for aspiring women to break the cybersecurity glass ceiling.

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1. Anett Madi-Nator, President of the Women4Cyber Foundation

For the past year and 3 months, Anett Madi-Nator has been the President of Women4Cyber Foundation (based in Brussels) – it raises awareness and funds towards a gender-inclusive cybersecurity community, a foundation set up to support the Women4Cyber initiative, launched by ECSO. In addition to that, she is also serving as a Director of International Operations for Cyber Services Plc.

Prior to that, her past work experiences include, Senior Cyber Security Expert, International Relations for Ministry of Defence for Hungary; Head of IT Awareness for National Security Authority, CDMA – Hungary; 5 years as a contractor for Kürt Zrt. – a company that offers solutions for eliminating the consequences of IT disasters, and for preventing disasters, abuses and system problems.

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2. Jelena Zelenovic Matone, CISO, European Investment Bank

With more than 15 years of experience in the cybersecurity field, Jelena Zelenovic is currently working with European Investment Bank (EIB) as a Senior Head, Op. Risk & CISO for the past one year and 7 months. She offers a historic perspective on kinetic attacks and their impact on the world, and how cyberattacks are now influencing how we work, live and conduct commerce.

Prior to that, Jelena has been the President of the Women4Cyber Foundation in Luxembourg. Her work experiences also include Senior Operational Risk and ISO for the European Stability Mechanism, the crisis resolution mechanism for euro area countries. Earlier in her career, Jelena managed IT Audit and Compliance for Sobey’s, one of the two national grocery retailers in Canada and Audit, Corporate Development, M&A and growth strategies and IT Audit for George Weston, one of Canada’s largest publicly traded food processing and distribution companies.

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3. Domitilla Benigni, Chief Operating Officer and Board Member, Elettronica

Domitilla Benigni was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Elettronica in December 2020, sharing the powers with the President & CEO and keeping the position of Chief Operating Officer and Board Member since 2010. She joined Elettronica in 1996, after her Master’s Degree in Electronics Engineering and has gained cross-functional experience in areas such as strategic planning, business development, engineering.

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4. Phedra Clouner, Deputy Director at Centre for Cybersecurity Belgium

Since August 2015, Phedra Clouner has been serving as a Deputy Director for the Centre for Cyber Security Belgium – the central authority for cybersecurity in Belgium. Her role as the Director is to work under the authority of the Belgian Prime Minister to ensure a secure and reliable Belgian cyberspace.

Besides, Phedra is also the founding member of the Women4Cyber Initiative – the initiative is launched by the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) to boost the representativeness and participation of women in cybersecurity. Currently, Phedra has experience in areas such as cybersecurity, management, Information security, ECM, records management, and document management and workflow, among others.

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5. Caroline Guillaume, Chief Operating Officer, Trust In Soft.

Caroline Guillaume is the CEO of Trust In Soft – the company’s products reduce cyber risks, lower the cost of designing safety-critical systems, and reduce liabilities. Prior to that, Caroline has 13 years of experience working as a VP Sales Software Monetisation at Gemalto, where she addressed software and intelligent device vendors developing new business and licensing models in South and Eastern Europe, Israel and Russia. She also has 5 year work experience as the Director of product marketing for Gemplus.

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6. Carmen Gonsalves, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Head International Cyber Policy, The Netherlands

Carmen Gonsalves is an experienced diplomat with experience working in the government administration industry. Currently, she is working as a Head International Cyber Policy at the Ministery of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

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7. Coralie Héritier, CEO, IDnomic

Coralie Héritier is a marketing expert and the current CEO of IDnomic – a digital identity management and PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) solutions of Atos Group. Prior to that, she was Chief Financial Officer at GlobalNews Media for 4 years. She also has experience as CFO of N-Soft – a company that uses its advanced solutions to generate extra Government revenues without raising taxes.

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8. Natali Tshuva, CEO of Sternum

Natali Tshuva Natali brings over 10 years of experience, both as a researcher and a team leader, in the field of cybersecurity and software development. After graduating magna cum laude B.Sc. in Computer Science at the age of 19, as part of a special program for gifted and talented kids, Natali was handpicked to serve in IDF’s 8200 elite technology unit (the Israeli equivalent of NSA) as a security software engineer.

She is a co-founder & CEO of Sternum – an on-device security and visibility solution, that prevents attacks in real-time while providing insights into any connected device. At Sternum, Natali leads the company’s strategy and vision both technologically and commercially. Building a company from scratch, Natali is responsible for business development, technological vision and product development, client engagement, strategic partnerships, fundraising, innovation and most importantly – people, while still enjoying most inventing new algorithms and technologies. Overcoming both technological and market barriers in the IoT cybersecurity space, Sternum now partners with top global companies across different industries. Natali holds an M.Sc in computer science.

Prior to founding Sternum, Natali held several cybersecurity-related roles, including leading different R&D and research teams at two global cyber intelligence market leaders.

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9. Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer at Avast

Jaya Baloo is a Chief Information Security Officer at Avast – a company that protects digital data, identity, and privacy. Prior to that, she has experience working for different organisations including 8 years for KPN Telecom; about 3 and half years at Verizon Business as a Practice Lead Lawful Interception; 5 years at France Telecom as Technical Security Specialist – Fraud & Revenue Assurance, among others.

In 2020, she was elected to Nixu Corporation’s Board of Directors. Originating from Finland, Nixu claims to be one of the largest European companies specialised in cybersecurity services. In the Benelux, the Nixu team has offices in Amsterdam and The Hague, from where cybersecurity experts work daily on both national and global customer assignments.


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