EIB CISO: “Information security is a constant challenge”

Jelena Zelenovic Matone leads the Women4Cyber Luxembourg chapter Romain Gamba

Jelena Zelenovic Matone leads the Women4Cyber Luxembourg chapter Romain Gamba

Tell us: how often are you the only woman in a room? 

Jelena Zelenovic Matone: More often than you can imagine. For cybersecurity matters, I am usually always the only [one]. There can be meetings with 19 men and myself [but] the meetings can be awkward only if you allow them to be...

What could be done to address the shortage of women in the field of cybersecurity? 

It’s a complex topic that starts at an early age and the culture girls grow up in. However, schools can introduce early Stem programmes to encourage girls more in this field... Mentoring programmes can [also] help encourage more women to join the field...

Why did you decide to work in cybersecurity, and how challenging is it to keep up to date in this rapidly changing field? 

I loved Stem and, for me, it was natural that I would end up in such a field. Finishing a computer engineering major, I started as a consultant in the early stages of Sox and was lucky that I had a much-needed experience at that time. Excellent managers [supported me] to pursue it further and get my Cisa certification... I kept acquiring more knowledge and skills, which was (and still is) very crucial to continue in this fast-paced environment...

I love the challenges and constant learning that this field provides and requires... The field of information security is a constant challenge in managing the evolving threats [but is also] immensely satisfying and rewarding... 

You launched Women4Cyber through Women Cyber Force in March. What are the goalsof this initiative? 

Established as part of the European Cyber Security Organisation’s Women4Cyber Foundation, Women4Cyber’s aim is to boost women’s participation in the field of cybersecurity. We want to create long-lasting career choices for women, either via mentoring and empowering or keeping a network… The group aims to make more urgent the goal of getting girls and women interested in cybersecurity. Mixed partnerships will help allow the initiative to run training courses, and the team is hoping as well to launch its first hackathon, more information about which should be forthcoming.

What advice would you give young people considering a career in cybersecurity?

We can practically say that the use of the internet is one of the most critical global economic developments and international security factors. [P]olitical tensions between countries [and] leadership changes make it that much harder for cybersecurity cooperation among nations. And this will not end any time soon. It can only continue to advance as technologies advance... 

I believe that we are gifted with the natural ability to plan, prepare and deliver in times of crisis intrinsically, or when significant events occur. No matter how devastating, we have the innate ability to “roll with the punches”, while sustaining our credibility and integrity and remaining whole, no matter what work or life will throw our way. I am a firm believer that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that it is critical to us, as women, to realise all what we have, above [all], our intelligence--  of course, [when] given opportunities and sometimes permitted to follow through on matters that are forward thinking.

I believe in the next generations to come, in their diversity, newly acquired skills that we did not have back then, capacities, abilities, and competencies. I believe that if you believe in yourself, the sky is the limit. 

This article originally appeared in the Delano June 2020 print edition.