Our new venture, Inspiring Journeys in Cybersecurity, is an attempt to showcase our member's journeys in the domain. We will continue to bring more inspiring journeys in the future.
Kera Hoyte, originally from Barbados, loves cooking, reading, watching cartoons, and Korean food. Her goals to accomplish this year are obtaining the CCSK and PMI-CAPM. Currently working towards becoming a Cybersecurity Project Manager and doing a podcast called Let’s Talk; which will cover her journey, topics in technology, and many other topics apart from tech. After taking a gap year from school; Kera attended Drexel University and hopes to restart in the fall. She is also an avid reader; the last book she read was Atomic Habits by James Clear and is currently reading: Finding Me by Viola Davis.
Tell us about your journey in Cybersecurity, your ups and downs, and your accomplishments.
My journey in Cybersecurity started during the pandemic. I switched majors in 2020 from a nursing major to B.S. in Computing and Security Technology, concentration in Security Technology. It’s interesting because the pandemic was how I was able to get my first role as a Support Analyst. I volunteered with the IT department during the first lockdown when everyone started working from home and after returning to work, they offered me a full-time position.
Initially, my biggest concern was being told that I lacked experience in Cybersecurity. This led to constantly changing my mind about what I wanted to do in the domain.
The information was overwhelming. When I started to drown out all the noise and everyone's opinion, it became easier to narrow down what I wanted and it took me a fair few years to reach this point.
What drove you to Cybersecurity?
My interest in Cybersecurity sparked after I took an introductory course in pen-testing; only to realize that I found coding stressful. Over the last few years, I’ve done blogging, newsletters, and a few other things and what I’ve learned is; I like the Program/Project Management side of Cybersecurity. I thrive on finding solutions to problems that people say can’t be achieved and thinking outside the box. Cybersecurity project management deals with managing, executing, and implementing security-related projects. I want to be responsible for making sure that the organization follows best practices and does things the correct way.
One thing you wish to change about the Cybersecurity domain?
One thing I would change about the Cybersecurity domain is to make it easier to obtain entry-level roles. The standards for entry-level roles are so high that sometimes it's hard to decipher what the organizations are looking for. Anyone can be trained for a role; it is just a matter of giving them a chance.
Do you think communities play a role in uplifting someone in this domain or does one need to play solo?
Yes, I do believe that communities play a role in uplifting an individual.
I started using LinkedIn regularly in 2020 and met some great people who helped me navigate and answer my queries. One thing that I struggle with is asking for help and prefer to figure out things on my own. But I’ve met a few great people on LinkedIn that I can go to if I ever get stuck on something and need clarification. I usually wait until I’ve exhausted all other resources. It's been helpful because they have been in the industry longer.
One challenge, according to you, that women face in the cybersecurity domain. How did you overcome it?
I took a few classes in person; since my degree is mainly online and occasionally, I would attend a lecture. Most of the time I was the only female in the class. In the previous position, I had hired a lot of women but they were never promoted past level one. In my opinion, I feel as women we must justify our career choice since it’s considered such a male-dominated field, and prove ourselves over and over, while working twice as hard. In my current position, I’m one of two women on the team. This is the first role I’ve had where I don’t feel the need to constantly prove myself just because I’m a woman.
I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it, I’ve learned to navigate certain situations and realized not everything deserves a response as it can be stressful mentally. One thing that I’ve noticed over the last few years is more women in tech and I love to see it.
How has your experience been with the Breaking Barriers Women In Cybersecurity Foundation?
My experience with BBWIC has been amazing. I think it has been almost a year.
I met the ladies at the end-of-the-year get-together and it was good to sit and get to know everyone outside of the webinars. It was reassuring to know that someone else feels the same as me, we’re all trying to navigate work, schools, kids, and everything in between and still trying to reach our desires.
Interviewed and edited by Dr Sana Fatima
(Sana is an advisory board member of the BBWIC Foundation. A dental surgeon, writer, and a full-time editor in a publishing house, Sana is a cybersecurity enthusiast herself.)