In a discussion about creating more diversity in the field of cybersecurity, Department of Agriculture CISO Venice Goodwine encouraged cyber professionals not to let anyone put them in a box, to invest in themselves, and to be deliberate in their career decisions.

Goodwine reflected on her own experience as she spoke to members of the cybersecurity field at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security’s National Cybersecurity Summit on Sept. 30. Throughout her cybersecurity career, Goodwine said she knew she wanted to work her way up toward becoming a CIO. Using a skills mapping tool, she documented what she would need to know to take on the role, and then started investing in herself.

“You want to get out of your comfort zone,” Goodwine advised. “Cyber skills are not just about the technical, it’s also about soft skills as well.” Soft skills such as critical thinking, analytics, problem solving, and negotiation are all important to a successful cybersecurity career. “The ability to build and maintain relationships,” she continued, “is going to be the skill that you will use the most and that will help you be the most successful.”

Goodwine said that building those relationships has helped her own career, but added that she is intentionally diverse when it comes to selecting mentors to capture a wide variety of insights. “It’s that diverse nature that brings that diversity of thought and that diversity of experience that also allows me to have a broad range of thinking,” she explained.

With the right soft skills in place, technical cyber skills can be taught to candidates to prepare them for the job they want. Goodwine recommended that cyber professionals be creative when it comes to finding free ways to build technical skills, including through volunteer opportunities and instructional webinars. Other resources like the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Framework can be used as a roadmap to help individuals identify skills and map where they need to go, she said.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.