African Women in CyberSecurity: Spotlight on Sikka Jessica Gomez- the Infosec Rockstar & Shero

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Hello there.. It feels like ages since we last shared something here and we truly apologise. But to make up we decided to bring you something really interesting and yes, we are back!!!

In a world where women are told ” Be assertive but not bossy, feminine but not prissy, experienced but not condescending, fashionable but not superficial, forceful but not shrill. Put simply: she should be masculine, but not too masculine; feminine, but not too feminine. She should be everything, which means she should be nothing. That” – Anne Helen Peterson

Information Security Rockstar and Shero (She-roe) “Sikka Jessica Gomez” is changing that stereotype and image. Sikka believes you can be as beautiful as Beyonce and still be a geek like  Jobs, Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

Read the awesome conversation we had with Sikka below.

Hi Sikka, it’s a pleasure to meet you, could you tell us where you’re from and what you do?

My Name is Jessica Sikka (meaning Gold in Togolese ) Gomez. I’m beninese living and working as Senior Security Consultant/ Information Security Analyst at serenIT in Switzerland.

What did you study in school and how did you find yourself doing infosec?

Well, First of all i had my bachelors degree in electrical engineering with a major in energy systems. That’s because i was passionate about renewable energy like solar, wind and water to produce electricity. After that i wanted to be polyvalent and learned management economic leadership etc. So i got my master degree in the business school which was in management of information systems.

Then i found myself loving to do that and being passionate of information technology science. But it didn’t get so easy. With my Masters degree, i tried to find a job;  but it wasn’t coming easy as an African living in Switzerland. So after 1 year i was tired of doing nothing so i tried my luck, i subscribed myself in 3 EMBA formations. With 6 months of experience,  and thank God one of them accepted my profile.and it was information security.

What happened In between EMBA, completing and getting a degree? How did you achieve that?

Because the courses are in 2 years, only once a week every Thursday night and i was still without a job. And the condition given for getting the degree was ‘you got to have a job’. Wow you can’t imagine, God did it…in my last year i got a one year internship at the IOC international olympic Committee. I was the CISO assistant. For me, that was a breakthrough having to work under the tutelage of this person for a year, i couldn’t be more honoured and grateful. So yes that was how i started my professional career as an Information Security Analyst.

So Sikka, has there been any aspect of Infosec that you find intriguing or challenging ever since you started?

Of course… how to integerate infosec into a company and particularly the employees, The bigger thread in a company is the people and their behaviors. When you try to implement an information security management system with policies, guidelines and rules they automatically become rude  and i constantly need to learn how to fit in their daily activities into the culture of information security

Why do you think other young girls and women aren’t considering a career in information security?

Personally i was destinate by my parents to be an engineer (my father and his brothers are all engineers ) so i grew up with that mindset. I was also pretty good in mathematic and physics; but that doesn’t mean you can’t be an engineer or an infosec person if you’re not good with maths. I know people who hated it but are thriving in this field. I also think the reason why women don’t consider information & cybersecurity is that, they are uncomfortable with the fact that technical science careers aren’ t for women,and they think that you cannot be sexy and a complete woman in those jobs.

Yes it’s obvious it’s a man’s world, But women can deal with it and appropriate it to their womanhood. My nails are long and always colorful, i wear dresses, heels , and i do make up ( lightly) i have friends and family who are proud of me and push me everyday to do more.

It is our duty as women in tech to change the images that the world has of women in those career.

Sikka does a mani cam 🙂

How do you deal with challenges faced at work and what did you do consistently to bring yourself here besides your degree & trainings?

Honestly, it’s been God all through. And also perseverance, making my profile unique and special. There is a lack of competences like me, so i designed myself to meet Switzerland needs. You always need to change your strategy if you want them to see you as a competence and not just a black African woman. I made myself a competence, a very good one, so that they must have a hard choice to make, that’s the only way. it took me 10 years of school and 3 years of being unemployed to get to this point and i have no regrets one bit.

 

African Women in CyberSecurity: Spotlight on Sikka Jessica Gomez – the Infosec Shero & Diva

 

What do you think can be done to bring more women into infosec?

I think we women in infosec need more to testify about how passionate it is. How you can easily take the best of the both world in infosec : the technical world and the management & governance world.

I think infosec is a call, if you want to do something to protect people and human rights, you also need to secure information and private datas. it s like being a super woman for information and privacy across the cyber network. And i see myself like that, as a super woman protecting people in the web.

For this to work, we women in infosec  and cybersecurity need to change our image in tech, why cant we have an OPRAH or BEYONCÉ in Infosec?! It s possible to dress like Beyoncé and to be a geek like Jobs, GATES, OR ZUCKERBERG.

What’s your advice or words of inspiration for those who want to get in or are fairly new in their career?

Perseverance, Passion, Faith in God, then in your capabilities to do anything you want …ANYTHING. Also very important, have in mind that tech is for now male saturated and when women get in, it won’t be rosy. There  will be some challenges to face, it is a fact. Just keep in mind that only your competence and work and integrity will justify your place between them and help you to own their respect.

Connect with Sikka on Linkedin and Twitter.

She Secures Spotlight is set to inspire the next wave of African women in information & cybersecurity to step forward and positively influence future development.

“The mere fact of being able to call your job your passion is success in my eyes.” — Alicia Vikander

 

 

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