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Julie

Julie’s List of Learning:

  • Finding diverse, exceptional engineering talent isn’t hard for the reasons the tech industry would lead you to believe
  • It’s important to be loyal to your employees even when not “good for business.”
  • Meetings are almost always wasteful; writing is better
  • Networking with a friendship and kindness-first approach is best
  • Taking charge is often a function of pushing yourself to speak up
  • There is no such thing as being able to make a decision with a guaranteed outcome

People always say, ‘The more you rise the more you become humble’ and when you see that in actual, you start believing it. Yes,  Julie Davila, Vice President of Global Field CTO Operations, Sophos is one such example. She is not only friendly, but has a problem solving attitude. Wearing a hat that has many feathers representing success stories, such as helping the first federal migration into the public cloud (AWS) while implementing much-needed deployment automation for NASA’s web applications and helping R&D team for MindPoint Group as an engineering manager, to build and prototype various cyber tools. She also regularly volunteers as a mentor with various non-profits that focus on assisting these groups within the context of cybersecurity and technology. List of success stories is long for our ‘Women & Tech’ personality this week. Below are the excerpts of her chit-chat with Associate Editor, Channel360MEA.

The beginning
Julie joined the tech world as a systems administrator and web developer. After working with startups, she had the chance to be part of the team that migrated NASA’s applications to the public cloud. It was a massive project: just moving NASA’s “flagship portal” of nasa.gov, which contains around 200,000 pages of content, took about 13 weeks. After this, she joined another startup, Ansible, where she helped clients automate IT workflows, including complex security controls. “I developed an open-source tool that automates security benchmarks during this time. It was this experience that inspired my focused career dive into security,” added Julie.

Julie further shared that in 2012, she was doing contract admin work when a former client suggested an IT job to me. At this time, she didn’t know if she was suitable, but retrospectively, she agreed because of her high degree of aptitude.

Julie playing her favourite sport, Ice Hockey.

Milestones on the way:

  • Competing at the highest tier for her age group at USA Hockey Women’s Nationals soon in Florida.
  • Leading an effort with many industry peers to try to make FedRAMP, a US Cybersecurity regulation for the federal government, simpler for cloud service providers to go through.

Women in the World of Technology

When asked if still the ICT industry has less women leaders, she replied, “No, I think it’s the opposite. There are more women now in IT, even in cybersecurity.” More than before there are resources to facilitate encouraging women to pursue technology careers. These resources are seemingly everywhere, including for young girls in school, women in college, women transitioning careers, and even those already in the industry. In addition, organizations are now capitalizing on their female workforce by organizing internal groups and programs dedicated to women, and externally by using them as ambassadors or keynote speakers during conferences (WiCyS is my favorite).

The Trust Factor
She feels there is a trust issue from the peers, but she tries not to think about that too much. “I certainly have dealt with overt sexism though it wasn’t directly aimed at my competence. The reality is that many women have dealt with or will have to deal with sexism in the workplace in some form,” Julie shared. Whether it’s a pay gap or whether it’s outright verbal overstepping or assault. If history is any indicator, we’re a tough bunch, we don’t give up, and we’re stronger than ever. It’s my impression and experience that we, as an industry, are trending in the right direction.

The edge
In a prior leadership position, she was once approached by a fellow woman from her team regarding a contractor that was making her feel uncomfortable due to conversational topics he would bring up. “After a warning, the behavior continued, and I immediately terminated his contract which included a clause agreeing to adhere to our code of conduct. Having been in situations like this allowed me the foresight to develop protection mechanisms within the very text of my subcontractor agreement which allowed for fast resolution,” she added. 

Sophos Empowering women
Sophos has a wonderful group of women within an internal resource group called Sophos Women in Tech (SWiT) and it’s fantastic initiatives within the group include addressing gender pay gaps at a global level, promoting STEM among school-aged girls, and facilitating mentorship and training for women within the company to improve their skills in areas in which women often have less experience or confidence (such as negotiating). “It’s truly impressive,” she concluded.

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