January 2023 episode | Mission Critical: Closing the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

The January 2023 episode of the Arizona Technology Council's AZTechCast podcast featured experts including Dara Gibson, AZ president of WiCyS Phoenix and senior manager at Optiv; Susan Morris, co-owner of ABL Cyber Academy and Cogent Cyber Range; and Andrew Roberts, chief cybersecurity strategist...

January 2023 episode | Mission Critical: Closing the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

Episode Overview

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Did you know that the global cybersecurity workforce gap is roughly 3.4 million people? This means that the supply of skilled cybersecurity workers needed to protect businesses from cyber threats has struggled to keep up with growing demand.

Throughout this hour-long episode, the panel of three experts discussed how they became interested in cybersecurity careers, the current global state of cybersecurity, the top cyber threats to watch out for and how businesses are more closely integrating cybersecurity within their business operations to protect themselves, their employees and their clients. On multiple occasions, the experts emphasized the growing disparity between open cybersecurity positions and the pool of skilled talent, and highlighted that people don’t need to be cybersecurity experts to land careers in the growing field.

Dara divides her time between being the Arizona president of WiCyS Phoenix and senior manager at Optiv. The mission of WiCyS is to help build a strong, gender-diverse cybersecurity workforce by facilitating recruitment, retention and advancement for women in the field. The organization is global and unites local communities of aspiring and thriving women cybersecurity professionals to collaborate, share their knowledge, network and mentor. On the other hand, Optiv is a leader in cyber advisory and solutions that works alongside clients to manage cyber risk and equip them with perspectives and programs to accelerate business programs. Dara has developed and managed cybersecurity services for five years, and is passionate about building lasting partnerships with clients to protect shareholder value and corporate reputations. Throughout the podcast conversation, Dara emphasized that the cybersecurity landscape is evolving and will require a diverse and skilled workforce to combat threats that are becoming increasingly more complex.

As the co-owner of the Advanced Business Learning Cyber Academy and Cogent Cyber Range, Susan’s areas of expertise include business consulting, research, design, development and implementation of workforce effectiveness solutions and corporate change initiatives that produce bottom-line results for clients. From over 30 years of experience in workforce effectiveness, Susan understands reducing human error-caused data breaches requires more than building employee knowledge, skills and abilities. Throughout the conversation, she emphasized the need for ongoing, hands-on, competency-lined skills training, well-designed work processes and cybersecurity performance measures that support business objectives, among other things. At Cogent Cyber Range, Advanced Business Learning provides a space for aspiring and existing cybersecurity professionals to keep their skill sets sharp by combating cyber threats in person or in the cloud. Cyber ranges function much like law enforcement or military training ranges do in that they simulate attacks and provide professionals the opportunity to practice their responses in a high-pressure situation. All of the speakers agreed that this type of training can make a huge difference in lessening the probability of human error and heightening an organization’s online defenses.

Finally, Andrew’s line of work as the chief cybersecurity strategist for cStor, a MicroAge Company, has led him to partner with clients to help them achieve great accomplishments in their cybersecurity, governance, risk and compliance programs. He is working to build a successful cybersecurity practice by focusing on client success, sales enablement and partner alignment. cStor’s proven capabilities with best-in-class technologies provide peace of mind and put organizations on a path to success. During the podcast, Andrew mentioned that cybersecurity professionals no longer need a four-year degree to land a position within the field – in fact, there are now a number of accredited programs available that function more like apprenticeships in that they prepare professionals for different types of cybersecurity roles without the barriers that come with obtaining a four-year degree. The entire panel agreed that by lowering barriers to access, the cybersecurity sector is opening the door for individuals from all walks of life to more easily obtain the training and experience needed to set themselves up for fulfilling careers in cybersecurity.

In conclusion, the need for cybersecurity isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, the need for skilled cybersecurity teams will only heighten as cybersecurity threats like ransomware and malware become more sophisticated. The panel encouraged analytical and dedicated folks with first-responder experience to consider careers in cybersecurity as those skills can make them desirable candidates for an array of available jobs. By spreading awareness of cybersecurity opportunities, Arizona can get a bit closer to closing the workforce gap that currently exists. Watch the replay below to get a full look into the conversation with these three inspiring experts.


AZ President of WiCyS Phoenix and Sr. Manager at Optiv

Co-Owner of ABL Cyber Academy and Cogent Cyber Range

Chief Cybersecurity Strategist at cStor, A MicroAge Company

About AZTechCast
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/techcast to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.

About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.


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January 2023 episode | Mission Critical: Closing the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap