Cybersecurity Is For Everyone: Three Women Leading the Charge at Prove

From hacker flicks to contemporary inclusion practices, three women talk about life at Prove.

Written by Jenny Lyons-Cunha
Published on Jun. 14, 2023
Cybersecurity Is For Everyone: Three Women Leading the Charge at Prove
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When asked about her path to cybersecurity, Prove CIO and CISO Amanda Fennell cites two disparate muses in her origin story. 

“The movie Sneakers came out in 1992 and absolutely forged my love of computers,” Fennell said of the hacker flick. “This security professional tale showed me that critical thinking and being human are key.” 

In adulthood, a more sober force shaped her worldview: Locard’s Principle of Exchange. Fennell had stumbled across the concept while earning her bachelor’s degree in archaeology. 

“I was looking for the right path to galvanize my love of investigations and digging,” she said. “Locard, father of forensic science, famously said that no matter what, something is left behind — whether it is hair, DNA or computer code.

“Trying to figure out how everything works and what is left behind was a wonderful segue from archaeology into cyber,” she continued.

 

WHAT PROVE DOES

Prove’s identity verification and authentication platform is trusted by over 1,000 companies — including eight of the top 10 banks — to reduce fraud while also improving consumer experiences. Prove’s technology uses mobile phones to easily and securely prove identities in channels such as mobile, desktop and in-store. Its customers have reported results such as 79 percent faster onboarding, $850 million in additional sales and a 75 percent reduction in fraud using its unique technology.

 

Locard’s principle ignited Fennell’s exploration of cyberpsychology, a concept at the cutting edge of the industry.

“Verbiage and colors affect how humans feel about the technology they’re seeing on their personal screens,” Fennell said. “Cyberpsychology makes the user a part of a cyber solution, rather than part of the problem.” 

Amongst the discourse on cyberpsychology and cybersecurity in contemporary media, there was a notable topic missing from Fennell’s recent profile in Authority Magazine: Being a woman in cybersecurity. 

While Fennell is indeed a woman reshaping the industry, she is first and foremost a cybersecurity leader. The conversation was so rich with insights on the future of cyber fraud and diversity of thought, there was little room for dialogue on womanhood in STEM.

The fact that this ever-present topic isn’t the focal point of Fennell’s profile doesn’t mean she isn’t a role model. 

Walk into a room of 10 cybersecurity professionals, and you are likely to encounter two — maybe three — women. Despite strides forward in STEM, of the 4.7 million professionals powering the global cybersecurity workforce, only one quarter are women, the World Economic Forum recently reported.

The same report noted that 70 percent of women in STEM broke into the field because of a role model who illuminated the way.

At Prove, Fennell is one such role model, lighting the path for the women in cybersecurity that follow. Hailing from New Orleans, she holds multiple degrees in various fields of information sciences and serves as an adjunct professor of cybersecurity. Fennell, who has over two decades of security industry experience, believes that everyone has the capacity to become a “cyber warrior.” 

“Leaders and those who are hiring must look for curious people who have potential, and these candidates can come from any background,” she said. “Diversity of thought is what will benefit all who work within IT — and those who consume its products and services.” 

 

“Diversity of thought is what will benefit all who work within IT — and those who consume its products and services.”

 

 

Creative Director Namrata Narayanan on Embracing Her Strengths 

Understanding is the cornerstone of any flourishing cybersecurity team, said Creative Director Namrata Narayanan.

“The energies of men and women can be different — and so can our perspectives,” Narayanan said. “My experience has been that not every man has the capacity or sensitivity to understand a woman’s space and needs in the workplace.”

To thrive, Narayanan has had to recognize and embrace her natural personality rather than force herself into a more assertive role. She has unlearned the trope that bold professionals earn more respect. 

“I had to come to terms with who I am as a person — I am not inherently aggressive or loud — and dig deep to find my own authentic voice,” she said. 

For Narayanan, that meant celebrating her unique empathetic capabilities. Fortunately, Prove has not just supported her abilities but elevated them within her leadership role. 

“You have to be aware of what makes you different from others — and be comfortable with it,” she said. “It’s important to acknowledge what your strengths are and to work with others to improve and flourish.”

 

“You have to be aware of what makes you different from others — and be comfortable with it.” 

 

“It’s always going to be a journey, but if you’re doing better than you were yesterday, you’re on the right track,” she added. 

 

Business Data Analyst Mina Weldon on Celebrating Identity 

Though she is a relative newcomer to the cybersecurity field, Business Data Analyst Mina Weldon is no stranger to celebrating her identity in a largely homogenous industry. 

“I was a woman in the oil and gas industry, and an Asian woman at that,” she said, reflecting on her former career path. “The women’s employee network was predominantly white women, and the Asian employee network was predominantly Asian men — I didn’t feel represented, even though those are the two groups that I belonged to.”

In the realm of cybersecurity, though, Weldon has found a renewed sense of belonging at Prove. From Fennell’s assured leadership as CIO and CSO to Weldon’s sense of belonging as an individual contributor, Prove has fostered an environment of psychological safety and authentic inclusion.

“Prove has been a breath of fresh air,” she said. “The office culture in Denver has been proof that Prove walks the walk where diversity is concerned, which matters to me.

“I feel like my voice is heard,” she continued, “that I’m listened to — and that my opinion matters.”

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via Shutterstock (header) and Prove.

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