Q&A with Lise Lapointe, a CEO, Author & Woman in Security

In honor of International Women’s Day and to celebrate the fact that Terranova Security is a woman- owned company , we thought it was important to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women as well as raise awareness that still much needs to be done to shrink the gender gap in IT and cyber security sectors.

“You’ve come a long way baby, but still have a long way to go.”

That twist on the popular advertising slogan from 1968 accurately depicts the status of women working in the cyber security field today. An estimate based on research from Cybersecurity Ventures, and comments from Forrester in this Dark Reading article estimate that number of women working in the cyber security field has grown to around 20 percent in 2019 compared to 11 % in 2013. In the absence of any new research, the 11 percent figure continued to show up in the media until recently.

That’s a good jump, but in an industry where the gap between qualified professionals and open jobs in information security / cyber security is expected to hit between 1.8 million and 3.5 million by 2022, we can do better.

For some advice for women who want to get into cyber security or are trying to decide if it’s right for them, we spoke to Lise Lapointe, CEO of Terranova Security.

Q: Your background was in teaching and training. How did you end up working in cyber security?

Lapointe: My career started in teaching, but I quickly – and unexpectedly – got into IT training 25 years ago. I’ve always loved training because it’s something positive; it helps improve people’s lives and situations. I love technology because it’s changing all the time; it’s challenging and so dynamic.

I transitioned into cyber security as my second business venture. We discovered a gap and huge need for end user training in the security market. This decision also satisfied my desire to take on a business that can be applied globally and be product oriented. We launched Terranova Security and our first security awareness course in 2003.

Q: Not only are you a woman CEO, you’re a woman CEO of a security business, an industry where women are still a minority. What changes have you seen over the years for women working in Security?

Lapointe: When I first started in this business, you could count on one hand the number of women you would run into at an industry event. Today there are security industry events and professional organizations where women are the primary attendees and members. But we still have a long way to go.

Q: What is Terranova Security doing to advocate women working in cyber security?

Lapointe: In the industry, Terranova Security works with different associations to help women get started in security and security awareness.

As an entrepreneur, women have played an important role in every business I’ve owned or led. Today at Terranova Security, 54 percent of our employees are women. I strongly believe that the mix of men and women is important. It brings new ideas and creativity to the table for our products and helps identify new ways of doing things that can improve operations and make the business move faster.

Q: What advice do you have for women who are considering going into the security / cyber security business?

Lapointe: The opportunities to work in cyber security are endless.

First, make sure you have a can-do mindset. Don’t let your background limit you. Read and discover what aspect of security interests you most. Complement your education with training or security certifications.

The opportunity to work in cyber security is limited only by how you package yourself. For example, the opportunity for attorneys to work in cyber security is growing. Compliance with existing and new regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), opens the door to someone in the legal profession to work in the security world. People in finance, marketing and don’t forget training and education can specialize and have a career in security.

And find a mentor. Whether it’s a woman or a man, a mentor can help guide and encourage you along your career path.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book on cyber security, and who is this book for?

For starters, training is my passion and so is information technology. I think training is such a positive thing—it creates real change in people’s everyday lives. Plus, technology keeps evolving, and that’s what makes the field so interesting.

Also, many security awareness leaders that have been conducting awareness programs for years know that “the devil is in the details” when building a successful program. Initial attempts on getting an awareness program started are usually done by trial and error.

That hit-and-miss approach is often ineffective or frustrating, making funding for new programs hard to get.

In this book, my team and I show readers how to mastermind their own security awareness program with our easy-to-follow Terranova Security Awareness 5-Step Framework. Working in the security awareness industry for close to two decades, we share our lessons learned from helping clients all over the world design and deliver successful security awareness programs.

We guide them through the entire process, outlining everything they need to consider and do to create a security awareness program that is adapted to the needs of their organization—a program that effectively raises security awareness and keeps best practices top of mind across your organization by changing human behavior.

Lise’s story is unique and inspiring to any woman considering a career in cyber security. You can read about her start in the industry in her book, “The Human Fix to Human Risk”.


The Human Fix to Human Risk™ – A must-read for CISOs and security awareness teams

The ebook provides step-by-step guidance on how to develop an effective security awareness program that enhances security behaviors.