2014 Women of influence

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These seven women are featured for their noteworthy efforts, which have impacted the field of online security and data privacy for the better.

Joyce Brocaglia  
president and CEO, Alta Associates; founder of the Executive Women's Forum (EWF)

When Joyce Brocaglia peruses the panelists and keynotes at most security and IT conferences, she doesn't see many women on the roster, which means she still has plenty of work left to do both as CEO of Alta Associates, a leading executive search firm in IT risk management, information security and privacy, and as tireless evangelist of the Executive Women's Forum (EWF).

Nearly 30 years after founding Alta – two decades after Russians hacked into Citibank and the search firm helped build the first-ever information security organization, evolving into the go-to firm for CISOs and the teams that support them for companies that are the targets of sophisticated cyber attacks and identity theft – Brocaglia says that while “plenty of women are thought leaders,” they continue to navigate a thornier path than men marked by obstacles and pitfalls — among them that a “loving, caring, nurturing side is seen as a weakness.”  

  Still, women in security have marched steadily toward progress and their strengths, beyond their skillsets, are in demand. Many C-level searches these days aren't just looking for the most technical person but rather “they're asking us for influencers,” says Brocaglia, whose own greatest influence has been her mother. That's just the kind of security professionals that she has spent years amassing at both Alta and the EWF. 

Having spent a good deal of her own career “as the only woman in the room,” Brocaglia realized she had “met a lot of great women” along the way, but discovered “they didn't know each other.” By creating the EWF, she hoped to construct a “safe venue for women to share their ideas and empower each other.” And, indeed, what started as a cocktail party meetup has turned into a more than 750-member strong “sisterhood” that help women hone and grow their professional and leadership skills, build important networks and gather industry business intelligence -- and supports educational opportunities for women security. 

The goal: to help women gain and sustain the confidence they need to assume leadership roles in the security industry. “Leadership is 15 percent technical competence and 85 percent confidence,” she says. The EWF's mission extends beyond helping women achieve their professional aspirations to helping them fulfill their personal dreams. “Women live integrated lives, we're expected to do all things at all times,” says Brocaglia, noting the importance of pursuing professional and personal endeavors with competence and confidence. Response to her efforts have been overwhelmingly positive…from both genders. “Men and women at the top are equally supportive of our mission to advance women in our field,” Brocaglia says. – Teri Robinson

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