Women in IT Security, Women to watch

Sivan Tehila: prioritizing mentorship, pandemic or no pandemic

Sivan Tehlia, an SC 2020 Woman to Watch, and Perimeter 81’s director of solution architecture.

Sivan Tehila was just gaining traction for her brand-new Cyber Ladies NYC mentoring organization in March as the pandemic lockdown put the nation on pause. 

A first well-attended Cyber Ladies event had proven her concept. But with the arrival of COVID-19, the question became whether she could adapt her rollout plan to a virtual setting. 

“At the start of the pandemic, I worked with customers to help them shift to remote work overnight,” explained Tehila, an SC 2020 Woman to Watch, and Perimeter 81’s director of solution architecture. “Understanding the challenges and the risks of doing so helped me launch the virtual program.” Nearly 50 participants completed that first online version that recently ended after six weeks. 

Click here for complete coverage of SC Media's 2020 Women in IT Security

“I was also teaching at the time [that COVID-19 hit] and I understood that my students and my Cyber Ladies members were worried about the new normal and how they would be able to start and manage their career in this situation,” the multitasker said. The online mentorship program was able to move fast with her strong relationships in the private sector and academia. 

Besides holding a full-time job and being the founder of Cyber Ladies NYC, Tehila is also an adjunct professor of cybersecurity at Yeshiva University’s MS program, focusing on risk assessment, audit, and testing. In addition, her extra-curricular activities include developing a digital transformation and cybersecurity program for the Manhattan High School for Girls.  

She started at Perimeter 81 in April 2019, after moving to New York from Israel, where her cybersecurity career followed a stint in the military. It was in Israel where she first experienced a Cyber Ladies program. 

How did her new employer respond to all the non-work events on Tehila'd calendar? 

“Since the very beginning, I felt Perimeter 81’s support for the idea of promoting women in cybersecurity," she said. "I feel very lucky to work for a company that shares the same values I believe in and encourages their employees to have a work-life balance as well as extra activities – especially when it comes to social initiatives. I really appreciate it as a working mom and as a woman in cyber.” 

During her service in the Israel Defense Forces, Tehila's titles included intelligence officer, CISO of research and analysis division, and head of the information security department of the intelligence corps. She was honorably discharged as a captain. Later, she joined the Israeli defense technology company Rafael as an information security officer and a profiler. She then served as a cybersecurity consultant for the Israel Railways. 

Even though military service is compulsory for Israeli women, Tehila said that when “served in the Army as a cybersecurity officer, I was often the only woman in the room. I knew it was wrong.” Ergo, Cyber Ladies NYC.  

“Whether in the Army or in the private sector, cybersecurity is a mission, and that is my main motivation to improve my skills, gain more knowledge, and educate others."

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