A 15-year veteran at Accenture, Urszula Fabiszak, managing director for information security, has earned her status as a Power Player.
Fabiszak was never one to back off from a challenge. When Accenture embarked on the complex task of consolidating hundreds of its legacy systems and applications, Fabiszak was asked to manage the massive organizational and technology change across the business.
Fabiszak learned how Accenture operated internally and ran its business, and a few years later, she was asked to lead a security culture change program under Accenture’s new CISO in the company’s newly-created Information Security unit.
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“We had the proverbial ‘blank slate’ to create something new, big and exciting,” said Fabiszak. “We all felt like entrepreneurs. The raw creativity, innovation and enthusiasm were the main things that attracted me to the role back then. Today, we run a very mature cybersecurity organization, but the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive today. We continue to disrupt and re-invent ourselves as the security landscape continues to evolve rapidly.”
Fast forward to this year and Fabiszak directed and delivered against the year’s most challenging and troubling cyberthreats by rolling out multi-factor authentication awareness videos, evolving social engineering education to include the latest phishing threats like QRishing and launching a smishing program at Accenture that delivers smishing tests directly to an employee’s phone.
Fabiszak has also worked in tandem with an all-women analytics team to create and deliver a Secure Behavior Score tool which uses actual employee performance data to deliver a singular, individual, and tailored score to each Accenture employee. The score identifies information security gaps and offers personalized guidance to further drive accountability and change behaviors. Collectively, these efforts have earned Fabiszak’s team a top maturity level in the SANS benchmark with a score of 4.8 out of 5.
The path to success for Fabiszak was far from a straight line.
Fabiszak said when she came to the United States as an immigrant from Poland, her immediate goal was to find work — any work — to save enough money to earn a degree from an American university and an eventual job in business. Her dream was to pursue an MBA in International Marketing and Finance and develop a career in that industry. She worked two jobs for a few years to save money to pay her tuition and pursue the American dream.
When Accenture came to her campus — the DePaul Driehaus College of Business in Chicago — they were looking to recruit for their new Organizational Change practice. Fabiszak said it was a perfect match because she had worked as a teacher in Poland for a few years and many of those skills were transferable to the organizational change job.
Fabiszak said she sought out and was inspired by leaders who were security trailblazers and had the vision and courage to disrupt the status quo. At Accenture, Fabiszak said she worked with CISOs who motivated her and constantly challenged her to improve.
“I remember our first CISO asking me at the beginning of each year: ‘What will you be famous for at the end of this year, Urszula?” said Fabiszak. “That put a different kind of pressure on me and my team. It pushed us to reach for the stars every time, even when, at times, we thought we’d done all that was to be done. We always sought new ways to raise the bar and deliver innovative, impactful results.”
As far as recruiting women into cybersecurity, Fabiszak said there’s no one “best place” to find women who can excel in the cybersecurity business. Fabiszak said she works with successful women with backgrounds in deep tech and great project managers who learned security along the way. Some also have experience in creative fields such as gaming, marketing, or training.
“There are many aspects to running a successful security organization — from strategy to technology, operations and education — and there’s no shortage of great talent,” said Fabiszak. “I mentor women in our core security practice and those in other parts of IT who want to try something new. We’ve also recruited employees from our learning and marketing practices.”
One of the testimonials SC Media received about Fabiszak was from a team member who commented on her management style:
“She never made me feel like I had to choose between prioritizing work and family. Time off was expected to be taken and celebrations with the team were important to have. She made me realize I can be successful in a corporate setting and be a mom — something that I greatly appreciate in today’s work environment.”