Women in IT Awards Security Champion Interview Series: Elisabetta Zaccaria, Chairman, Secure Chorus

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To celebrate all ten finalists of the Security Champion category at the Women in IT Awards, Infosecurity is running a mini interview series, shining a spotlight on each of the wonderful women who are worthy of their position in the top 10 security champions category.

Today’s interviewee is finalist Elisabetta Zaccaria, Chairman of Secure Chorus.

Tell me in one sentence what your job is about

I’m building a thought leadership organization to promote the long-term security of digitally enabled economies by developing a global ecosystem of interoperable and secure enterprise data sharing technologies – based on open standards and private and public-sector collaboration.

What was your route into cybersecurity? 

 I was Group Chief Operating Officer/Chief Strategy officer at Global Strategies Group in the early 2000s. The company undertook a wide number of complex and sensitive programs, securing a wide variety of critical infrastructure in emerging markets, integrating services and technologies to mitigate operational risks, which included IT security. These were still relatively early days for the global cybersecurity industry and to be working in the sector at such an exciting time captured my interest, and I have been involved in the industry ever since. 

What’s the best thing about your job? 

Creative freedom and the opportunity to build an ecosystem of interoperable and secure data sharing technologies to support a vibrant and secure global digital economy. 

And what’s the worst? Secure Chorus is a not-for-profit membership organization with a multi-stakeholder environment facilitating public-private collaboration, comprising very different industry sectors and companies of different sizes and aims.  With many interests that need to be aligned, it can be challenging to determine the best strategy and consistently drive in that direction.

I admire the UK National Cyber Security Centre, for its ethos and its culture, the way it is engaging with industryElisabetta Zaccaria

What’s your proudest achievement?

In my role as Group Chief Operating Officer/Chief Strategy Officer of Global Strategies Group, I had the privilege to lead the strategy and a group of extremely talented and hard-working individuals. We went through six years of remarkable growth, which transformed the business from a British start-up to a global business, reaching $600 in revenues.

If you could give your 21-year-old self just one piece of career advice…what would it be?

My late father taught me to believe in myself, to never give up and if you fail, learn from it and keep moving forward. This is my absolute motto. 

Who do you really admire in the industry? 

The UK National Cyber Security Centre, for its ethos and its culture, the way it is engaging with industry, the way it is supporting diversity in the industry and creating concrete programs and initiatives to address the issue.

What’s your take on the women in information security conversation? 

While significant progress has been made, we are still very much on the surface of the issues and we should dig deeper. Achieving change on gender equality is a long-term process that requires recognition on the agendas of the private and public sectors. At the core it is about changing socio-cultural norms that reinforce gender inequality.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

Listening to tropical house music and singing along (loudly) while I’m working.

If you weren’t an infosec professional, what would be your dream job?

I was raised by an art professor and an engineer and I never have enough time to exercise my artistic inclinations.  My dream was always to study at the Actors Studio in New York and become an actress. 

Bio: An entrepreneur with over a decade of international experience in the cybersecurity sector, Elisabetta Zacarria is co-founder and chairman of Secure Chorus, a platform for private-public cooperation on open standards for cybersecurity. She is founder of cyberY, a firm delivering strategy for innovative ecosystems, and former group COO/CSO of Global Strategy Group, where she set the strategy and co-led the company’s explosive growth, turning the start-up into a $600million revenue business in six years.  

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