A Distinctive Cybersecurity Profession Path: From Journalism to Cisco

Few safety profession paths are linear. For Stephanie Frankel the journey to Cisco Safe was circuitous. The Ann Arbor, Michigan native studied journalism on the College of Michigan earlier than managing communications for the Washington Capitals and NBC Sports activities. However after a number of stints at communications companies, she charted a brand new path for herself in cybersecurity. Not solely has her numerous background served as a energy in her present function as senior supervisor for technique and operations, nevertheless it’s additionally knowledgeable her administration philosophy.

Highway to Cybersecurity

After doing challenge administration and account path at consulting companies, Frankel was involved in honing her expertise and experience on the shopper facet. She had heard superb issues about Duo and wished to remain in Ann Arbor and work for an organization with native roots. After interviewing, Frankel realized that “working at Duo was a cool, thrilling alternative with a extremely superior group of individuals.”

Frankel was on the bottom working working as a technical challenge supervisor in analysis and improvement overseeing the Multi-Issue Authentication, functions and cell engineering groups regardless of not having labored in data safety earlier than.

Duo’s safety training allowed Frankel to grasp the trade and is one thing she values for getting extra folks into the cybersecurity area. At Duo and Cisco Safe, staff come from a wide range of backgrounds and a few don’t have a lot (or any) expertise with cybersecurity.

Sturdy instructional applications construct data about safety and particular merchandise which empower new staff members to develop and study. Each staff additionally has a studying and improvement price range for workers to quench their curiosity and improve their data by way of programs, books or different applications Supervisor of World Worker Applications Anndrea Boris shared.

“Individuals are open to having conversations and open to concepts and methods to unravel these concepts. In case you have an thought of methods to resolve an issue, irrespective of whether or not it’s your job or not, individuals are open and prepared to hearken to you.” – Stephanie Frankel

One thing Frankel additionally appreciates most is that concepts are valued at Duo and Cisco Safe: “Even in my first job, I might have concepts and go to my boss or our head of engineering and say, ‘Hey, I believe this could possibly be a extremely cool alternative, and I believe it wants this.’ Individuals are open to having conversations and open to concepts and methods to unravel these concepts. In case you have an thought of methods to resolve an issue, irrespective of whether or not it’s your job or not, individuals are prepared to hearken to you.”

After a 12 months, Frankel moved from engineering to advertising and marketing to run operations for Duo’s in-house model staff, main the staff by way of a rebrand. “The staff actually rallied behind this new model and it was superb to see their pleasure and arduous work when sharing it,” she mentioned. With Frankel’s management, the staff showcased not solely the brand new appear and feel of the model but in addition the client analysis that went into understanding the necessity for the change.

“Our superb staff knew that for it to catch on internally we wanted to assist folks perceive the why. The staff put collectively a tremendous coaching and went across the firm to assist folks perceive the safety purchaser, the trade general and our differentiators and the way we might do all of this inside the umbrella of Cisco,” she mentioned.

Recognizing that she most enjoys and feels greatest fitted to a strategic operations function, she had open conversations together with her supervisor. “I instructed my boss, ‘It’s simply not an awesome match.’” Her supervisor was very supportive, they usually labored by way of potential choices. “You’ll discover a variety of that at Cisco,” she mentioned.

Now as senior supervisor within the Technique and Operations Group inside Cisco’s Safety and Collaboration division, Frankel runs key initiatives for enterprise operations that drive enterprise development. She is empowered to creatively resolve issues and collaborate “with all of the stakeholders inside every group to maneuver these applications ahead, to grasp the issues we’re trying to resolve, create aims, a program plan, and proceed to trace metrics and progress in the direction of these final targets,” she mentioned.

Rising as a Chief at Cisco

A self-described “over communicator,” Frankel believes that as a frontrunner, “the extra you talk and the extra clear you’re, the higher.” Frankel loves main people who find themselves specialists of their fields and letting them do what they do greatest.

On the model staff, for instance, she trusted her staff’s experience in producing tales, movies and animations to demystify Cisco’s safety merchandise.

“All I wanted to do was give them the target and the targets they usually have been in a position to provide you with the options,” Frankel mentioned.

She fondly remembers the boss at one in all her first jobs out of faculty. In that job Frankel wrote press releases and wished her boss to totally approve the ultimate variations earlier than sending them to the media. As soon as her boss instructed her, “Stephanie, if you happen to preserve giving it again to me, I’ll preserve discovering issues to vary. I belief you to know when it is able to go.” That confidence in her so early in her profession “gave me a lot confidence in myself,” she mentioned.

Frankel emulates his method to administration by recognizing that every worker has totally different wants of their lives, of their careers, and in how they wish to obtain suggestions. From that boss Frankel first realized that for each piece of unfavourable suggestions, you will need to give 4 items of optimistic suggestions for “somebody to really hear it as a result of that’s the way you steadiness issues out in your thoughts.”

Frankel believes suggestions is essential for development. “I don’t see how one can enhance or develop with out it, it doesn’t matter what degree of your profession you’re at. Suggestions shouldn’t be taken as unfavourable, as a lot as it’s a method so that you can enhance,” she mentioned.

Probably the most useful issues Frankel realized in a Cisco class for managers was the significance of asking an individual if they’re in an excellent place to obtain important suggestions. “You won’t be within the mindset to simply accept the suggestions and to do one thing constructive with it,” she mentioned. ”If you happen to’re having a foul day or struggling, you would say, ‘You already know what, I’m not going to have the ability to take it at this time, however let’s discuss tomorrow and I’ll be in a greater place to obtain it.’’’

The Energy of Pivot on a Safety Profession Path

Frankel has spent the final 12 months thriving in a task she by no means anticipated in an trade her faculty coaching in journalism didn’t absolutely put together her for. The key, she says, is holding an open thoughts to new prospects and a willingness to tackle new challenges, even if you happen to don’t really feel 100% prepared.

“A variety of it’s getting actual world expertise and studying your method by way of it and understanding that there’s a variety of alternatives and lots of people which can be prepared to show you,” she mentioned.


To pivot professionally Frankel advises not feeling pigeonholed simply since you studied a specific subject or have been in a sure trade for a very long time. Take what you may from the place you began equivalent to storytelling and communications expertise within the case of journalism for Frankel. Whereas making an attempt one thing new could require taking a distinct degree or sort of job “generally it’s price it as a result of you may have that chance to develop and also you may discover you’re happier some place else,” she mentioned.

When discerning skilled steps Frankel recommends having open and sincere conversations with your self and others equivalent to mentors.

“Cisco has so many mentorship applications and so many individuals which can be educated about a variety of issues,” she mentioned. ”Simply because your present function isn’t an awesome match doesn’t imply that there’s not one other good match inside the company, or it doesn’t imply which you can’t create your personal good match.”

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