As part of Cyber Scotland Week 2021, We recently interviewed Leanne Green, Security Engineer, who’s based in Glasgow. Leanne has been part of Proact’s Security Operations Centre (SOC) for over three years. So, we wanted to get to know her better.

Leanne discusses her current role, personal IT journey and experience. With International Women’s Day coming up, we wanted to delve deeper into her perspective of working in the IT industry, particularly security.

Tell us about your role at Proact

I started as a graduate analyst three years ago, working up the ladder to the role of Security Engineer around 18 months ago.  

My main responsibilities are the onboarding, configuration and support of new external and internal customers to our security platforms; maintaining and upgrading the software solutions we use; creation of new alerts relating to threats or use cases; change reviews, organising penetration testing and a lot of other challenges that come my way on a daily basis.  

I still have a hand in normal operations and assisting the analysts with escalations and advice when the shift leads are not available.  

What do you enjoy most about working at Proact? And in the SOC team? 

Proact is a fantastic place to work. I enjoy working closely with our customers and many different technical teams across Europe when implementing and expanding our services. I have many opportunities to be involved in multiple projects across the company. Although it means I am always very busy, I am never bored and my work is very varied and interesting.  

Our security team family are very close. We work together tightly, and are always in communication with each other throughout the day even though we have different roles. I think this is essential in security, to ensure nothing is missed and everyone is always aware of any ongoing incidents and to escalate opportunities are always available. This has proven to be even more important over the last year, while everyone has been working from home and there isn’t the usual “across the desk” chat. 

Security is an area where women are highly unrepresented, what initially got you interested in this area? 

Having worked in a different IT role in the banking industry for a number of years, I was always interested in the security aspect. When I decided to change my focus and retrain as a mature student, it was natural for me to immediately veer towards security. Security was also becoming one of the most prominent areas in IT.  I knew it would be an exciting and constantly evolving sector to be involved in. 

What subjects during your educational years were you particularly interested in, that led you to your current career path? 

I was mostly interested in not being at school. Back then the opportunities in IT classes were virtually non-existent. I think the closest I got to a computer was a word processor, when they taught typing and office administration – such a cliché. 

I was very interested in physics and chemistry, but didn’t follow any path. The learning opportunities that are available at school now are amazing. I would certainly have embraced everything I could have back then, had I the chance. 

How did you find the cyber security course at Glasgow Caledonian? Did it help prepare you for your future career? 

The course was very interesting and engaging. I enjoyed and felt I got the most out of the hands-on lab environments, particularly the penetration testing and ethical hacking course. This gave me a good insight to the other side of cyber security – the trying to breach rather than protect aspect. I’ve definitely used the knowledge gained there in my role at Proact.

GCU now have the SOC lab set up. Anyone studying the course will have a brilliant view into the real-life of an analyst – a great stepping stone into a career.  

Do you think there’s a stereotype attached to female engineers? 

I think that perhaps in other engineering areas, such as mechanical roles, there definitely can be a stigma: it’s dirty and you’re a female, you can’t do it.  

Have you had to face or overcome any challenges working in an industry where there can be a stigma attached to females?  

I personally have never felt undervalued or misrepresented as a female in any of my roles in IT. The one thing I would mention is that sometimes people forget and will address communications to the team using male gender specific terms, such as ‘Hi Gents’.   

What advice would you give to young girls who are passionate and aspire to start and build a career within the IT security industry? 

I would say to both young and old to absolutely go for it! It’s never too early or too late to build a career. The main thing is to start learning – this is an industry that you never stop learning and studying as things change so quickly. Be it a university degree, vendor qualifications, online forums or messing about in home lab environments. 

Never feel that because you are socially defined as being female there are jobs you can’t do. You can do absolutely anything, and I would be delighted to see many more girls join the industry.