Interview of the Week - Jo Peterson
During Cybersecurity Awareness Month Security in Color plans to highlight different women in the field of Cybersecurity / Information Security, in an effort to give voice to an underrepresented yet talented and diverse group.
Jo is a 20-year veteran in the technology field with tenure at MCI, Intermedia/Digex Communications, Qwest Communications, now CenturyLink/Savvis in both pre-sales technical and selling roles. She holds an MBA with an E-business concentration and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and is the VP of Cloud Services for Clarify360.
I had the pleasure of. being connected with Jo when I applied for a scholarship with her organization CloudGirls.org. Since then, Jo has been a great mentor to lookup to as she dominates in an aspect of security I am very interested in, Cloud Security. Read more about her below.
Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed for Security In Color. Would you mind doing a brief introduction of yourself or our audience?
I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you, Dominique. I’m Jo Peterson. My job is VP of Cloud and Security for Clarify360, a boutique sourcing and benchmarking consultancy focused on optimizing the IT sourcing experience. As engineering consultants, my team and I partner with organizations to navigate the complex cloud, network, and security landscape. We typically work in the Enterprise space. She and her team have worked with dozens of F1000 clients as they have moved along the cloud maturity continuum.
You are seen as a thought leader in Cloud Technology and IoT - can you answer what you think is the biggest challenge the industry currently faces?
According to HostingTribunal.com, organizations leverage almost 5 different cloud platforms on average and 50% of enterprises spend more than $1.2 million on cloud services annually. Multicloud introduces new challenges for clients because the environment becomes more complex—management is more complex due to siloed cloud vendor tools, governance becomes more complex, and security becomes more complex. A tight labor market and rapidly changing technology, i.e. vendor-specific cloud expertise, can mean that running and maintaining multi-cloud environments can be a challenge.
You co-founded CloudGirls, a non-profit that unites female thought leaders across technologies. Can you speak to your inspiration in creating this organization?
I started working in the data center space in 2001 and there was a logical evolution for me to move into the cloud space in 2009. It was very early. Just like the data center, the cloud space was dominated by men. With any new technology, there is a steep learning curve. I wanted to help create a space where women could come together and learn agnostically—a place that was devoid of vendor-specific spin and marketing. What happened over time is that Cloud Girls became a community. As a community, we started to prioritize things that spoke to us and mattered. A few memorable things that we’ve done along the way is to create 2 annual giving events where we generate funds to help other women. Four years ago, we created an annual award that honors a Trail Blazer in the space as well as a Rising Star in the space. As I reflect on our journey, it feels rewarding to have this community of strong, smart women in the cloud space that I can call friends. We’re not changing the world. We’re just trying to make our little piece of it a better place.
What advice would you give women looking to advance their career in Information Security?
There are so many opportunities! According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021. Find an area of interest and then find a mentor or two in the space. If you don’t have a social profile on Twitter, get one! You can tap into a community of people in the space from all over the world. There are a growing number of women in the cybersecurity space who participate actively at Twitter. It’s a great way to meet other professionals, build your network, share ideas and just learn!
Security in Color’s name was chosen for two reasons - to change the narrative of Information Security being seen as boring, black and white so to speak, as well as wanting to increase diversity in the field. How do you think the industry can change this narrative and increase the visibility of diversity?
Kudos to you Dominique. My feeling is that important change happens at the grassroots level with initiatives like yours. Conversations like this create momentum and energy. It’s that momentum and energy that creates a collective shift. That is how the change happens.
How can people find you and be more involved with your CloudGirls initiative?
Thank you for asking. People can visit cloudgirls.org to learn more about us.
Want to be featured on our site, or know of someone who deserves to be heard? Submit your interview nominations at SecinColor@gmail.com