Blogs & Opinions 29.09.2023

The Lowdown on Our Grab the Mic: Women in Cyber Event

Over 200 people (and one pigeon) attended our inaugural event. Here’s what happened.

Audience-led ‘how to land your dream job in cyber’ panel featuring (from left to right) Shelley Langan-Newton, Palvi Sharma, Anne Woodlet, Sunaina Aytan, Natasha Harley

On Tuesday 26 September, Assured Intelligence ran its inaugural event (Grab the Mic: Women in Cyber) and in the three days since, I’ve been completely lost for words (a rarity given I make a living from finding the right words). I’ll probably make up for lost time now, so buckle up…!

Three days ago, I stood on stage to open my #GrabTheMic Women in Cyber event and looked out to an audience of more than 200 attendees in disbelief, relief and pride.

It was the sixth women in cyber event I’ve run, but it was the first in my new role.

The other five events were backed by a FTSE company and had an enormous database of magazine readers as an invite list. This one was different: this one was all on me. I had a vision, I had a passion, but I didn’t have a single record of data. Just my network and an unwavering desire to create something that really mattered.

During the welcome, as I thanked Assured for NOT clipping my wings, a pigeon (that I’ve since been told had sauntered around the perimeter of the audience before perching on the stage, seemingly biding its time) literally took flight over the stage (and my head) as if he/she was indulging in some sort of falconry show display. The poetic timing was hilarious, magical, and the ice-breaker I needed to relax into the event!

Just a couple of things that came out of the event that I would love to share quickly.

  • There was abundant engagement, meaningful connections formed, and job opportunities opened and offered. That 150 minutes of #GrabTheMic is just the catalyst for continued progression, opportunity and community.
  • This was, by far, the best male turn-out I’ve ever witnessed at any of my gender diversity events – or anyone’s, for that matter. Around 20% of the audience were male. It was heart-warming to see. Change is happening!
  • Speaking about mistakes is just as powerful, if not more so, than talking about successes.
  • You don’t have to talk about cybersecurity to inspire those in cybersecurity, as Lisa Forte demonstrated perfectly.
  • And finally, one of my panellists gave fantastic advice to ‘find your tribe’ in cybersecurity. I’d add to that with ‘find your tribe and continually add to it’. Never close that circle; there’s strength in numbers (as #GrabTheMic demonstrated), and your most meaningful relationships might just be yet to come.
Lisa Forte delivered an inspirational Ted-esque Talk!

I have so many thank yous. First and foremost, to every single person who came to the event – from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for showing me that my content and my mission to make the cybersecurity industry a better place for EVERYONE to work in is enough and that I don’t need the database and the FTSE backing to make a difference. I’ve not seen an audience as engaged, as honest, and as willing to be vulnerable as this one. You grabbed the mic in every single way. Big love!!

Sodexo’s Steve Moran and Sarah Barclay took the stage to talk about the challenges and advantages of mixed gender teams in cyber

Thank you to my incredible speakers. You took a chance on me, and my launch event, and you totally knocked it out of the park. I am in awe of every single one of you.

To International Cyber Expo (ICE), thank you for giving #GrabTheMic a home and giving me complete autonomy over the event. When ICE event director Rachael Shattock insisted on a theatre three times bigger than all of the event’s other theatres, I thought she was crackers. But she was right! ICE has a wonderful community feel, and I love that! I’m honoured that they trusted me to add to that community.

Thank you to our sponsor Exabeam and our partners WiCyS, Plexal, SheCanCode and Women in Tech Forum. Your support matters!

A big shout out to my teammate, Alex Kearney. You helped me bring the gorgeous #GrabTheMic brand to fruition. Thanks for keeping me calm(ish) and always chuckling in the advent of #GrabTheMic.

I’ve reserved my final thank you for my tribe. And for the friendly and familiar faces who supported me on Tuesday. It means the world. And with that, it’s time to drop the mic. Until next time…

If you’d like to be invited to future Grab the Mic events, drop me a DM on LinkedIn and we’ll add you to the community.




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