By Ann Johnson for Women Entrepreneur
If left as is, the world's shortage of qualified cybersecurity workers will grow to 3.5 million in 2021. That's a problem because we live in a heterogeneous, complicated world where digital issues affect our physical realities. A bank server breach could create missed payments for account holders, and as we integrate smart medical devices and IoT home security into our lives, our well-being is increasingly dependent on cybersecurity.
To counter the growing threats, the current cybersecurity talent pipeline needs to expand -- urgently. Mentorship that creates access to STEM opportunities for people living beyond tech hot spots can help reverse the atrophy. Along the way, including people of diverse backgrounds into the cyber ranks brings new points of view to further addressing societal issues.
As someone who has spent 20 years in cybersecurity leadership roles, I'm often asked for mentorship guidance. My approach is similar for mentees and mentors. Start as early as you can, don't let your degree dictate your career path, network extensively tapping physical and digital resources, create the right relationship structure and have "courageous conversations."