Esther Schagen-van Luit and her team make the world a littel safer. She studied economics and management, but later found her passion in cybersecurity and the Deloitte Cyber Risk Services team. From October 1 Esther can call herself Specialist Master and with that a long-awaited dream comes true. In this role she will have the opportunity to combine customer work with her expertise in security architecture and her ambition to gain more girls and women in cybersecurity.
From the outside it isn’t clear to the world how wide the field of cybersecurity is. In the newspaper we read that the Russians and Chinese are after us, nothing is safe on the internet and big companies are being hacked. If you ask who is working within cybersecurity, you end up with the standard image of a hacker in a black hoodie in an attic room. Not everyone satisfies or identifies themselves with that image, and therefore wrongly discards cybersecurity as a work area. We distinguish ourselves at Deloitte because we offer more than just hacking in our services - we not only break in, we also clean up, repair the gap through which we have entered and ensure that no one else can enter. We thereby not only look at technology, but also at people and processes that have to do with that technology and the sensitive information. That means that we need people with different backgrounds to be able to deliver that diverse range of services. We no longer get our talent from just the IT courses.
I feel like a superhero within cybersecurity. Some companies manage so much information and if something goes wrong, it has a major impact on the whole society. That information must be protected, sometimes directly for the consumer and sometimes only for the company. We offer that protection; that makes our work important and that is why I feel good every day when I go to our office or my client. It is also a rapidly changing industry and I have to keep learning - luckily I and my colleagues love a challenge!
I am specialized in Security Architecture. We design and implement all of the solutions that ensure that certain information is kept secure. We first look at the strategy for this. Why does an organization exist and what does it do? What is there to protect and who would attack that? We then devise security measures to limit the risks. Normally this happens at different places in the organization, but with security architecture we ensure that the whole of measures fits the organization and its risks. As a result, you do not do things twice, too little or too much, and there are guidelines for how to handle new developments from a security perspective.
Leading Lady in Cyber
In 2014 I won a ticket for hacking conference Hack in the Box via a writing competition and that is when I discovered the world of cybersecurity. At that time I was working as a strategy consultant at another company. That year they had asked 8 female speakers from the cybersecurity field to provide the plenary sessions. When asked how many women were present in the 500-man room, three hands went up, including mine. At that moment I changed my mind and thought - I also want to become such a role model in cybersecurity and inspire other women to work in this industry too.
My goal? To become a leading lady in cybersecurity. Why leading lady? A leading lady is first and foremost someone who excels in her field, her specialization. I want to be such a person, known for my knowledge of the field. In addition, I associate the term with a first lady who is concerned with making social impact. I want to do that too, I want to get girls and women enthusiastic about it. For example, I speak at schools, boot camps and conferences about cybersecurity, new technologies or diversity in technology. We try to get girls excited about the subject as early as possible and let them think about how we can prepare the next generation of people for this job.”
Esther’s commitment and work is seen. She is nominated / winner of the Cybersecurity Awards, Techionista Award, VIVA400 list and Change in Business award. In addition, she has been chosen to participate in this year on behalf of Deloitte Netherlands in One Young World. This is an international event where young leaders from all over the world come together and to make an impact on the world.
© Liesbeth Dingemans
The diversity of the Cyber Security team
“We work with very bright people whom you can constantly learn from. The team is growing fast and both Deloitte and the industry offer dynamic working environments. Our team firmly believes in any type of talent. We look beyond your specific study, we look at where your passion lies. Do you want to learn? Are you willing to dive into the deep end because your heart is in this profession? Then you will definitely fit in with the team, no matter what background you have. We employ people with training in computer science, security and management, but also physics, art history, music and psychology - they all make a unique contribution to our team.
Although there are now more women working in cybersecurity, it is not yet a natural career choice, particularly in the Netherlands. At school you have to choose a direction early on and most girls don't choose technology. It is then difficult to follow a technical study later. And to be honest, that's okay - our industry is moving so fast that much of that study knowledge is outdated by the time students enter the job market. I can therefore recommend to anyone who has not learned about it at school, men and women, self-study online. There is now so much material available through courses, MOOCs and books (even free) to gain the required knowledge. Get some certificates and show that you have the skills and passion to convince that employer that you are ready for a career in cybersecurity. ”
Want to know more about how Cyber Security is changing our lives? Then listen to the first season of Cases: the new podcast series from Deloitte and Dag en Nacht media. Each episode focuses on a concrete example, a true cyber case.
Esther Schagen - van Luit
Esther is a Specialist Master in Security Architecture at Deloitte Netherlands’ Cyber Risk Services team. Her ambition is to be a Leading Lady In Cyber, who is the best in her craft (security architecture) and makes societal impact as a role model through making girls & women feel they (could) belong in world of cybersecurity. She has a broad interest in technologies, with a focus on cloud security and artificial intelligence for cybersecurity. For her work around getting more ladies into Cyber Esther has been awarded prices and nominations such as the Cybersecurity Award, Techionista Award, VIVA400, Change in Business Award. She is also a Director on the Board of Trustees of the The SABSA Institute and a One Young World Ambassador. Esther is an avid public speaker so you can meet her at many conferences and events.