Career Notes 7.11.21
Ep 57 | 7.11.21

Taree Reardon: A voice for women in cyber. [Threat Analyst]


Taree Reardon: My name is Taree Reardon. I'm a Senior Threat Analyst and Shift Lead on the VMware Carbon Black Managed Detection Team.

Taree Reardon: I was always fascinated with hacking. I am a big gamer and  I've always been interested in things like forensics. Um, that's one of the reasons why I was interested in getting a degree in biology with a focus on genetics. Looking at cybersecurity, I was noticing some parallels with forensics on both a biological level and then also on a digital level so that was something that really drew me in as well.

Taree Reardon: I started with my degree in information technology . When I got into the courses, I was really challenged by some of it, um, and was thinking that potentially I hadn't made the correct choice in terms of a career path. And then I was able to take my first cybersecurity class and I realized how excited I was and passionate I was about the learning material. I started diving in more and thinking, well, maybe this could be the right path for me. 

Taree Reardon: I had a couple of female teachers who I was really excited to see in those roles. Representation is something that is really important so it helped me to understand that yes, there are women in the industry, but really the majority of my classmates were all male. So that was certainly a challenge to try and figure it out how to maintain my femininity in a male- dominated world. And that's definitely something that I still struggle with to this day, but is wonderful because I have this support here at VMware Carbon Black to really explore what I want to do, and also be a voice for women in the industry.

Taree Reardon: After completing my degree, I was targeting companies that I felt were really focused on diversity and inclusion, and Carbon Black had something called the Cigar Room at the time, which was a place for women to get together and talk. Also they had a women's mentorship program and so when I joined the team, I was able to  get a mentor . Um, her name's Erica, she is brilliant and fantastic. That helped me to feel really, really supported as I was coming into the role. I was lucky enough to be on a team that had 50% women. That's unheard of and I think it made a really big difference because we were able to come together and from the very beginning, have our space be a space that was safe for women. And when I was learning everything in the role, it's kind of like drinking from a fire hose. Having people that I knew I could go to and say, hey, I'm having a little bit of imposter syndrome here.  I have other friends in the industry who haven't had the same experiences.  

Taree Reardon: Day-to-day in security is really up in the air. Every day is different and it's really exciting. It can also be really stressful. Obviously, if there's an active security incident, that is something that we immediately jump on and help to stop any active threats. And then I also focus a lot on security efficacy initiatives, making sure that as we're seeing attack trends change, that we're on the of ball with keeping up with detections and blocking of that, those types of tactics. 

Taree Reardon: And finally, mentorship, so anyone who's on our team and even, um, some folks that are just in the industry and not on our team, I'm always really happy to discuss what goals people have and then how to achieve those goals and provide background and training from my perspective, to help elevate their skill level as well.

Taree Reardon: My leadership style is supportive. I want to make sure that you have the space to be successful. This industry is huge. There's a lot of variation in the different types of things that you can do on the different career paths. And just trying to navigate that. Um, it's difficult, but it's really rewarding.

Taree Reardon: The advice that I would give myself would probably be to just trust myself. It's really easy to come into a situation where I haven't been in a technical role before and just second guess. I would say challenge yourself to realize that maybe you are a subject matter expert. There's not a whole lot of people in this world that can do what you do. Understanding that the average person on the street probably has a password somewhere that's password123 versus what you do to try and help stop criminals in the industry is pretty huge. So, um, trust yourself, believe in yourself and fight for yourself.

Taree Reardon: I think if you're looking to get into this industry, it's important to understand that it's not just an easy, quick paycheck. Really it's a lifestyle. You need to be passionate about it, or you're going to burn out pretty quickly.  Find a mentor, and don't give up. I think breaking into the industry is exceptionally hard, harder than it should be. Do as much as you can to learn as much as you can. And highlight it, speak up about your talents. Don't be quiet about it.