On International Women’s Day, Jessie Bond, CC, shares her story that will #InspireInclusion, how she found herself in the cybersecurity world and the role that professional development played in defining a career path and helping her find her voice in the workplace.

Jessie Bond, CCFor a decade I’ve been privileged to lead and serve on large projects and initiatives at nonprofits, small businesses, local municipalities, financial institutions, healthcare, and manufacturing enterprises. Each of these industries has exposed me to different types of software and solutions, always invigorating my curiosity in wanting to understand “how it all works”.

That desire to understand is, really, how I found cybersecurity. It almost feels like I stumbled upon it. I’d hear a technical term mentioned by a team member in a project meeting, leave the meeting and immediately look that term up online. What would start as a simple search on Google would then lead me down an exciting rabbit hole into learning about much larger knowledge areas within cybersecurity. For years, I was on an ad hoc learning journey of researching topics, buying books, and talking to team members about different cybersecurity concepts.

Finding CC Changed my Learning Outlook

Even though I could have continued that journey and found success (I strongly believe there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to learning), I decided it was important to have some form of industry credibility to back up my learning investments. It was such a gift when I came across ISC2 and the One Million Certified in Cybersecurity initiative.

I couldn’t believe ISC2, an organization that has such credibility and respect in the industry, was offering a self-paced, online course and exam voucher for free. It was the exact opportunity I needed to convince myself to finally leap into a more formal learning environment.

In my experience, the online course that ISC2 provides for the Certified in Cybersecurity (CC) exam is very approachable to someone like me who didn’t study computer science or cybersecurity in school. The training adopts a feel-good tone of voice that explains and breaks down technical concepts well, while still respecting you as a professional who already has expertise.

The exam, too, was a very positive experience for me. Since industry credibility was one of my personal goals, I appreciated that the exam was proctored similar to when I earned my Project Management Professional certification.

Something unexpected that I didn’t know when I applied to become an ISC2 candidate and CC was that I’d feel a sense of purpose like I was a part of something much larger and more meaningful. The message that I received throughout the certification experience was that “cybersecurity is a growing field that not only wants but needs someone like me” a woman who doesn’t hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science.

Finding My Voice

As a project manager, my role is about being unafraid to speak up as a leader in a room full of talented subject matter experts. For me, it’s been essential to find my voice and to speak the language of my team members. And that is what earning the CC certification has given me. I feel more confident to speak the technical language of my colleagues. I also feel a greater sense of self-empowerment like I belong in the room and my voice matters.

After earning the certification from ISC2, I pivoted my project management career to specialize in cybersecurity projects and initiatives. I continue to indulge my curiosity to understand all the different domains within cybersecurity, and I’m excited to continue to grow within this field. I don’t know what title I might hold 5-10 years from now, but I’m excited for the journey wherever it takes me, and I know that passing the CC exam will be one of those pivotal moments in my career.