Catherine Gulsvig Wood

Technology Product & Offering Development Associate Director

St. Paul, Minnesota

"A big part of my role is explaining the ‘public cloud’ and how to use it, and the many ways in which users can fall into security holes."

How I put change in motion

I work as a Technology Product & Offering Development Associate Director responsible for cloud security within a team called Offering Development. I create products and services that we offer to clients concerned about security when using cloud.

A big part of my role is explaining the “public cloud” (cloud services offered by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google) and how to use it, and the many ways in which users can fall into security holes. Then I organize everything we do to help users avoid these traps into distinct “offerings” (or products) that clients can purchase. My aim is to avoid getting bogged down in technical detail, and instead present the business challenges and risks working in the cloud and how Accenture can help mitigate them.

In my previous, related role (on the Accenture Cloud Platform project), we had a global team with people clustered in India, the U.K., the U.S. and Mexico. The cultural differences were vast. But we managed to organize ourselves into an efficient team by focusing on what we had in common, and I think the application was more richly textured as a result.

Learn more about Cybersecurity Careers.

A day in my life

Every day is different, of course, but there are inevitably meetings about the following topics:

  • How to approach a particular client’s request for cloud security.
  • How to solve a staffing challenge (we’re always recruiting new people into the practice and training them to deliver our services).
  • Determining new offerings on the product roadmap and how quickly they’ll be available.
  • Addressing the challenges of building and testing security solutions within a tightly controlled environment.

The time between meetings is the most valuable, because that’s when I design new ways of talking about cloud security that make sense to nontechnical people, as well as designing new products and approaches.

“Coming from a completely different background is actually an advantage in security, as far as I’m concerned. ”

My advice

I majored in music and am a classically trained pianist and self-taught programmer. I figure that any company that would employ me for this long (seven years—a record for me, yet nothing compared to the many people who’ve been here for 20+ years!) is clearly able to support people in key technical roles even though they may not have a traditional STEM background.

I’m actively working on a curriculum for bringing people into security from “outside.” Coming from a completely different background is actually an advantage, as far as I’m concerned. The problem is that sometimes, good candidates are turning themselves away, thinking they need more qualifications. You have to believe that you can understand something if it’s properly explained to you, and that there’s no stigma attached to saying, “I don’t understand that term or acronym; can you explain it?”

To succeed in a security career, the real skills you need are creativity, excellent verbal and written communication, some direct experience with cybersecurity, no matter how small or trivial it may seem and—most importantly—the willingness to learn.

Blog posts
Butterflies, music and cybersecurity

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