by Milinda Rambel Stone
July 18, 2022

I grew up in a small town in North Dakota, and today I am an experienced information security executive. 

How did this happen? Was information security really my lifelong dream? What was my path?

In all honesty, growing up I never realized that information security could be a profession for me, but it has become an industry that I love. I feel fortunate of my career path and regularly reflect on how I got here. 

I’ve also regularly reflected on how I can help others consider and find success in a career in information security, an effort that is foundational to who I am. After all, according to the Pew Research Center, women compose only 25% of the computer-related workforce. Further, women hold only 25% of cybersecurity jobs globally in 2021, making it even more critical to reach women who are in the process of considering their careers.

The most important piece for people to understand is that obtaining a formal education in information security is not a required entry point for a career. What is important is demonstrating a willingness to learn and to build skill. I built my career through curiosity, learning, and establishing my network.

People who are successful in information security are those who leverage their curiosity and are open to learning are critical components. We cannot know all the answers, so being vulnerable and open to learning are critical.

Asking questions is also a critical part of this industry. When I started my career, I had no formal experience in this industry, so I started by asking questions and learning what skills I might need. By nature, people naturally want to help, and I am fortunate to have learned this early on. I was always asking questions of my peers and getting guidance to help me learn more about the information security field. 

Leveraging and building a network is another essential part of an information security career path. I’ve found that building trusted advisors and mentors who can coach and guide you is indispensable.

Minnesota has a significant number of resources available around Information Security including conferences and focused networks. These venues can be tremendously valuable in helping navigate information security.

Helping others and paying it forward is, to me, the last and most important part this career path. Each of us in this industry has a responsibility to pay it forward and help others enter this amazing field.  As we master new skills, we should also pay it forward by teaching others what we have learned.

This is a very exciting time to be in the information security field. There are a significant number of open positions, and each of them is a potential growth area. Helping each other navigate this landscape only helps to strengthen the information security profession.

Milinda is responsible for the enhancement and operational oversight of an enterprise security program for Bremer. She is an executive security leader with extensive experience building and leading security programs teams. Milinda has more than 20 years of experience in creating and managing large-scale information security programs in technology, healthcare, and financial services. Her passion is about leading and mentoring others on the importance of information security.