Theresa Jurisch
Security Architect at Merrill Corporation

What does a Security Architect do?

It’s about understanding where you are at with security posture and trying to figure out how to put the pieces in place to continue to improve upon security at the company.  This is challenging because right now security still is not common sense. It’s often an afterthought. We help people and companies develop security hygiene – the stuff people need to do every day because it’s good common security sense. The security elements are the same, but the implementations from company to company can differ greatly depending on need and maturity.

How does a Security Architecture make a difference in the world?

This is way more than identity theft. It’s protecting the company, their brand, data and other assets as well as the people. An attacker can attack your company or your website. They can modify your website. With some much in the cloud…you have to make it secure. People think that the cloud is safe when used for business by default. It’s just a different place to store your data. You still have to secure your data no matter where it is. This affects everyone from the largest corporations to your local dentist who has a server in her office.

Every company in every industry needs to secure data.

You have to document your sources of vulnerabilities and prioritize the risk of each. Remember a few years ago when Target has that data breach? The breach came through its HVAC system because it was connected to the network and other data systems.

What are the typical employers and/or industries that need Security Architects?

This is a role that’s needed everywhere.

Educational Qualifications – What do you typically need to enter and/or be successful in this career?

A computer science degree is a basic qualification. There are handfuls of security certifications that can make you more valuable. CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) is most sought after.

What do you think youth should do to prepare for a career like this?

Toastmasters is amazing and turned my career around. I did this for 10 years. Get comfortable with public speaking. It’s huge to use to promote yourself in your career.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s ok that you don’t know everything. You have to know when to say, “I don’t know the answer, let me do some research.”

Here’s your assignment. You have to do something that you know nothing about. Now you have to go out and find out about it.

Things are always changing. There’s so many security domains and challenges, it’s difficult to stay on top of progress. It can be overwhelming but don’t let it overwhelm you.

Technology and security: We need more women and girls who are ready and willing to do the work in technology and security. You don’t need to be the best of the best. Get better to be at your best by challenging yourself.

Learn how to interrupt. Women tend not to do it naturally; men do. Be confident at interjection and taking control of the conversation. It’s essential.

Please share any personal reflection on this career.

You have to be one of the guys, yet be yourself. Let some things roll off your back. Learn to navigate the system that’s dominated by men. Get rid of minimizing words. Don’t use “Just” in your vocabulary. Say what you mean. Communicate directly and coherently.