Get ready to be inspired! In this feature, Rabab Zehra, TECHx’s Executive Editor, chats with Haifa Ketiti, Senior Systems Engineer from the Middle East at Proofpoint. Dive into the world of Women in Tech as Haifa shares her stories, insights, and tech-savvy wisdom. Don’t miss this engaging conversation highlighting the incredible contributions of women in the tech scene!
TECHx: Can you share a bit about your background and how you became interested in the tech industry?
I’ve always been interested in technology and particularly in cybersecurity. IT security is all around us and is increasingly present in everyone’s lives, from consumers to large enterprises. Helping individuals and organisations fight the cyber criminals is something I’m extremely passionate about.
I chose telecommunications as a major at university and knew during my studies that I wanted to become a cybersecurity professional. I started my career as a support engineer, then quickly moved to pre-sales roles working for both cybersecurity vendors as well as resellers.
In terms of career development, cybersecurity presents a lot of opportunities for growth and ongoing development, as cybercrime is going to be around for a long time. It’s a fast-paced, exciting industry, where no two days are the same, which keeps me on my toes. Being able to say my day-to-day work helps keep people safe and secure while using their devices is a great motivator to continue on this path!
TECHx: Diversity and inclusion are important topics in tech. How do you think the industry has evolved in terms of gender diversity, and what more needs to be done?
While cybersecurity is one of the most fast-paced, rapidly evolving modern industries, this evolution has been slower when we look at the number of women taking up careers in cybersecurity. With that, I believe that women can be very skilled cyber professionals. At Proofpoint, I have been fortunate to work within an organization that empowers strong female role models and have a platform where I am encouraged and bolstered to grow my skillset. I have been able to find my voice and build confidence without being intimidated by any diversity issues that the industry has previously faced.
Improving diversity in the cybersecurity industry by hiring people from different backgrounds not only helps better reflect the population and create a culture of inclusivity at the workplace, but it can also bring different ways of thinking and different skills to the table. Diversity could also help improve online defenses because it will enable information security teams to think about – and defend against – concepts and attack techniques they may not have considered before. The more we include new and varied viewpoints, evolved from different backgrounds and expertise, the better-informed our industry becomes, and the better equipped we are to innovate as a business and respond to the evolving threat landscape.
TECHx: Can you share a particularly memorable success story or project that you’re proud of in your tech career?
With an ever-expanding scope, cybersecurity presents the ultimate growth potential both in terms of career path and for learning opportunities. I’ve had multiple enriching experiences throughout my career but one the my favorites is taking part in the Proofpoint Protect event which is an opportunity for Proofpoint’s valued customers gather and learn together. It’s an annual security summit for customers, partners and guests. Presented online (but face-to-face again this year!), we share our strategies, knowledge and the latest intel on cybersecurity. I’ve also had the opportunity to present at many industry events in the region.
TECHx: What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in technology?
My advice to young women who want to pursue a career in IT is to find their voice and confidence and go for it, without being intimidated by any diversity issues that the industry has previously faced.
Focus in on your target and continue to work on enhancing your skills, building your self-confidence, and pursuing your goals. Women can be and very much are cyber professionals.
Constantly build your knowledge and network by attending workshops, technical sessions, networking events and industry shows – network with not only influential women in the industry, but men too.
TECHx: The tech industry is known for its rapid evolution. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies?
Cybersecurity is a field where learning never stops. staying up-to-date in the technology industry requires a multifaceted approach that combines continuous learning, networking, engagement with communities, and a proactive stance toward emerging threats and technologies. By embracing these strategies, I aim to ensure that my organization’s cybersecurity posture remains resilient in the face of evolving challenges.
TECHx: Outside of your tech-related work, what are some of your hobbies or interests? How do you find a balance between your professional and personal life?
For me, balancing between professional and personal life is critical to achieve an increased sense of accomplishment and to maintain a successful career and a healthy lifestyle. To maintain this balance, I focus on prioritizing and planning and spend my free time doing what I love. I love traveling and exploring new places, this helps me get out of my comfort zone and learn about new people and cultures. I also love cooking especially when gathering with friends and loved ones.