Interview Vlada Kulish 

Women in IT: Security Engineer 

Less than 15% of people working in IT in the Netherlands is female. The number of women in the Netherlands that are doing an IT course is also low, especially compared to the European average. But they are there. AG Connect introduces these top tech women. This week: Northwaver Vlada Kulish.  

What is your role?

I work as a Security Engineer in the Northwave Red Team. I conduct different types of penetration tests and vulnerability assessments so we can identify our client’s vulnerabilities.

How did you end up in this role?

It all started during my studies at the University of Ukraine. I was studying Computer Science and wanted to earn some money. Therefore, I started working as a freelance developer. Even though the work was interesting, I came to the realization that I didn’t want to continue in this field. Later I coincidently took my first steps in the security field, even though I didn’t know much about it yet. That made it extra interesting. I wanted to know exactly how it works, that’s how I go about things, so I did a deep dive into the topic.

A few years later I decided to take up a new adventure. One of my friends worked as a recruiter within the cyber security field and showed me a vacancy at Northwave. After getting in touch with Northwave’s recruiter and my future manager, it was quickly arranged. Eventually I came to the Netherlands and did a technical test at Northwave. After this I could start pretty soon.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The environment! I love to learn. Within my role at Northwave I have a lot of opportunities to learn new things. Each project is unique and I learn something new every day. The best thing is that people around me believe in me, even though I sometimes forget to do so myself.

Being a woman, how do you experience working in the ICT world, it being ‘a man’s world’?
That’s a difficult question. I think women can feel as though it’s a man’s world. That mathematics, programming and security are difficult, or that they’ll never be as good as men. But that’s not true! The mentality with which women view ICT is most defining. It’s like any other field you can work in.

What is your view on how we can ensure more women choose for a career in tech?

I think the family you grow up in plays a big role. My parents have never said what I should do or what I should study. They let me make my own choices. That’s why I chose what I enjoyed most. It was really nice they always supported me in the decisions I made. I think it’s important that families and society don’t limit girls. Actually, there shouldn’t be gender related barriers within fields or work or areas of education. I don’t think it’s exceptional that I work in IT being a woman.

I also think it’s not right to push women to work in the tech industry. It comes down to women and girls having more confidence in their own abilities and not limiting themselves. Additionally, they shouldn’t be afraid to try and just be themselves.