Meet Dr Kiri Addison, Threat Detection and Efficacy Product Manager, Mimecast

Kiri Addison

Dr Kiri Addison is 34 and is based in Cambridgeshire. Kiri Addison is Threat Detection and Efficacy Product Manager at Mimecast. Kiri previously worked in the public sector where she was responsible for creating systems to detect and prevent cyber-attacks and fraud. Her academic background includes a PhD in Physical Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Physics & Astrophysics.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am Dr Kiri Addison and I am a Threat Detection and Efficacy Product Manager at cybersecurity specialist company, Mimecast. I work closely with engineers, threat researchers and data scientists on Mimecast’s security products to adapt them to defend against the new and evolving threats. Previously, I was Head of Data Science for Threat Intelligence and one of my current areas of focus in my role as a product manager is to find and develop innovative products that utilise AI/ML. Prior to joining Mimecast, I worked in the government sector where I was responsible for creating systems to detect and prevent cyber attacks and fraud.

I studied Physics & Astrophysics at Sheffield University and then went on to complete a PhD in Physical Chemistry at the University of East Anglia. After that I got my first job working for the UK government and took a break from studying for a few years. I recently completed an MBA.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I didn’t know that I was going to work in cyber, I just followed the subjects that I enjoyed at school which was a combination of maths, science and electronics. I always had a love for computers and technology from a young age and started to build my own PCs when I was younger, so these subjects made a lot of sense for me.

It set me up well for university where I went on to study Physics and Astrophysics, followed by a PhD in Physical Chemistry where I did a lot of programming and Machine Learning. I knew that I didn’t want to stay in academia, so I started looking for a job in the technology industry and found myself drawn to fraud and cybersecurity related jobs.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I used to have a huge fear of public speaking which is quite a common phobia, I think! I realised that to progress in my sector, I would have to stand up and present my work to people so I took a lot of presentation courses and took opportunities to practice. I was lucky enough to meet an executive coach who helped me to transform my presentations, speak with confidence and keep my audience engaged when delivering my talks. Now, I talk at large conferences and it is one of the parts of my job that I really enjoy (albeit, most of it is via Zoom now).

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I love building products that work well and that people enjoy using. One of the best parts about my job is that I get to help people. In fact, one of the fraud detection products I built identified people traffickers who were making money by exploiting vulnerable people. Just knowing that you are making a positive difference and helping people is extremely rewarding.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 


What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

A major factor has been taking each opportunity that has been presented to me, even when they put me outside of my comfort zone. These have been great in helping me to develop my knowledge, skills and career as well as helping me to discover new options that I would never have considered or did not know existed before.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

For anyone trying to excel in the technology sector, it is important that you understand the strategic direction of the organisations that you work for and I would also advise that you seek out opportunities to work on problems that will have or continue to have a big impact, such as cybersecurity. Another tip is to find ways to measure the impact of your work so that you can demonstrate value.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I do believe that the representation of women in cybersecurity in particular is still quite limited. I think that the problem starts much earlier for women working in the technology sector – it starts at home and in school where these gender stereotypes are enforced. Women are discouraged from a young age to purse a path that could lead to a career in the tech industry. To overcome these barriers, we have first have to tackle unconscious gender bias and focus on better education and diversity from the start.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Companies should tackle unconscious bias at work by creating an open space for employees to discuss these issues and implementing training sessions to raise awareness. Making sure that their recruitment process is fair and balanced is another way that companies can support women in the sector. And lastly, ensuring that there is better representation at the highest levels of management is crucial for women starting out in the world of technology so they can have role models and experienced female mentors.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry? 

I would remove the gender stereotypes that children are often exposed to make sure that young girls are equally encouraged to explore STEM subjects at school and at home.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The Mimecast Phishy Business podcast has some excellent guests speaking on a huge variety of tech topics including catfishing and identity theft, phishing emails and digital forensics. Another great resource is Datacamp which offers online interactive training for coding, data analysis and data science.