Inspirational Woman: Lucie Kadlecova, Senior Associate (Strategy and Threat Intelligence), CybExer Technologies

Lucie Kadlecova

Dr. Lucie Kadlecová is an academic expert in international relations and international law in cyber space; she has a particular focus on state sovereignty in cyber space.

She has recently completed her PhD studies at Charles University in Prague, and is a Senior Associate, Strategy and Threat Intelligence at CybExer Technologies. She is an author and co-author of multiple publications (in both academia and practice), has been a university lecturer and has participated as a lecturer in numerous cybersecurity-related conferences.

Previously, Lucie was a visiting researcher on a Fulbright scholarship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. She also worked as a cyber security/policy specialist at the National Cyber Security Centre of the Czech Republic and was a trainee in the Cyber Defence Section of the NATO Headquarters and the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy at the European Commission in Brussels.

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

I work as a Senior Associate (Strategy and Threat Intelligence) at CybExer Technologies, and I also represent the company in the Czech market as I am based in Prague, Czech Republic. CybExer Technologies is an Estonian-founded cyber-security company that is building and developing cyber range technologies. A cyber range is a platform used for the development, delivery and use of interactive IT-environment simulations.

In addition to my job in private sector, I also pursue an academic path. In fall of last year, I obtained a PhD from Charles University in Prague.  I defended my dissertation on state sovereignty in cyber space and at the beginning of 2022, I started to work as a post-doctoral researcher at Peace Research Centre Prague, an interdisciplinary centre of excellence at Charles University. This way, I am fulfilling my long-term goal of bringing practical point of view on cyber security into academia and vice-versa.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, absolutely. I tried many times. But as Woody Allen once said: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Therefore, it is good to have career plans, but we also need to be flexible to handle failure and be ready to face unexpected challenges.

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

Of course, many times and different sorts. I can’t think of one single rule which would apply to various challenges but what I have certainly learned along the way is to be persistent, work hard, balance work life and private life and, perhaps most importantly, say “no” or “enough” when the time comes.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

As a young professional, it was certainly the moment when I was offered a job with CybExer Technologies. CybExer is a top company in the cyber range business and cyber security field in general. That provides me with excellent opportunities to work on unique projects which combine all my previous experiences from academia, national government and international organizations. One example for all – I have the pleasure of coordinating the EU MilCERT Interoperability Conference in 2022. It is organized by European Defence Agency for military Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), and it is the first event of its kind.

In terms of my academic career, besides obtaining my PhD, I consider working as a Fulbright scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at Cambridge, USA as my greatest achievement.

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

It is certainly the fact that I try to learn from my mistakes while not being turned down by my failures and keep going.

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

Most importantly, do not be discouraged by prejudices that “a career in technology is not for you”. It’s nonsense! Then, research the opportunities and options you have and pick the most suitable for you and your interests. You do not need to do it all at once, so just focus on what is truly beneficial for you and your goals. And if you are lost and don’t know where to start or how to pursue those goals, do not hesitate to ask for advice from someone more experienced.

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

Yes, there are still barriers and, unfortunately, it won’t be easy to overcome them. I believe there are two key issues which, if addressed, can improve the situation significantly. Firstly, there is this general misconception that cyber security and IT in general are “male fields”. However, there is no objective reason to believe that men must necessarily excel over women in the industry. Cyber security and IT are all about wit, problem-solving, precision and more, not about muscle mass. Hence, one key thing we must do is to challenge this societal paradigm of gender and realize that the IT industry is all about your skills and personal attitude, not about gender.

Secondly, more emphasis should be put on the education of girls and women in cyber security and IT throughout different levels of the education system. As early as elementary schools, girls can get familiarized with coding so that they perceive it in the same way as any other subject. At minimum, this broadens their scope of choice when it comes to the subjects that facilitate their choice of career path later. Similarly, more emphasis should be put on the education of women who wish to change their career, for example, through requalification courses.

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

I can see two things which companies can do straight away. Firstly, they should perceive women in the cyber industry as equals to men. This goes hand in hand with treating them equally and providing them with the same conditions and equal opportunities to be hired or promoted despite their age or family conditions. Secondly, in long term, companies would benefit from cooperation with schools and universities, helping and investing into the IT and cyber education of girls and women who can join the industry later on.

There are currently only 17 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 use it to make the industry realize the benefits of more diverse teams in cyber security. By hiring more women and so diversifying their teams in terms of gender, the employers get a more creative and productive team which combines different approaches, ultimately leading to better and more complex solutions. It is scientifically proven that women can excel over men in certain areas of human behaviour such as problem-solving, cooperativeness or negotiation. Hence, more gender balanced cyber and IT teams can improve team management, decision-making and workflow. In the opposite case, the employer can miss up to 50 per cent of the talent pool.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

I enjoy reading books by Cal Newport, especially his Deep Work helped me immensely in being efficient to maximum and finding enough strength to finish my PhD thesis while working fulltime in private sector.

For women who are considering a career in tech and would like to try hands-on experience first, I would recommend taking a look at CTF Tech’s Portal. The platform teaches the users the very basics as well as provides them with an opportunity to try out their newly acquired knowledge by solving different challenges later on and finally perhaps even compete with other portal’s users.