Kristiina Omri

Inspirational Woman: Kristiina Omri | Director of Special Programs, CybExer Technologies

Meet Kristiina Omri, Director of Special Programs for CybExer Technologies

Kristiina Omri

Kristiina Omri is Director of Special Programs for CybExer Technologies Business Development team. Before joining the team at CybExer, Kristiina spent a number of years as a career diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and represented Estonia in Estonian Embassy in Berlin as Counsellor for Trade and Economic Affairs.

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

Prior to the current position in CybExer I used to work as an Estonian diplomat. Among other duties I was posted to Germany at the time when Germany was pushing Industry 4.0 and digital governance. During my service in Berlin Estonian diplomats were doing their best to find the collaboration possibilities between Estonian and German government. In a sense it was like a third higher education in digitalisation and business affairs.

Currently, I develop business and R&D in Estonian founded cyber security company CybExer Technologies and I have learned a lot about cyber and IT. My duties are participation in R&D consortiums, tender processes but also marketing related activities such as speaking at cyber related conferences and seminars. The job also gives me a lot of opportunities to speak with Germans and in German that I enjoy a lot.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I plan my achievements, but I really have not planned my career after graduation. If one wants to achieve something and is willing to work hard then the results will come. Those results will be noticed by others. They will make you career offers, and it is your call if you want to take those roads or not.

My career has been guided by my interests and it has taken me to interesting places.

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

Most probably everyone has faced challenges in their life and careers. It is always a challenge to take on new endeavours and it demands some bravery. The brave people may fail but they may also succeed. I am a “glass-half-full person” and in turning points I tend to take the risk. Bravery has served me well. Also, creativity and hard work cannot be underestimated. The variety of character of challenges and duties in your future career may be extremely wide. One must keep up the hard work and learn every day.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

One’s career is like a stairway – each step is there to take you to the next one. The secret is that you only know one or two steps ahead. But you can dream! I can honestly say that I have had the luck to have reached to many of my goals. Getting admitted to the foreign service was certainly an achievement – the process had many stages, and the competition was tough.

Later, the career in foreign service brought me an offer to work as the councillor to the permanent secretary of Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was a great challenge and interesting insight to the top of the diplomacy – and it was a very intense period.

And then arrived the offer to join CybExer Technologies. I decided to take a leap of faith and jump from public to private sector to this fast-growing cyber security company.

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

Constant learning, hard work and positive outlook to whatever comes.

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

It depends on the position, but precision in details combined with the ability to see the big picture comes in handy. There is a lack of people who can make technology understandable and build bridges from technical details to the functional and understandable explanations. People who can make technology understandable and accessible have better opportunities in technology career.

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

There are all sorts of barriers (too young, too old, female, someone being too slow or too fast etc). But skills, combined with high work ethics and personal characteristics usually still do the trick. To be honest, being a women can also be an advantage, because you stand out from the crowd of men in tech.

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

Everyone would benefit from a prejudice-free work environment and inclusiveness in the widest sense. It helps to on-board new people, make teams more diverse and fuel the creativity.

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?

With a magic wand I would send girls from kindergarten to robotics and coding classes. Also, I would send the tech-savvy women to the tech companies for internship for a month so they could experience it themselves… and overcome the hesitation. In the end, if the income matters to you, it is worth looking at what the tech sector can offer.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I recommend a personal coach or mentor, be it officially a coach or someone you can learn from and practically discuss your work-related questions in a impersonalized manner. This could be combined with various sources of information, books, podcasts etc. The trick is not in following one or the other podcast or attend THOSE EXACT events or to learn all the material before. I would call it the good girls’ syndrome – you must have all the knowledge in the world before you dare to act or at least you work too hard to establish yourself (parallel to Hermione in Harry Potter). It is about constantly learning. It does not end after this book, this seminar, or this promotion.


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.