• Garrett O’Hara

    Garrett O’Hara is the Chief Field Technologist, APAC at Mimecast having joined in 2015 with the opening of the Sydney office, leading the growth and development of the local team. With over 20 years of experience across development, UI/UX, technology communication, training development and mentoring, Garrett now works to help organisations understand and manage their cyber resilience strategies and is a regular industry commentator on the cyber security landscape, data assurance approaches and business continuity.


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In our second Women in Cyber episode, Amy is back on the show and joined by Susie Jones CEO and Co-founder of Cynch Security, and Kistin Gunnis Operations Manager and Executive Mentor and Coach with Business in Heels.

Amy, Susie and Kistin discuss the ongoing issue of the gender pay gap and quotas, they talk about the importance of International Women's Day and the differing opinions of the day amongst women. They then share and talk to some of the most exciting aspects of working in the tech industry, as well as some of the challenges. The episode also provides some great advice for anyone, especially women, considering a career in technology.


The Get Cyber Resilient Show Episode #101 Transcript

Amy Holden: Welcome to The Get Cyber Resilient podcast, I'm Amy Holden, hosting today's very special episode where we are joined by two extremely talented women with a wealth of experience in the technology and cyber security space. We'll be speaking with Susie Jones, CEO and co-founder of Cynch Security, and Kistin Gunnis, operations manager and executive mentor and coach with Business in Heels. Cynch Security is an Australian owned and managed cyber security firm that offers software as a service, cyber solutions designed specifically for micro and small business owners. Prior to co-founding Cynch, Susie obtained her double commerce arts degree from the University of Melbourne and began her career at Marsh and Willis before changing course to join Australia Post in the risk and compliance team. Her last role prior to Cynch was head of cyber security, business solutions at Oz Post. Susie is an expert at translating complex cyber security and risk content into non-technical language for business leaders across all industries.

Kistin Gunnis brings with her over 25 years of experience within operations management and it really does feel like she has seen it all. Today she works with business women to understand and articulate their value in how to make a difference in their profitability. She has worked internationally and domestically in the [inaudible 00:01:30] industry and knows how hard it can be to succeed as a woman on your merit. Kistin is passionate about supporting women to get the rewards they deserve. In this episode, we discuss the gender pay gap and quotas, International Women's Day, and how not every woman is a fan, even though we can see the importance of it, mentoring, coaching, sponsoring, and the most exciting aspects of working in this industry, as well as some of the challenges as well. This episode provides advice for anyone considering a career in technology and would be a great one to share with a female in your network that might be considering a career change.

As we know, there's a huge gender gap between men and women in STEM fields. Now, over to the conversation. Hello to our listeners, I'm very excited for our episode today. It is a second part in our women in technology episode and today I am very lucky to be joined by Susie- Susie Jones, CEO of Cynch Security, and Kistin Gunnis, operations manager and executive coach with Business in Heels. Hello ladies.

Susie Jones: Hello.

Kistin Gunnis: Hi.

Amy Holden: And I think we're all located around Australia, so maybe we could just have a- a quick touch base on kind of where you're tuning in- or where you're coming in from today and what the weather's like and how it is in your part of the world.

Susie Jones: I'll kick it off because I think Kistin's well and truly gonna hit me out of the ballpark when she says where she's dialing in from. So, I'm in- I'm in Melbourne today. It's been a glorious morning today so looking forward to getting out and about. I think it's gonna rain for the rest of the week. So looking forward to getting out in that sunshine shortly.

Kistin Gunnis: Fantastic. And I was in Melbourne but at the end of last year I moved to the Barossa Valley in South Australia to support my husband whose sort of on the periphery of the wine industry. So it's- it's been an interesting move, let's just say that. And, [laughs] I'm still getting used to being here.

Amy Holden: Making me thirsty and it's only- it's only el- 11:00 AM.

Kistin Gunnis: [laughs].

Amy Holden: [laughs].

Susie Jones: I think it could be dangerous for me to be in Barossa Valley, I don't know how you're- how you're doing it.

Kistin Gunnis: I don't drink, it's so great [laughs].

Amy Holden: Well before we- we get started and kinda go through the objectives in- in this episode we really like to- to paint the picture for what it looks like for women in this industry. And- and kind of lower the barrier to women that might be considering a career in in te- tech and security. And both Susie and Kistin have amazing careers that I'm in awe of. So I'd love to have each of you take us through kind of the- the long and windy journey and where you got to, where- or how you got to where you are today. You're- you're both smiling so, [laughs].

Susie Jones: You can go first this time Kistin.

Kistin Gunnis: Sure it was a bit of an accident really. Left school, joined a- a large accounting firm, you know, and back when I'm old, so back when I did that it was junior positions still existed. So worked my way through that organization. Then moved across to what was back then known as Telecom, which is now known as Telstra. I spent 14 years with them but I never- I never stayed in the same sort of role more than 18 months, I moved around a lot, lot of cross hatching from a- a career, you know, path perspective. I was always seeking to learn something new. I quite often catalog it as I just collected skills as I went along. And funnily enough, I think when I I joined Verizon who is an American telco but also has professional services and a number of other services that they provide it- it- it- all of those skills sort of came to fruition I think and, you know, I ended up as a- a global operations manager for their professional services industry or group supporting IT and security services globally.

It- you know, so I think all of those skills that I sort of collected along the way ended up co- becoming very handy and sort of created this role you know, that where you needed such a breadth of- of skills and a breadth of experience. And I- I would constantly say I was never an expert in anything. I think the expertise I brought to the table was having, you know, all of those different skills, I could ask really good questions, usually 'cause I just didn't know everything. But I also learnt really quickly how to build very good networks, both internally and externally. So that I could sort of, when I got to m- the end of my education I had somebody that I could bring it to the table to have a much better and more detailed conversation on something where I was lacking that knowledge. So really my jo- my career journey was not planned. But, you know, it was that gathering of knowledge and- and just a thirst for knowledge and- and wanting to, you know, every day learn something new that led me sort of into an security environment.

Amy Holden: And we- we will come back to you and- and talk about the- now the- the jump to to mentoring. Which I've been lucky enough to have group mentoring sessions with- with Kistin and I I heard you speak at a Business in Heels e- event and was like, "This is somebody that I wanna talk to more and pick her brains" she's a we- has a wealth of knowledge. Susie, yeah, would love to hear hear about your journey as well and- and how you got to where you are.

Susie Jones: Yeah, absolutely. Again it certainly was not planned to be co-owning and running a cyber security firm. I think when I was a teenager I wanted to be a lawyer until I realized I might not always win. And when I left high school I went to university do a commerce arts degree. I still didn't really know what I wanted to do. I think I wanted to do HR and then I realized that HR actually isn't about helping people, it's about helping businesses, and so I decided nope, that wasn't for me. So finished my degree and got myself a grad job at Marsh, which is the world's largest commercial insurance broker. And found that that industry really worked for me. It was an- an industry where hard work really did pay off. I stayed at Marsh for- for three and a half years. I went from, you know, a grad up to account executive.

Then moved across to Willis in mid 2008 to join their insolvency and reconstruction division as an insurance broker there. If you all cast your minds back to August 2008, we were starting to hear grumblings about, "Oh gee, the economy might have a- a bit of a fall". By October 2008 the GSC was well and truly off and running and I had spent the next two years uh, working harder than I think I ever knew I could during that time. I joined that team to get a wealth of knowledge and I definitely got that. But after two years I was well and truly burnt out of- of just seeing company after company fail and fall over, trying to help them where I could, but there's only so much you could do when I was working for the usually the [inaudible 00:08:55].

So I went back to Marsh and found myself a power and utilities insurance broker. And you know, sort of done things like cruising around your law and power station and visiting and do- doing site tours of water re- recycling plants, which is less fun. And decided that- I started to realize that after nearly a decade or so of of insurance broking, I could see the next 30 years of my career in- ahead of me, and it looked like more of the same. Which suited many people in that industry, but that's just not the way that I'm built. So I asked for an introduction from a- a colleague of mine to the chief risk officer at Australia Post and got myself a job there managing their insurance. And within the first couple of months of joining there I found myself placing their first or purchasing their first cyber insurance policy, which was my first interaction with a cyber team.

And I realized that whilst these people are my people, they also need me [laughs]. So after, you know, a few years of- of building out my skills and sort of moving from just insurance management to risk management to commercial management I found myself working with my now co-founder on a project within Australia Post to support small businesses that had had a data breach. And could we build a product in conjunction with a fabulous company called [inaudible 00:10:17], a not for profit in Queensland could we build a product that could help those businesses that had suffered a data breach to recover? I learnt so many things in that six months that we worked on that project. First of all, we helped Australia Post realize they don't wanna be a cyber security company and so the project got shut down.

But after so many phone calls with small business owners that had had data breaches, we realized just how completely ignored they are by the cyber security industry. And this was a problem that once we'd discovered it, we couldn't leave it alone. So whilst when the project got shut down I went off to- to be head of cyber security business services at Australia Post uh, nights and weekends my co-founder Adam Selwood and I built Cynch. Um, Um, and, uh, so after 15 months of juggling what was a pretty high- high highly demanding job it- in that team, I finally decided to take the leap to jump into Cynch full time and see if we could make a run of it.

So Cynch is a software as a service business, so we have a platform that supports micro and small businesses to understand their cyber risk and prioritize everything that they need to do to improve it. We provide them with everything in plain language, we don't make it scary, we help them track all of their benefits, and ultimately help them to use that as a growth tool for their business. If you're investing in cyber security, it means that your business can be trusted more than your competitors, so you should be able to use it as a- as a selling tool, and that's what we help our customers do.

Amy Holden: Great, wow [laughs]. Both of you have- have done so much and- and taken a lot of different turns. And I think we could have separate episodes just like digging- digging more into- to the businesses that you've worked with and I know Susie my colleague [inaudible 00:12:01] definitely wants to have you back to talk more about what- what Cynch does. But I wanted to- well it's interesting that when you- when you said Susie that, wh- when you went, looked at HR, you- you saw that you were helping you weren't helping people, you were helping businesses, but then your role has ultimately become about helping- helping businesses [laughs].

Susie Jones: Well, but it's about helping the people within businesses. So that- that's what Cynch is all about. We're- we're human centered. The whole reason why we don't use jargon when we talk is because we're talking to people. And the whole reason why we want to support small businesses is because for a small business owner, who they are as a person is completely interlocked with who their company is. When you meet somebody that owns and runs their own small business and you ask them what do they do, they don't just say, "Oh I'm an accountant", they say "I own my own accounting practice". Because their business and- and who they are as people is all in one.

And that means when they have a cyber incident, it's not just the- you know, in a bit- in a big corporate like Australia Post, when you have a cyber incident, it makes for a pretty crappy day, a bad week, maybe a bad month. But ultimately you get over it 'cause it's- it's not your loss, it's the businesses lost. When a small business owner has a data breach or a cyber security incident, it can honestly be the worst day of their life. It's certainly the worst day of their working life, and it can take months and months and months to recover. So the impact is so much greater. So whilst I say we support small businesses, more importantly we support small business owners and risk owners to- to better manage their risk and avoid having one of the worst days of their working lives.

Amy Holden: Yeah. And- and it- I think you're absolutely right, like it- it is helping the people and I- I was privy to a conversation with a- a larger lo- logistics company who did have a breach and they- they said that it's not talked about how much it actually impacts the employees as well, that they were calling getting abused, they were so stressed they couldn't log into systems. Like there- there is a huge impact on the individuals and, like you said, especially with the business owners as well. So it's a very, very important organization and that's exciting that you've yeah, been able to start or co-found that business. And I know, I wanted to jump into men- mentoring. I know Kistin that's- you've made the move from- form corporate into to- to- to taking those corporate learnings and- and helping female professionals. And I know that, Susie, that you do mentoring as well and that you've had mentor- tors along your career. So I think there's a bit to explore with both of you. But if you wanted to- to kick us off Kistin and tell us kind of why you made the- the switch and- and what you do now.

Kistin Gunnis: Well, I- I got burnt out in corporate 'cause that's what happens in corporate [laughs]. Unfortunately. And I didn't have a great deal of balance. I- you know, I was traveling regularly internationally, I worked 70 hour, you know, weeks, if not more, you know, seven days a week. I worked New York hours from here in Australia which- it's a big, hard job to do that, you know? I was looking, you know, providing operational support for over 1000 people in 36 countries plus third parties. It's, you know, those types of jobs are hard. But I took all of the lessons that I learned and when I started working with our CEO Lisa Sweeny and came across to Business in Heels, it was how could I transition all of the skills and the knowledge that I'd learnt during my, you know, 25, 30 year career and transition that to other people who perhaps didn't understand that in, you know, it is a bit of a game.

You know, you need to understand the rules so that you can move forward if you do want a career. And there are a lot- every organization has unspoken rules. And they just aren't talked about, you know? Whether it's a- a payroll discussion level, whether it's at promotion level you know, a bit like Susie, I'm a- I'm a bit, you know, upfront with people. I think, you know, once you've got the information then you can make really good decisions about, you know, what it is that you want your career to look like. Is this the right organization for you? Is it the right cultural fit? Because not every organization will suit everybody.

And it's about having, you know, talking, having an independent person to talk through you know, the- the issues that you dealing with, whether it's at a personal, professional level, whether it's the work itself, whether it's your own behaviors. I think that's what a good mentor does. But they take it to the- it's that experience that they've already got, but they take it to the next level by sharing their own connections, sharing their own stories and giving them that- that information that nobody normally talks about. And I think that's important at a mentoring perspective. And that's- that's pretty much what we do now at Business in Heels. It's just one part of the many things that we do. But mentoring is a big part of it.

Amy Holden: And were there mentors that you kind of- that had impacted your- your career and even your transition? And did some of that help you decide that you wanted to- to go down that path and- and mentor as well?

Kistin Gunnis: Yeah, I- I had some- I was really lucky a lo- you know, I've had some females and I've had some male mentors. And it- at very specific times in my career who have actually helped me make quite large career decisions, you know? And we've been really honest about it. And I think that's also good, is that sometimes a really good mentor will sit you down and actually say, you know, either "Pull your head in" or, you know, "Perhaps you've made a mistake, let's talk about what it would look like and how can you learn from it and how can you move forward", all the way through to being very empathetic about what the situation is. And I was- I was lucky, I've had some really amazing mentors at very pivotal points in my career. Some of them I came across just purely by accident, some I sought out very strategically.

And I think- I think it's, you know, if people come in and out of your life for various reasons, and I think it's about making sure that you understand, you know, where's your gap in your skills? Is the mentor somebody that can fill those gaps? And is that something that you're looking for? But you do have to take responsibility for your own actions. The mentor is not- they can give you guidance but ultimately it's your career and you've got to make those decisions. But at least you can have somebody independent to support you and be a cheerleader throughout that entire process.

Amy Holden: Yeah, yeah definitely- definitely agree. I've yeah, had some great mentors and well and some of it is that- that realization that, you know, you do have gaps and where you need to focus and that you kind of you know, need someone to- to help you realize that or point that out. I know we talked a bit about the difference between mentoring coaching, a mentor's not your manager. Did you- did you- I lo- might sit a little bit more with you Kistin, if you- and then we'll- we'll jump over to... and chime in too Susie if you wanna jump in. But I wanna- yeah, I wanna hear your take on it as well.

Kistin Gunnis: Um, look I- this is my personal take on it. You know, mentoring is somebody who brings that lived experience. And that's what you're looking for because you're wanting to learn quickly and you wanna learn from somebody else's mistakes. And also, take advantage of the good- the great connections and the experiences that they've got. Coaching, I think, and- and having been a people manager for many years, it's about helping people get to the realization by asking very astute and good questions. And that's how I take it. Then you have somebody else entirely who is called a sponsor. And a sponsor is somebody that has who either, you know, looks at you and goes, "Do you know what? They've got some skill sets, there's a gap in our organization, I'm going to now use my influence", and- and they will help you either position yourself. They will speak about you when you're not there to others and can get decisions made.

And I think you need to have a combination of all three. You know, usually a people manager we would want to see in a coaching role. It's not about a people manager going "Here, this is what you do, just go off and do it". It's about retraining your brain to help you get to the realization of what the answers are by asking really good questions. "Well, how would you actually go about doing that?" A mentor is then gonna sit you down and say "Hey, here's how I've actually done this and maybe you can talk to this person, or maybe we can work out through how would you do it? Let's role play it, let's do different things". And then that sponsor is, you know, that silent person that's gonna speak about you when- you know when- when you just not there and- and- and help you move forward in your career. Susie, what about you? What's your thoughts on that? The- those three.

Susie Jones: I definitely agree with those definitions and I think for me in my career, I have been- I've been in the position of being a mentor and being a coach more often than I have been coached or mentored. But that's- that's because of the way that I am. I- I- I- first of all, I like to take risks when it comes to personal risks. You know, when it came to Cynch, it was- I was leaving every- a pretty high- highly paid and- and, you know, big job there to go and start a business and I had no idea how to start a business or- or anything like that. But I was like "Well, what's the worst case? If- if Cynch fails I go get another job". Whereas so many- so many people wouldn't take that sort of risk. So for me I tend to use my friends as my mentors and I've been very lucky to have good managers in the past that have been great coaches for me. But never really in any sort of formal capacity.

So for me, I take personal risks, I'm very comfortable doing so, even when it comes to Australia Post, I was leaving a pretty highly paid secure job to go and start a business but I'd never done before. But I figured, "Well, if it doesn't work I'll just go get another job". So for me, I've had great managers that have been great coaches for me in the past. But I use my friends as my mentors largely and listen to what they've done and failed and- and figure out what I need to do with that. But sponsors are where I've really benefited in- in my corporate career certainly, but more than anything in my startup career. When- when we started Cynch I immediately joined [inaudible 00:22:37] which is a cyber security accelerator. And they just surround you with experienced, passionate people that want to see you succeed. And I found some of the most amazing sponsors throughout that.

So you know, Michelle Price who until recently was the CEO of Oz Cyber Australia's cyber security growth network she's been one of my biggest sponsors and- and Cynch's biggest sponsors. And she talks about, whenever anybody asks her about small business cyber security, she will bring up Cynch. Similarly, Ben Doyle who- from Telos who has been absolutely m- amazing for us within the defense industry. So sponsors are typically those people that you never asked them to be a sponsor but you impressed them and they have influence and they are happy to use their influence to support you. And they not asking for anything back. They're- they just wanna see good people succeed. And so that's where those sort of, you know, quiet achievers can really come into- into light and into opportunity if you're able to influence and impress those people in positions of power. 'Cause they will happily talk about you even if you're not willing to talk about you.

Amy Holden: Yeah, I think it's really important too to- to kinda go through the differences and- and how they've- they've come about. And I've heard um, you know successful women like yourselves say that people just come up to them and say, "Will you mentor me?". And they're like, "Well, like, what", you know, and it's kind of having the strategic plan and like what- what do I- like, let's form a relationship and like kind of what do I wanna get out of this? And it sounds like that's kind of some of the advice that you would give as well to the audience around-

Kistin Gunnis: Well I think- I think it's really important to do a gap analysis of what your skills are before you actually go and seek out a mentor. I- I really do think it's how- take that gap analysis, so, you know, go through, do an audit of your current skills, think about the types of roles that you want to go into, and look at what are the skills that that role requires? Work out where your gap is and then look for really great mentors who have- have got those skills. And then you can pull the two together, 'cause I think that's a much better way to do it. It- it's a very haphazard if you just go, "Oh I'm so inspired by you, you know, can you be my mentor?". It- it's not really fulfilling the role that well. And the person- and- and it won't last very well, you know, long. You know? Normally a really good mentoring relationship with good mentoring goals should be between six to eight months, maybe 12 months. Because it's about that transition of knowledge. And you should be sticking to a set of goals and working out right at the beginning what do you want? What are you trying to achieve out of that relationship?

You know, quite often great friendships result out of, you know, mentoring arrangements. And you might call them up occasionally go "Hey can I just run something past you?". And that's fantastic. But w- you know, time is at an absolute, you know, minimum for everybody these days. So both, you have to be respectful of the mentor's time and you wanna get the most out of your time. Well you should be. And so I think it's important, do that gap analysis first, work out where you think you might wanna go, and then, you know, go from that next step.

Susie Jones: I think when you're doing that gap analysis as well, just thinking about, you know, being a women in technology kind of episode here and just generally the women in technology conversation as well. When you do a skills gap analysis, obviously you need to be honest with yourself about what you're good and what you're bad at. But then when you starting to- to match what your skills are with your next potential role, don't limit yourself to the industries that you've worked in before. So cyber security, there is so much conversation going on about how there is zero unemployment in cyber security right now. So what does that mean? That means that there are hundreds if not thousands of jobs right now that are available for people with the right skills and the right attitude.

Within our company, we're shortly going to be hiring again. And we're not going to be looking for people with deep cyber security expertise. We're going to be looking with- for people with the right skills that we need to be able to fulfill the roles and the passion for helping people and a passion for problem solving. That's what we look for. And that's what just about every other cyber security firm looks for. And not just cyber security, it's just about what every technology firm looks o- for. There are so many roles within organizations in this industry that can be filled by somebody that, not, I- I'm not sure that it could be filled by somebody that hates computers, but it can certainly be filled by somebody who is indifferent to technology.

Amy Holden: [laughs].

Susie Jones: [and, you know, there's- there's a- you know, these are also very well paying jobs. So, you know, tech- like traditionally, female dominated industries are paid far less than men. Obviously we all know about the gender pay gap. Within technology, there is money everywhere. Doing- not money everywhere in my company, we're still working on that. But you know, in the industry. There is- there is money everywhere. So if you really want to be able to establish your own financial independence, if you wanna be able to, you know, buy your own home and not rely on your partner and that sort of thing, then find a way to get into the technology industry. Because this is where the future is. Nobody- the- every business is now a digital business after the pandemic. So if you've got tech skills, even rudimentary tech skills, and an interest to learn this is where- this is where it's at.

Kistin Gunnis: Well it's- I think it's a really good, you know, segue. Because most of your customers potentially aren't technology specialists. So if you're going on that journey, you're very empathetic with your client base, because they're dealing with some issues that they've probably never seen before. You know, and it's very much, you know, I- I like how you say, you know, look at- look outside the square because you gotta look at both the soft skills and the hard skills. You know? As I went up in my career and- and you'll probably say the same Susie, it moves away from the hard skills. There's an expectation that those hard skills have to be there. But we don't consider it so much anymore, it's not part of the bigger equation. We wanna know that you can influence. We wanna know that you can build really good relationships. That you can actually lead. And a lot of that is more on that EQ side than it is on the IQ side. And I think that's where, you know, as we move through our, you know, and- and women are really good usually on the EQ side. And so they can actually have great relationships or build great relationships with client bases.

Susie Jones: Absolutely, I totally agree with that. And, I mean for me, you know, tech- technically my- my skill base, my- my actual qualifications are- are insurance. If I get to read an insurance policy these days, the insurance geek in me is super excited, but it do- it's few and far between. It doesn't happen very often that I'm actually using my hard skills that I've learnt in the past. It is all about soft skills. It's about influencing, it's about engendering trust in- in relationships. And it's about being curious and- and learning about other businesses. When- when I'm on a call with a- a potential new client, the f- the first 10, 15, 20 minutes is all just, "Tell me about your business? Tell me about your challenges? What's keeping you up at night? What's the tech that you use every day? What are the decisions that you have coming down the pipeline that you know that you gonna have to figure out one way or another? What does the tech landscape in your business look like? And then how on earth are you going to secure it?". They're the sorts of things that I want to know and they're the questions that anybody can ask if they're [crosstalk 00:30:10]-

Amy Holden: Yeah, it- it's so great. And it- it really helps lower the- the barrier to women considering a career in- in technology. And like we know that women make up about 50 percent of the- the workforce, but only 24 percent of STEM careers. And I know Kistin you recently spoke on the gender pay gap and- and Susie you have some ideas of kind of what works well in in what you do in your business. I'd love to- to explore some of that and then maybe with a lead into- to International Women's Day. And- and when me- [laughs] when men were saying, "Why do we need this day?", like I just, when the pay gap isn't there, then we can talk about removing the day is my response. So yeah, I would love to hear your- your thoughts and ideas around the pay gap.

Kistin Gunnis: Well I- you know uh, it's a funny thing, m- you know? It- there's this whole, you know, diversity and inclusion process and- and we definitely need it to make changes. I don't know about you Susie, but every time I hear the- the- you know, the whole conversation around women are a minority group, well we're actually not, we're 51 percent of the population. So we're definitely not a minority. However, where we are a minority is in many of those executive and leadership roles. And that's where the minority issue is. You know, at a gender pay gap perspective, we are talking with some of the in- in those industries, so like accounting and law and even technology and marketing, where a lot of women are going and more and more, because we're seeing, you know, fairly high take up rates at a university level going into some of those careers. The pay gap still is 24 to 27 percent difference. And that's not okay.

You know, I started out my career on pay bans. There wasn't a gender issue. We weren't talking about it back then. You know? And then we moved onto, you know, individual contracts and that's where we started to see a bigger slide. You know, I- I think there are easier ways to rectify this problem and do it really quickly. We don't- it- it's been years since we've seen a movement in this. If you're doing the same job as everybody, then why shouldn't we be paid the same amount of money? 'Cause you're- you know, and- and unfortunately, and- and this is definitely my experience, women have to quite often work harder because of the already predefined biases from those around us and also our own biases that trip us up. So it's not just everybody else around us. It's sometimes ourselves that are stepping, you know, stepping in front of ourselves and stopping us from moving forward. So I'm not sure your thoughts on that one Susie?

Susie Jones: Well it's- it's interesting. So I was at Australia Post six or seven years ago now, when it was proudly announced that Australia Post had achieved zero percent gender pay gap. And I- I was amazed at myself at just how proud I was to work in a company that did that. Because I know how hard it is to do it. And yet it's not that hard. So, I- I- not long after I was at an insurance industry event, at one of the large um, insurance brokers here in Melbourne. And it must have been an International Women's Day event, I know we'll talk about that, but it must have been 'cause it was a room full of women except for the- the few executive men up on the stage talking about women. And... They- they stood up there and- and spoke about how they'd done their own research into their company and they'd identified it with something like only a 17 percent gender pay gap and so now they had a plan over the next five to seven years to rectify that.

And I put my hand and stood up and said, "Well I work at Australia Post, we've just achieved zero percent and are you- do you know how much that 27 or whatever, 17", whatever percentage it was, "Do you know what that actually equates to in dollars?". And he said "Oh, it's approximately three million dollars". I'm like, "What was your profit last year?" and he's like, "Oh, I'm like, "I'm guessing it's more than three million dollars. So how about you just pay women three million dollars more and get on with your life and everybody can move on?". And "Oh no, it's not that simple, I- I understand you might think it's that simple". It- the response was so patronizing. And frankly, it's just ridiculous. When we- when we're working in technology and industries where there- the skill shortage is so high and the demand for jobs is so low [laughs], the demand for skills is so high, just pay them more. Just do it.

In my company when we set out to start hiring our first team members Adam and I sat down and I'm like, "I never want to have to have a gender pay gap discussion at Cynch. Of all of the problems we're gonna solve in this journey, that's not one that I want to create and then have to solve". So what we did is we took a leaf out of the book of a company called Buffer. They are completely transparent with their salaries. They have gone through several iterations of creating their own salary calculator. And so they simply, with the- when they are advertising a role, they have a calculator it takes into account the number of years experience in that sort of role they stage in the business that you join, so the earlier in the start up that you join that company the bigger risk factor that you get and therefore the higher wage that you have 'cause you've taken a bigger risk to join an- an unsteady, unstable startup. And you just get paid that. And it doesn't matter if you're a guy or a girl, that's what you get paid. And that's what we do at Cynch.

So I've never been- never negotiated the salary at Cynch. I never what- we- we will offer it based on what's on the paper and off we go. And you know that? That makes hiring- hiring discussions and negotiations so much simpler. So from just a pragmatic, practical perspective, not only do I never have to worry about having a gender pay gap, I don't have to have awkward salary negotiations and tell people "No". And not only that, but everybody in my team knows that they're getting paid fairly. That nobody is questioning whether or not the person next to them is getting paid more than them or not because if they're in the same role, they're getting paid the same. Simple.

Kistin Gunnis: Yeah, and there's a cost involved in managing, you know, pay rolls and managing morale and all of those elements. 'Cause we end up spending as executives a lot of time that's wasted, you know, after an employee opinion survey comes out because there's complaints or there's issues. That- that's a lot of wasted time that could be much more productive actually providing our clients with the services or products that we're providing rather than having to manage internal issues like that.

Susie Jones: Absolutely.

Amy Holden: All right, well yeah, thanks- thanks for sharing, I think that's a great approach and a lot of learnings that other organizations can- can probably take from that. And back to- well to International Women's Day. So [ I know that you both have different opinions Kistin very involved and I know, Susie we- we've chatted a- a bit about this and I can definitely see both sides, but I'd love for you to take us both through kind of your perspective on the day and kind of, you know, what it- what it means and yeah, what- what you think about it.

Susie Jones: Am I- am I taking this one first Kistin?

Amy Holden: Yeah [laughs].

Susie Jones: Sorry, I- I feel like yours is gonna be the most uplifting version. So so for me I'm- I'm very split personality when it comes to International Women's Day. Do I believe the day is needed? Absolutely. But I cannot stand the way that it is celebrated these days. So for me in my position, I- I do presentations, public speaking, every week of- of the year. And you know what? 51 weeks out of the year, I am up there speaking because I am a person of knowledge and skill and influence and kicking goals. And then that one week of the year, people expect me to get up and talk because I'm a woman. Screw that. I'm not interested in being on a stage simply because of my gender. And and I find that really, really, really frustrating because often even the questions that you get asked when you're onstage during International Women's Day have nothing to do with your business or your success or your achievements. It's all just about, you know, how do- how can you possibly be successful as a woman? And it's just- it's incredibly, incredibly frustrating.

But at the same time, I'm also a massive fan of the idea of quotas. Because for several generations now, we have seen all- like- incredibly no- low numbers in- in politics, in the executive board rooms, in every place of influenced. And it's rubbish. So if we need to put in quotas to get women through those doors, fine. And if that means that women of slightly less experience end up in those positions, fine. You know what? They'll learn on the job. It's still better than having panels and panels and rooms and rooms filled with the same the same people, the same thoughts, and the same processes. So I- I'm definitely passionate about- about International Women's Day but in a different way to most. For example for the last two years I've taken that week off in- in March. I go on annual leave, I disappear, so that then I don't have to say "No" to, you know, five, 10 invitations for- for lunches or presentations or whatever, because I'm just on annual leave. It's just easier to not be there. And if they want me to present, then I'll do it the following week. That's fine.

Amy Holden: Yeah [laughs].

Susie Jones: Over to the more positive.

Amy Holden: No I can definitely- I can definitely see- see that side, like, and I think- and I- and I know when we talked about it, you said, you know, like you've achieved so much and it's not because of- of your gender, but it's also, you recognize the importance of being a role model for- for women in this industry that's less represented as well.

Susie Jones: Absolutely.

Kistin Gunnis: And I think we should have that conversation around role models. You know, whenever you look at, like, the lists of the, you know, the top business women in Australia or in specific countries, we consistently see the same people. And I- I wonder sometimes how those lists are put together because there's amazing women out there and I'm- you know, and I look at it from two sides. that's probably the consultant in me. And I look at it from the perspective of are those women bored now 'cause they're having to give the same speeches time and time again and they're time poor at the best of times? So why don't we spread the load a little? There is amazing women all over the place who have got a story to tell about how they've gone through in business, what they've done, just even their personal stories to overcome certain issues. So I think we need to flatten out that perspective. It's not about the pointy end of town. You can get inspired from an amazing array of people out there. And I think that's what we need to look at, 'cause I sometimes wonder.

And- and look, there's a lot of work being done to- to pull together lists of, you know, women that are the right role models and but w- again, diversity comes- comes into play. You know, what's the meaning of success is- for me is different to what both of you have as a meaning of success. And so I think we need diversities in those stories. I- I also agree with Susie around you know ta- targets and quotas. But I think they need to be a bit harsher and I think there needs to be some- there needs to be something that eats- starts to eat into bonuses and- and commissions and KPIs to make this change happen. You know? Having worked for an American firm, you know, they're a little further along you know, in the way that they ran things. You know, there was people of color you know, there was you know, we had different employee resource groups, you know? That's not something necessarily that Australian organizations do a lot of. There's more and more of them now that I hear are doing ERGs.

Really it ha- you have to listen to w- you know, you need to look at what does your client base look like? And your organization should represent what your client base is. Otherwise, how are you actually doing business with them? You know, it's very hard for one group to empathize with a totally different group. So how do you properly provide services and products if you actually have no empathy or even have any basic understanding of those sorts of things? So I think, you know, we really do need to move quite harder on some of those targets. And the research shows, the more women that you have in decision making roles at the executive level and at the board level, the better your revenue number is. So, you know, I would think that any shareholder, any analyst, any stakeholder, and even employees, they wanna see a much more diverse landscape of their environment. Because it's really hard to, you know, to try and attain a goal if you can't see that somebody else has already done that.

I'm also a very big believer in how do you build your pipeline out? You know, we see graduate programs that's to get you in. It's a- it's usually at a 50/50 perspective. I have seen a really great program for executive leaders and- and so they almost do a- a mini graduate program and they move them around so that if they're moving up into executive roles, that gives them the opportunity to learn about perhaps the other areas of- of a business, because you have to be able to understand risk, legal you know, finance, you know, all of those different elements of an organization. Technology. So you can't just come from one part of the business and then think you're going to be this great executive if you don't have a full appreciation of all of the other levers to pull in a business. And so if we don't build that pipeline and give everybody the opportunity to learn from those, you know, those different skills that they need to become an executive then of course we're not going to have a lot of women that l- looking to promote.

And I think, you know, there needs to be supported programs that go with it. You know, and I've seen some good programs and I've seen, you know, a- a- a landscape of a desert where there's just none of those programs available. And- and you know, people continually say, "Oh we've got to meet this target", well you've got to put the other supportive you know, processes in play to allow you to get to that target. You know, I- I look at it from the perspective of, of course somebody's going to fail if you put them into a role where they've got no support, no coaching, no mentoring, no pipeline into it, and then everybody sits there and goes, "Oh well, they failed". Well you helped fail that person. You didn't provide the environment to give them the chance to succeed. 'Cause it's not one person, it's the whole team that actually fails in that approach.

Amy Holden: Yeah, def- definitely agree. And I think like having kind of that- that- that roadmap and and the role model aspect of like what the role models that the organization needs to have and so women can kind of look up to that and aspire to that is really important. You didn't paint the rosy picture for International Women's Day [laughs] though Kistin. I know- I know that you're very- you're very involved in it. So just, curious to get your take as a- a kind of a fun one.

Kistin Gunnis: Look, and you know, I- it's- there's a lot of events on for International Women's Day. A lot. But it's, you know, as somebody who works in the diversity and inclusion space, and- and pr- you know, predominantly for women because we see the gap, I'm doing it every day, you know? Just like Susie. You know, I- I like the fact that we celebrate. But can we please celebrate every day for all people? Because we're human beings at the end of the day and, you know, I really wanna see everybody succeeding to the best of being a human being. You know? It should be about one- one or the other. And, you know, and maybe that's the conservative nature in me and the- and the, you know, the it- the- the feeling that I don't want to be combative about it. It shouldn't be.

Susie Jones: I- I think on- on a slightly more positive note for International Women's Day, one suggestion I have for- have for- for anybody attending International Women's Day events, is make sure you take a man along. So one one of the things about those rooms you know, we can- we can go and have a wonderful lunch and hear some amazing, inspiring stories and do some networking and have a great old time. But if it's a room full of women, then that's a great old time, but it's not going to do anything to- to move the needle. It will definitely help to inspire some younger women to continue to strive in their careers, so there is one outcome that is being achieved by that. the other, which is let's not require an International Women's Day is not being achieved if there are no men in the room. So for anybody that is attending some sort of function for International Women's Day, if you're being invited by somebody else, ask- ask if you can have two tickets and bring along a man.

Because I mean, the last International Women's Day event that I did go to, I remember talking to my partner and- and saying "Oh, I'm going to do this- this presentation", he said "Oh, okay, good luck". And he always came to my presentations, all of them. And I'm like "Oh, you're not coming to this one?", he's like, "Well it's International Women's Day, I didn't think I could". So men quite often don't even realize that they can attend these things. It seems so simple. But just invite a man along and that's- that's gonna help with the- the whole purpose of it.

Kistin Gunnis: And- and you know, I think maybe it's about having a much more upfront conversation around these things. You know? I- I talk to, you know, I've- I've heard all sorts of things said and quite often, you know, a lot of the men aren't sure, what can I say? How do I react? How do I behave? You know? They want to do the right thing you know, in some respects political correctness may have gone too far in some areas. But actually have an upfront conversation, you know? Do I shut the door when I take a female employee to have a- you know, a pay wage, you know, conversation? You know, it- let's actually be upfront about what these things are. And- and do you feel comfortable with it?

Sometimes I think it's about being curiously respectful. You know, ask the question first. Is this okay? Because it may not be, and you may not know the story about something. But I think if you're curious but you're also respectful at the same time and you ask, you know, a number of questions and gain permission, it will change the entire landscape because you start to understand more about somebody else's story and how they've gone through life.

Amy Holden: Yeah, that's really good advice. Well, I think we- I feel like I could just keep picking both of your brains and you have so much knowledge and experience. But we are coming up to the top of the hour. So is there any parting advice that you'd- that you would give to- to anyone, male, female looking to- to join you know, an industry in STEM? I know Susie, that was pretty inspiring before. But you know, we talked about the- the soft skills. But anything else that you wanted to add to the conversation?

Susie Jones: I- I think it's just really important for women to realize that there- there are roles in technology that are not working on tech. You know? So tech firms and startups like mine, we need accountants and we need sales people and we need customer success or customer support people. You know, we- we need operations, we- we need somebody from just about every industry in these organizations. So don't think, "Oh that's a tech firm, I don't wanna work for a tech firm". Because it's a lot more fun than you think it might be. Uh, And it's also a pretty good future proof in terms of your career path.

Amy Holden: An- anything else from you Kistin? Any parting advice?

Kistin Gunnis: I think I think it's important for women to understand their value in the marketplace. So being able to how to- how to calculate that, where to go, what are the resources available? You know, there's lots of great resources out there to understand, you know, for your role and your experience and- and, you know, and the industry. You know, what are the market rates? It's about learning to have confidence and look, confidence can be very difficult to- to, you know, get um, for a number of us. And as you get older you care a little less. [laughs] so that's just something to look forward to. You- we care a little less and we're probably a little less conservative about things. But I think it is very important to learn how to build a foundation of confidence, and a lot of that comes from, how do you value yourself? How do you value your- your own position in the market?

You know, and- and look for, you know, do that gap analysis from skills, you know, both a hard and a soft skills perspective. And then seek out those people, whether it be male, female or anybody else that is going to be able to help you step up. And look for opportunities, you know? Doors are constantly opening, you know, a sideways move may- ma- might- may make you move dramatically further in your career than perhaps a straight up direction can. So cross hatching, you know, from a career planning perspective sometimes can get you further quicker than, you know, just waiting and plodding along. So, you know, gain access to those experiences of other people. I think it's- it's really important.

Amy Holden: Yeah, and I know in our discussions we talked about male or female can be a mentor. Which yeah, is a good, yeah-

Susie Jones: Absolutely.

Amy Holden: ... reminder.

Kistin Gunnis: Again it comes- it comes back, we all have different perspectives, we all experience things differently. I think, you know, if you really are wanting to move ahead in your career, you've got to seek out as many points of difference as you can. Because it's not just about what are the skills that you've got, it's about, you know, who can you influence? How do you influence? What's the right way to do it? And everybody's got different ways to do that. And so their insight is exceedingly important to- to garner. Because you're gonna learn things that, you know, you may not necessarily learn from a textbook.

Amy Holden: Yeah, absolutely. Well thank you so much. It was wonderful speaking with both of you. I don't- I wanna keep talking [laughs]. [

Kistin Gunnis: laughs].

Amy Holden: ... very- very valuable to- to our guests. And um, it was great having you on the podcast. Thanks again Susie and Kistin.

Susie Jones: Thanks for having us.

Kistin Gunnis: Thanks Amy.

Amy Holden: Thank you. Thanks so much to Susie and Kistin for joining us on the episode. And thank you to our listeners of The Get Cyber Resilient podcast. Jump back into our back catalog of episodes and like, subscribe, leave us a review, and share. Goodbye for now, we look forward to catching you on the next episode.

Chief Field Technologist APAC, Mimecast

Garrett O’Hara is the Chief Field Technologist, APAC at Mimecast having joined in 2015 with the opening of the Sydney office, leading the growth and development of the local team. With over 20 years of experience across development, UI/UX, technology communication, training development and mentoring, Garrett now works to help organisations understand and manage their cyber resilience strategies and is a regular industry commentator on the cyber security landscape, data assurance approaches and business continuity.

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