Paving the Way: Inspiring Women in Payments – A Q&A featuring Sabeena Job

 

Sabeena Job once had a manager who motivated her to elevate her skillset and become a PCI Qualified Security Assessor. It was a move that was out of her comfort zone, but ultimately it inspired her to become the best version of herself. As a result, today she manages a team of security consultants and cybersecurity compliance programs for more than 30 organizations around the world. In this edition of our blog, Sabeena explains that growth only comes when you are outside of your comfort zone and why you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

How long have you been at Crossbow Labs and what is your role?

Sabeena Job: I have been working at Crossbow Labs for over six years now. My role here, as a manager of a team of security consultants, involves guiding organizations throughout their cybersecurity compliance programs and technology adoption for cyber security implementation.

Has your role evolved since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and how so?

Sabeena Job: Before the pandemic, I used to travel to different places as part of my job and that gave me an opportunity to meet new people, understand different cultures, the way they work, and be a part of the organizations that I visit even if it is for a small period of time.

Now, since the pandemic started, the method of conducting the assessments has changed. Now, everything is done remotely. The transition from onsite to remote was very quick. I didn’t face much challenge there as our work culture was slightly more adapted to work-from-home situations. Even prior to the pandemic, during traveling, I had to manage my team remotely.

However, there is no doubt that managing a team remotely is entirely different than managing a team offsite. The trust in your team and the regular communication with them plays a major role here. The challenge comes when you have new people on your team. It takes a little more time to understand them, groom them, and establish that trust factor.

How did you get started in the payments industry? What led you to that career choice?

Sabeena Job: In my childhood, I was always interested in crime and investigative television. Eventually, I started developing an interest in investigation and whenever an interesting episode aired, I would collect all the evidence and think of solving the case at home. This rubbed off a lot onto my career options.

I studied Computer Science, and I loved investigating things technically and started to think of a career which involves both. That is when I decided to do my masters in Cyber Forensics and Information Security from the University of Madras.

I came across various opportunities in Information Security right when I graduated. I landed a job in cyber security consulting which warranted an equally investigative mindset and method. Whereas forensics needed all these skills after the fraud happens, information security compliance programs also needed these skills to ensure we have not left any space for the fraud to happen. The payment card industry was relatively new when I had started and happened to be comprehensive in its construct and technical detail. Thus began my affiliation.

Who has been your biggest role model in shaping your career path?

Sabeena Job: My father showed me that hard work pays off. He has taught me to stand up and take responsibility for every action, and not to give up, and so he is the biggest role model in my life.

My manager played an important role in shaping my career path. He always inspired me with his passion for taking up new challenges and learning new things. This is one of the most important things that I got to learn from him because initially, I was in a comfort zone of only doing technical reporting work. My manager, through his actions, motivated me to come out and encouraged me to elevate my skillset and helped me become a PCI QSA. He taught me how to be confident and why it is important to come out of the comfort zone. He inspired me to be the best version of myself.

What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?

Sabeena Job: I have been an integral part of my organization’s growth, having started from a handful of cyber security enthusiasts to becoming a cyber security partner for over 100 organizations today. A large part of this happened because my leadership believed in my ability and skillsets. This is something which I achieved after putting in a lot of time in this ever-evolving technology landscape.

It’s the accumulation of all the small contributions that I’ve made. Today I manage a team of security consultants and cyber security compliance programs for over 30 organizations across the world. It took consistency to achieve this and so this is my proudest accomplishment in my career to date.

Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that is the case?

Sabeena Job: It has not been very long since I started my career. At the time when I joined my first company, there were other women in the same field along with me. Though I’ve not noticed a lack of women in the technology field, I think a lot of young girls should be made aware of the wonderful opportunities in the cyber security space.

In my visits to various organizations as lead QSA, and during my interviews for various roles, I’ve noticed that the top technology roles are handled by men. The representation of women in the top technology levels are very few and this is the situation which I would like to see improved.

There are many women in the technology field, however being more ambitious may help women to get into the top roles.

Many women in the tech industry have felt that their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Is ‘unconscious bias’ holding women back in the workplace and, if so, what can women do about it?

Sabeena Job: The unconscious bias still exists, and it is not only within the men community. This exists even within the women also. It has been impressed upon people for years that women are not technically skilled, or they lack certain skills that are required for technology roles. This stems from a centuries-old mindset and this must be changed.

We are living in a world of unprecedented change and so, too, we must change the way we perceive things. The women in the previous generation have already set the examples for us, within the tech community itself, showing how women can excel. Now, it is our responsibility to increase opportunities and inspire the next generation. The more women in this field, and the more loudly we speak about it, maybe the next generation will not have this question at all.

We have to understand that excellence in technology roles depends on the intelligence and ambitions of the individual and is not driven by gender. Accomplishments are not gender biased and spreading this awareness is the integral key to a successful work environment.

What do you see as the future for women in technology roles/payments industry?

Sabeena Job: My organization has done a great job of diversifying the workforce and is an equal opportunity employer, which gives opportunities for people with merit. We have taken this into consideration that different minds offer unique and fresh perspectives in a work environment and that does not depend on the gender. I’m sure many companies out there are successful in bringing out this change.

Now it is our responsibility to grab that opportunity and work towards it. Keeping yourself updated is an important task. We must be knowledgeable and consistent in what we do. Technology evolves over time, and we must stay relevant with it.

Were you given any advice during your career that has stuck with you? As a result, do you have a personal mantra or a famous quote that you live by?

Sabeena Job: One beautiful line that I came across which has helped me in many situations is this quote by Robin Sharma which goes, “There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of self-mastery. From struggle comes the strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher.”

You need to take everything as an experience if you want to be successful. The important advice that I’ve received during my career is the way you speak to yourself matters. Being positive about yourself matters a lot. One of the main reasons why we doubt ourselves is because of the negative feedback we are continuously giving to our brain, and this affects our work and personal life.

So, one thing you have to remember is, if you are feeling low, feed some positive things about yourself to your brain and you’ll be surprised seeing how easily you come out of that self-doubting phase.

What advice would you impart to other women about how to succeed in the payment industry or in a technology-based field in general? What advice would you give to your younger self?

Sabeena Job: Very often, we think what others tell us, or what certain reports or certain books say, is true. Sometimes, if others say we cannot do a particular task, our subconscious mind will pick it up and start believing it and our physical actions will be more towards proving that point.

The advice that I would give to my younger self, or any women is, if we have to be successful in any field, we have to become our own believers; we have to compete with ourselves, challenging none but yourself every single day and then create a better environment for ourselves and for the women out there.

To do all these things with confidence, the ultimate thing is to stay relevant, especially in technology. Another important piece of advice that I would give is to come out of your comfort zone, because everything that you want is outside of your comfort zone. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Read More from the Women in Payments Series