Top Women in Cybersecurity: May Mitchell
May Mitchell, Vice President, Worldwide Field and Channel Marketing, Cylance
Building on a long career in cybersecurity, May Mitchell recently joined California-based Cylance, which helps businesses to predict malware attacks and prevent them from taking down critical assets, data and networks. The company’s products are cloud-based and driven by AI, and Mitchell says the biggest challenges in her role as a VP of marketing are “educating potential customers and the public on why our approach is innovative and different from other vendors” and measuring investment spending.
“I really enjoy this space and the purpose behind it – making the world a safer place,” she says. In her experience, working in cybersecurity “will challenge you to constantly learn new skills.”
Can you talk about the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you conquer that challenge?
I always knew that I wanted a career and a family, and both are top priorities in my life. Growing up I was surrounded by family with a strong focus on math and science but I was also very active with clubs and team sports. This combination of problem-solving, teamwork and competition drove me to a career in technology marketing, partnerships and sales. … Commitment to my career was something I had full control of when I was single, however, it was equally important for me to find someone that shared the same life values. On a flight home from one of my business trips I met my husband, who I have been married to for 22 years, and we now have two girls in college. The delicate balance of work and life is not easy by any means — communication and setting priorities are essential to our success.
What/who inspired you to get into your field of work?
I come from a family of all girls. My three older sisters majored in engineering fields and got jobs right away upon graduation. I was always intrigued by solving problems, whether it was math-related or building science projects. Growing up in Chicago, my other passion was playing team sports where I enjoyed working with others and harnessing my competitive nature. I followed the path of my sisters by majoring in computer science and found a full-time internship at Lockheed Martin supporting global positioning systems. … Lockheed paid for my tuition while I worked full-time, and after a couple of years in the development and project management organization, I found a sponsor who got me into a sales executive role at Fujitsu.
Why is it important to you to empower women and other minorities to join more technical and technology-related fields?
I am a strong believer that a critical success factor for any organization is diversity. Men and women think and see things differently, which drives creativity and innovation. In the technology field, women comprise 25 percent to 30 percent in the industry and that number is even lower for women who hold a technology-specific position. The demand for women in the cybersecurity industry is three times higher than other tech jobs. … The jobs are out there.