Andrea Manning is an entrepreneur. She graduated from university with a BSc in Business Information Systems late in life. This was the ideal course as it combined business and tech. Focusing on the human factor of cybersecurity, she is now launching CyberPie to teach small businesses how to avoid being hacked, scammed or victims of ransomware. The balance of tech, human and creativity combine to make this her dream job.
Has your opinion of STEM changed since you were a teenager?
100%. I thought I was so bad at maths, my school allowed me to drop out of it at 16. Returning to study later in life I had to start with the basics and catch up to the same level as leaving cert students. A great teacher made it simple and I finished up with marks in the high 80’s.
In your opinion, what is the biggest myth about STEM careers?
That it has to be all technical and can’t be combined with other soft skills like marketing or design.
Do you believe that there is enough being done to encourage girls to study STEM and pursue STEM careers?
There is more to be done. There need to me more role models, mentors and teachers that girls can look up to and see themselves doing the same.
Describe an interesting day in your current position.
Researching and reading about the latest ransomware attack or scam. Twitter is often the best source of news and then the rest is up to you. It can feel like being a detective. Once I have all the information, I like to find the bits that others will find interesting to share and turn into training snippets.
What do you love about your current role?
I love being my own boss. I get to decide what I want to do and how I’m going to do it. I get to combine all my talents and have a good mix of desk work on my own mixed with working with people.
What has been the most surprising element of your job?
How cybersecurity sounds so complex yet so often it comes down to the human clicking a link without realising what lies behind it.
What has been your most exciting career moment to date?
Graduating with first class honours as a ‘grown up’. I never got to go to university when I was younger so this meant so much to me. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but the most rewarding certainly.
Do you get to work with any new technologies?
Cybersecurity is getting more and more sophisticated and the rise of Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IOT) devices means we’re all going to more at risk.
Do you ever get to travel abroad for work?
I hope to visit and attend conferences in other countries once we are able to travel again.
What kind of other experts do you work with on a day-to-day basis?
Business Owners, Cybersecurity Experts, IT support.
Is your current job, and the work of the wider team, making a difference in the world?
I hope so. When a business is a victim of cybercrime, the effects can be devasting. Small companies are more than likely to go out of business. Helping people defend and protect their data and their livelihoods feels like we’re making a difference.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year in your current position?
I hope to have 500 businesses sign up to CyberPie when it launches to learn how to defend themselves from cybercrimes. I want everyone to have a piece of the cybersecurity pie!
Do you feel that you fit the stereotypical description of a person in your role?
No. I feel like I’m the opposite of people would expect. And I love that I’m breaking stereotypes.
If a young person told you that they would like to get into your role, what advice would you give them?
Start learning about cybersecurity. Read books and listen to podcasts. There are so many free resources on the internet and programmes to get young people into the industry.
What do you want to see change in the industry in the next 10 years?
More women in cybersecurity. Less gatekeeping and a recognition that its not only about the technical skills. The soft skills and human factor is equally as important.
What are your priorities for the year ahead in your role?
To keep learning and to mentor and help others.
Did you complete any sort of placement or internship during your studies? If so, did it prepare you for what you do now?
Yes, my third year of college included a 9-month internship at a startup. This was the most valuable part of my whole degree. Choose your internship wisely and try to get involved in as many areas as possible.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
To fly on a private jet!
What television series are you currently watching?
The Fall on Netflix
What living person do you most admire, and why?
Caroline Craido Perez. Her award-winning book ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ changed the way I think and has made me even more determined to make sure women and girls have a seat at every table.