Taking a Deep Dive into Cyber Security Ecosystems

Why Pursue a Career in Cyber as a Woman


My journey into the cybersecurity ecosystem was not planned.

Marija Gjorgieva

Associate Director of partnerships, Global Cyber Alliance

I studied translation and interpretation from and to the English language. So, you might wonder how an interpreter ends up working in cyber. You may or may not find yourself surprised to know that there are more than a few interpreters who work in cybersecurity – more than I assumed. Cybersecurity is one of the frontier careers in technology that is improved by utilizing and harnessing the experience and professional background of a diverse set of people. Working for Global Cyber Alliance has given me the opportunity to work with people from across the globe who indeed carry wide and varied buckets of experience and together we empower various communities to navigate the internet in a safe and secure manner.

Every journey has a starting point. Mine goes back to 2018 when I was already part of the IT sector and worked as a digital marketeer harnessing the power of social media platforms for visibility and brand enforcement. Back in 2018, I was working for a UK company, one of the top five London social media marketing agencies. I saw the impact that digital transformation had and the changes it incurred on internal marketing strategies altering them from vertical to horizontal ones. Hence, I became even more fascinated by the metamorphosis of established business processes resulting from technological advances. This fascination with the world of digital was the reason why I decided to join the startup community by getting on board an ecosystem builder organization, that works as a cohesive link among various national and regional key-players and stakeholders of the national innovation ecosystem.

My enthusiasm to explore startup development and technology innovations was that significant stepping stone that led me to Global Cyber Alliance. Had it not been for my brave decision to join the innovation ecosystem of my own native land N. Macedonia I would have never found myself working for an international organization such as Global Cyber Alliance. While working on a USAID-funded project within the startup ecosystem I had the opportunity to visit Israel, Beer-sheva. At the time of my spring 2019 visit, Beer-sheva was readying itself to house 30.000 engineers, army personnel and startup entrepreneurs, within the scope of Cyberspark. The visit cast a light on the complex but necessary collaboration between academia, government and private stakeholders so as to develop a robust cybersecurity ecosystem. When one makes a deep dive into technological advances and innovations one also learns about the need for developed cybersecurity measures and the deployment of tools for cyber risk reduction ensuring safe internet traffic and activity. All daily and business processes that used to be analogue ones, have to integrate safety measures upon undergoing digital transformation. These cybersecurity measures are critical to ensure the work is safe from cybercrime, scams, hacks and other digital safety threats. That is why joining Global Cyber Alliance seemed like the right step career-wise for me.

In early 2022 when Covid was coming to its close there was a general feeling that our lives shall never be the same again. Not just because of the pandemic, but because of the immense changes in how we worked interacted and engaged throughout the pandemic. Technology reinforced its position and its firm hold over our day-to-day activities and the use of frontier technologies such as cybersecurity accelerated enormously throughout Covid. The old rules of the game – how we interact, how we position our business, how we reach our customers or scale by gaining new audiences were no longer the same and that is because of technology. All of these are operational processes, and it is up to us to ensure how safe and secure they are as they become digital. This need for safety and utilizing frontier technologies for impacting the development of society led me to follow Women4Cyber in early 2022. That is how I came to learn about the academy, the mentorship sessions, and the ever-growing number of Women4Cyber chapters springing across all of Europe. Thanks to the Women4Cyber newsletter and its job corner I found out about an opening within Global Cyber Alliance. Thus, I became the most recent addition to the Partnerships team. As an Associate Director of Partnerships, I have the opportunity to learn about various national and regional cybersecurity ecosystems across the world, map out existing or emerging stakeholders and actors who actively participate in shaping the cybersecurity ecosystem, and work on reducing cyber risks and increasing of cyber security awareness among various entities of the society.

This is where one gets an opportunity to get to know and learn how different ecosystem members are addressing cyber risks. Only by engaging directly in communication with an ecosystem’s most ardent actors can one learn the capacities of state institutions, their national cybersecurity strategy, the interaction, and dialogue that exists, or that is lacking between the private sector, industry leaders, and governmental representatives, not forgetting the proactiveness of the academia in further developing a state cybersecurity ecosystem. An ecosystem’s development is an intricate system that constantly evolves as its actors evolve. Having observed the cybersecurity ecosystems across the Balkans and South Eastern Europe and comparing them against those ecosystems in the Far East,  or, those in the West would highlight three important key metrics that reveal the ecosystem’s maturity: the human capital that the ecosystem can leverage or nurtures, the financial capacity, and the level of collaboration especially between private companies and state institutions in promoting cybersecurity awareness, as well as the development of measurable solutions that reduce cyber risks for citizens in various spheres of society.

The more robust a national cybersecurity ecosystem is, the more information flows freely among the ecosystem’s stakeholders, and the more opportunities for results-driven inter-sector collaboration it brings. There is intricate reliability among state and private actors, and the daily Jane and John Doe when it comes to cybersecurity awareness and actual know-how for cyber safety. This is what Global Cyber Alliance is working on. We are forging alliances with representatives from the global cybersecurity ecosystem from all three sectors: state, private and not-for-profit. GCA develops cybersecurity tools and measurable solutions for a safer internet. Functioning as a neutral convener and a cohesive link on a global level we connect with institutions and organizations that ensure various entities actively and equitably participate in the internet economy. GCA nurtures both top-to-bottom and bottom-up methodology of solution development. The former is where we partner with infrastructure internet operators, where we address systematic cyber risks by detecting and stopping cyber risks at their source. We have created new communities of action made up of cross-border and cross-industry partners focused on the detection of domain abuse and cyberattacks on IoT traffic. The latter is where we empower and equip with relevant digital skills via our cybersecurity toolkits entities that have a pivotal impact on socio-economic development: SMEs, journalists, and mission-based organizations all of whom are perceived as easy targets by cybercriminals.


The GCA toolkit offers tools and up-to-date measures and standards that all these entities can integrate and deploy in their business day-to-day processes which will, in turn, ensure safe operational processes of their work. With our toolkits, entrepreneurs, activists, and professionals working in media and financial institutions commence their cyber hygiene journey and learn how to maintain an adequate level of information security for their information systems. The toolboxes allow the end user to harness the fundamental and necessary level of cybersecurity hygiene and learn actionable steps that will improve cybersecurity within their company or organization. One great success story showcasing the impact GCA has been able to achieve stems from the the work we did in Indonesia. Thanks to our long-time partners Mastercard and the implementing partner organization Mercy Corps we have empowered and equipped over 200.000 small and medium-sized business owners in Indonesia via our SME cybersecurity toolkit with applications and know-how preventing malware infections, accessing malicious domains, as well as protecting their brand and email from cyber intrusions, data loss or corruption, thus ensuring a healthy cyber environment of their internal operational procedures.

On a personal level I have learned even more about cybersecurity norms, existing legislation across various regions and countries, and the problems that have arisen because of lack of resources and even awareness of cyber protection. It is not only a noble cause to help and assist vulnerable groups to become aware but by equipping them with relevant digital tools and skills one becomes an active change maker enabling professionals to have the driving wheel in shaping their organizations and businesses’ operational resilience strategies and help them develop their culture of cybersecurity. Women and girls are an easy target across the Balkans no matter their professional background and they are even an easier target if they hold higher function in society. One way of protecting organizations and individuals is to provide tools and guidance on how to use those that will effectively enable them to protect their scope of work from various types of cybercrime.

Last but not least, what I enjoy the most about working for Global Cyber Alliance is the given freedom to organize my own work tempo. Each day is different. I enjoy complete autonomy while setting up my day-to-day activities. The greatest asset and blessing I would say is the team. With employees from 3 continents, it is indeed diverse and everyone has buckets of knowledge not solely from the field of cybersecurity but other sectors they have previously worked for, from law enforcement, battling organized crime, journalism and external relations, and international development so whenever I go and seek advice from my colleagues especially when it comes to setting the right type of tone in approaching a new potential partner I am able to utilize my colleagues approaches and words of wisdom that stem from the cosmopolitan mindset and culture we have at GCA. I was warmly welcomed from day one by all. Still, I do owe special thanks to my colleagues Terry and Kayle who provided a holding hand and allowed me to shadow them at the beginning so that I learn about the existing internal processes of GCA and also the manner in which we strike partnerships with different stakeholders as we bring about to more cyber-resilient communities across the world.

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