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Women in Security: Maria Cambria

Women in Security: Maria Cambria Computer programmer found her way to security through IT

Graduating with a computer programming degree, Maria Cambria, VP of demand generation for security, FLIR Systems, Inc. has worked in tech roles ever since. Her first job in the video industry was with a startup called NiceEye, where a mentor of hers worked.

“NiceEye offered video as a service, which was a very new concept 18 years ago,” Cambria remembered, who worked there for several years. “Many years later, we've started to see the IT and security sectors come together, but that's why I've stayed in the security industry, there's something new every day.”

Although Cambria never had a female mentor, she does have a number of female friends in the industry. In fact, she recently spoke with one about the role of women in security. It was through this conversation that she realized how women often limit themselves. “We convince ourselves that we can't do things simply because we're women,” said Cambria. “We need to remind one another what we're capable of — hearing 'you've got this; go for it' is 20 times more powerful coming from a woman than a man. Women supporting women is key. That support system is critical.”

Cambria mentioned Nicole Palumbo, who works at AMAG Technology, as an example to other women to not limit themselves and to work hard. “When she [Palumbo] entered the industry and worked at DVTEL, she was just starting out in her profession,” she said. “Since then, she has worked hard to build a career for herself. Now she's a peer, a friend, and I've been so proud watching her grow. It's inspiring to see women fight hard in their journey's to success.”

Having grown up with three older brothers, Cambria has always been comfortable finding her place within male-dominated settings, and especially comforting to her is the supportive male network she has formed. “In my time, I have been lucky enough to have a lot of male bosses who understood the responsibilities that come with being a working professional and a mother,” said Cambria.

She is also mindful, though, that in today's world there is still something of a stigma about women in the workforce.

“At the end of the day, I'm still a 'minority,” she reflected, which can affect one's self confidence. “At one time, I was one of the only women in the room; in fact, when I started, there were hardly any women at all. However, there was a moment when I decided I wasn't going to be afraid anymore. Once I believed I had something to contribute, my confidence grew, and I wasn't hindered by insecurities. I embraced the security industry and I embraced my own ability.”

Through her realization into self-confidence, Cambria made a decision. “Women supporting women can do a lot to build up people; I have committed my career to being the kind of boss that does this. Inclusiveness is the key to successful integration of women in the workforce.”

Although the security industry has always been male-dominated, Cambria has witnessed a lot of changes throughout the years. Forums have been created to support women in the industry and more women are holding leadership positions. “We've evolved,” she noted. “Now, there are women in the industry of all age groups; it's nice to see a variety.”

To continue to see women grow professionally within the security industry, Cambria encourages women to just go for it. “It's all about finding your people — a network of people you trust and who want to see you grow, male or female.” In fact, Cambria makes time once a quarter to go to dinner with “her people,” aka, her support system: Palumbo, mentioned above; Yaron Zussman from Magos Systems; and Mahesh Makam from Avigilon, all of whom found each other through the industry.

In addition to finding your people, Cambria advised to “get out of your comfort zone at shows and decide to belong to industry associations to make connections and meet people. Ask yourself: 'What would you do if you had no fear? Then, do that.”

“Now there are women in the industry of all age groups and it's nice to see a variety.”

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