Welcome to our Speaker Spotlight series, where we are getting to know some of our past Diana Initiative speakers.

Meet Jordanne “Jai” Barrett, who presented “Status: Ready – Preparing for your next Infosec Role” at our 2019 event.

Jordanne Barrett headshotJordanne is a Technology Risk Analyst for a large financial firm, specializing in Governance, Risk, and Compliance along with Privacy. She’s been in security for about four years now, and in that time has earned CompTIA Security+, SSCP, GIAC GLEG, and a Cybersecurity and Privacy Law certification. Jordanne is currently a graduate student at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) pursuing a Masters in Cybersecurity: Management and Policy.

How did you get started in Information/Cyber Security?
While working as a Technical Support Representative, I asked my boss for a project I could assist with so I could possibly pivot to a non-customer facing role because I felt like I was doing a terrible job answering calls. I did a great job with assisting customers with their technical issues, however, just genuinely did not have the call center voice or personality. It was coming up on two years in the position and I knew for my career I needed to either move up or start searching for a new job to gain relevant skills. The project I was tasked with was to assist the company with becoming PCI certified, which led me to pursuing two security certifications, and leading the company to their first ever PCI Level 1 certification and I was promoted to Information Security Administrator.

Who inspired you, and why were you inspired by that person?
My parents were my inspiration: both are very educated and accomplished amazing things during their careers. Especially my mom, she was always hard working my entire life, I watched her work long hours then go to night classes after work and pushed herself to pursue her Master’s degree, all while raising her daughters. My mom is truly the definition of resilient, I never once heard her complain or seen her give up on anything. A lot of my work ethic comes from my mom, she really showed me you can accomplish anything if you have discipline. I can definitely say some important character traits my mom taught me is her resiliency in any situation and to always act with integrity in everything I do, in both my personal and professional life.

Can you share some challenges you’ve faced in your career?
A major challenge I experienced is imposter syndrome: no matter how many certifications or degrees I pursue, I am constantly feeling I do not know enough or have any skills that I can offer. Oftentimes when you lack the confidence that shows, others can see it physically and they can hear it in your voice which I felt like resulted in a lot of missed opportunities.

Having to tailor my personality to make others feel comfortable: oftentimes as a black woman in the corporate world, character traits that may be normal to you are not reflected the same way to others. I feel like I can’t be myself, if I am too quiet I am seen as stand-off-ish; if I use the wrong tone I am seen angry/aggressive; it can be hard functioning day to day when your personality is always being critiqued. Mind you, I am aware I have an intense personality, however, I do not want to be forced to act like my co-workers just so I can keep a job.

What advice would you give other BIPoC looking to enter this field?
Have Discipline & Be Willing to Work – Nothing great comes by just waiting for things to happen to you. The Security field requires hours of learning, continuous learning, and having patience. Be disciplined enough to put in the hours to study for your certification and learning new skills.

Stay Ready – Never get comfortable or complacent in your position, be prepared for that lay-off or if your dream company finally posts the job you want. Don’t wait for your company to train you or give you an opportunity, make a way for yourself whenever possible. Create your own projects to help you learn, pay for your own training (if possible), just always be prepared for your next move, be proactive not reactive.

Believe in Yourself – It can be discouraging trying to get into this field, which may lead you to start feeling discouraged about yourself and knowledge. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you too, radiate that confidence and show up like you know your stuff.

Master a Topic – Being a “Jack of All Trades and a Master of None” will leave you very unhappy in this field. Choose what you enjoy, and master that topic, don’t try to do too much because it will be hard for you to find your value.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
In your career pursuit, make sure to take care of yourself, remember it is a marathon it is not a race. Take time with yourself and your career journey. Do not rush into anything, it is different strokes for different folks. Do not force yourself to be in a certain position you are not ready for because you haven’t prepared yourself. Do not compare yourself to others and do not be afraid to ask for help.


Thank you Jai for taking the time to share these thoughts and tips. If you’d like to connect with Jai, she can be found on Twitter @jaidbarrett