Corien Vermaak is engaging and energetic. She loved being active with her children and spends time cycling, golfing, swimming and surfing with her two boys. She brings her incredible energy to her role as Cybersecurity Specialist at Cisco, where they say she is a superstar of the team.
What is cybersecurity?
Corien describes her role as: “Helping partners and clients shape the correct solution for their cyber posture using Cisco products. For clients and partners my role impacts how they think about security, as I am challenged to be a thought-leader and trusted advisor.”
She spends her time working with Cisco clients to make sure their digital platforms are secure, so her clients’ clients are also protected. Using the suite of Cisco products, Corien makes sure that she recommends the right technologies for their needs. Every client is different, so every solution is tailored to their needs.
She loves her job and sharing Cisco’s solutions with people.
It’s VERY cool having the opportunity to present and problem solve complex issues always energizes me.”
She also wanted to bust the myth that everything at Cisco or in cybersecurity is heavily specialized. Many roles are business-solutions-focused and can leverage the technical team when needed.
There are a number of roles that are perceived as very technical, and I think it would surprise people to find out that’s not the case.”
Switching into a tech career
Corien has a background in law and transitioned into cybersecurity. She joined Cisco three years ago. They could see how valuable her legal skills and cybersecurity background were in giving their clients the best possible experience. Her path has been unconventional, which makes her able to look at problems from a different angle and find innovative solutions.
Following a law degree, Corien went on to get a double qualification as a Technology-specializing attorney when the cyber bug hit.
I went to specialize in security audit structures and completed my qualifications as a digital forensic auditor. I have a very unique skill set in that I understand the technology but I also understand the legal and compliance structures that govern and drive them.”
Her skills and experience help make her even better at her current job, and Cisco recognizes that about their people.
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Having an impact
Corien uses her cybersecurity knowledge to drive awareness in the broader community, engaging with children and teens to teach them about digital safety. She also helps even the tech playing field through a focus on diversity and inclusion by creating platforms for women in security, such as the Cisco Woman in Cyber. Corien is one of the Global Co-leads and the Leader for Asia-Pacific.
She makes an impact through her cybersecurity education sessions, including a ‘Mums talk safe tech’ webinar for cybersecurity month – all about sharing tips and tricks to keep your kids safe online.
In my community, the ability to give back based on my knowledge has impacted so many young people regarding their digital safety.” Her day-to-day role isn’t without its challenges, but that also gives her ongoing opportunities to make a difference directly with her clients.
[The biggest challenge] would be when you become aware a client is making mistake or putting their technology at risk by doing or not doing something. In many cases we are called in when something possibly catastrophic has happed and then the damage is done.”
But luckily Corien loves solving complex issues, so while the damage might already be done, she can contribute to protecting the client in the future.
People as the key to success
Corien discovered straight away that Cisco see their people as the foundation for their success as a business, and care for them accordingly.
Within my first few weeks I realized I was being valued as a person and not an employee. My development, my learning journey and my well-being was a priority for Cisco.”
Cisco focuses on developing their employees and provide multitude opportunities to learn and grow.
Wow, I have learned and grown so much where to start; firstly, I have learned that there truly is nirvana when it comes to large corporate organizations. As an individual contributor and a task-driven individual, I have also learned the magic of teams and something we live by “win together”. Lastly, I have learned how motivating it can be to work for an organization that drive values that impact global issues.”
Cisco motivates Corien to look to the future and really consider what might be possible. And for herself when she thinks about her future, she shares:
“Don’t let anything box you – you truly can be anything and see things for what they could be not for what they are.