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CBA story

Breaking the cyber ceiling

Breaking the cyber ceiling

Our very own Renae Schilg talks about working in cyber security.

Despite the growing demand and tremendous opportunities in the job market, cyber security remains an area where there is a significant skill shortage. 

In Australian alone, the number of cyber security roles advertised has grown more than 60 per cent over the last 12 months1. Women’s representation in this male-dominated field is also particularly low, with a recent report estimating that only 11 per cent of the world’s information security workforce are female2.  

We talked to Renae Schilg, a member of our Commonwealth Bank (CBA) cyber security team, about her decision to pursue a career in cyber.

Tell us about the nature of your job in the cyber security team at CBA.  What does it involve?

I work as a penetration tester, which basically involves assessing and identifying vulnerabilities in things like websites, mobile apps and networks, so we can help find solutions to increase the overall security of our systems. It’s very challenging, creative and you employ a variety of skills and knowledge to solve problems you face – so for me this is very exciting. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a laptop.

How did you get into cyber security?

I was very curious about cyber security, but had never really considered a career in IT before. Basically the largest push I got to get into cyber security was when someone told me that I couldn’t do it, and that it wouldn’t be for me because I’m female. Basically from that moment, I enrolled into an IT Security degree and didn’t look back! 

Did you face any challenges along the way?

Entry into the cyber security world has been easier than what I thought. Apart from the first individual who discouraged me from entering the field, I don’t feel that I have ever experienced any bias while working in cyber security. I think as a whole, the cybersecurity community is very welcoming and supportive of newcomers – especially when you show an eagerness to learn.  

What word of advice would you give to other women and girls thinking of getting into cyber security? 

I would say, just go for it. In the beginning, it can feel like a very overwhelming area to get into, just with the sheer amount of information available that you feel you need to know straight away. But like everything, as soon as you start to chip away at concepts and getting hands on with it, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to learn and become enveloped in an exciting world.

What is the most valuable experience you've had so far? 

The most valuable experience I’ve had has been joining the current team I’m in at CBA. The growth in my knowledge and skills and the support I’ve received has been irreplaceable.

Commonwealth Bank and cyber security

  • Commonwealth Bank views cyber security as an important national issue and a shared responsibility.
  • In December 2015, we announced a $1.6 million five-year partnership with UNSW to develop a centre of expertise for cyber security education aimed at boosting the nation’s reserve of quality security engineering professionals.

Using the latest tech to attract top talent

  • Commonwealth Bank is leading the way in recruitment, incorporating virtual reality and cutting edge technology in its quest for the best talent.
  • Our virtual reality experience takes place in a 3D replica of the CBA Innovation Lab in Sydney, and features a range of employees in the tech space – from developers to cyber security experts. Our virtual reality experience is now available in the Android and iPhone app stores.
  • Hear more about working in cyber security here.