Becky Mayse: Women in Technology at Ohio State

Hacking has been a hot topic in the news of recent. Here at Ohio State we have a team of security anyalists who keep university systems safe, data secure and policies updated so your information is right where it should be, and nowhere it shouldn't.

Becky Mayse is a Senior Security Analyst with Enterprise Security whose work teaches us new ways to keep our digital lives safe, whether at school or home. 

As part of our #OSUWomenInTech series, we had a chance to sit down with Mayse to learn more about her daily job, how she stays up on industry news and what technology she is most excited about. 

Can you describe your day-to-day job?

I’m a Senior Security Analyst in the Enterprise Security Risk Management Area and am the functional lead for Security Awareness and Training.  In my role I keep current on cyber security related trends, threats, and regulations that can impact our users or IT environments.  I provide educational opportunities and trainings designed to help protect OSU.  One goal of mine is to provide users with simple things they can do to better protect themselves regardless of if it's at work or home.  

When (and how) did you decide to work in the technology field? 

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t!  I’ve had a lifelong fascination with technology.  As a kid I had to balance my time playing “Oregon Trail” on my family’s Apple IIe, making ham radio contacts with my dad (my call sign is KD8YCW), and naps.  As I got older I realized what a huge impact electronic data would have on my life and that it would shape the future, so I started exploring how to protect it and pondering its value.  Information Security wasn’t typically recognized as a career when I started college but by the time I graduated it was emerging and a natural progression for me.     

What advice can you give young women who would like to take on a position in the technology field? 

The best thing you can be in life is happy, if you think working in technology is something you’d enjoy, go for it!  I think there’s still a lot of stigma attached to a woman being in roles and liking things that are typically male dominated.  In 1997 I was the only woman with an engineering science project in my school’s regional science fair.  Other entrants in the category mocked me that I couldn’t have done it by myself.  I did do it by myself, the judges recognized it, and it felt good taking home 1st place.  Don’t put too much stock in what other people think or let petty-minded individuals bring you down.

The most valuable professional advice I’ve received is to ask for help.  Technology is massive, there’s so many different things and they are constantly changing.  If you’re trying to learn about something but are having difficulties, do all you can, take notes, formulate your questions and ask for help.  I’ve asked many questions to get to where I’m at, and I’ve answered a great deal as well.  You should never fear trying to improve yourself.

How do you stay up-to-date with new trends in the technology world? 

I enjoy engaging with the information security community.  I’m very active with several groups here in Columbus like the local (ISC)2 chapter and InfraGard; these organizations provide a format to connect with others in the field and for us to share information about what we’ve experienced/learned.  I also stay connected to the community on a national scale and frequently attend large conferences where things like new threats, technologies, vulnerabilities, and policies are discussed.  Daily I access online cyber security news sites and blogs.  Twitter is also a very useful source of real time threat intelligence information.  

Learning is a passion of mine, I'm always studying something; a new programming language, operating system, policy, government regulation or anything.  Most of the time I study technology related things, but I’m currently very occupied by accounting and am pursuing a Fisher MBA.

What has been your favorite moment/experience from working in the technology field? 

I’ve been very fortunate to have several big wins in my career, like delivering massive projects or accomplishing a task that seemed impossible.  The thing they all have in common was doing it with a team.  I’ve gotten to work with extremely gifted individuals who battled through the trenches with me, when the mission was accomplished we found we'd become lifelong friends. 

What has been the hardest part of working in the technology field? 

Even if you don’t do anything related to client technology services, you become the “computer person” for your entire family and circle of friends.  I’m close to starting to schedule appointments at gatherings.  They look at you like you have all the answers and are baffled when they describe a problem and you say “hunh, that sounds bad, lets Google it.”  I’m glad to be able to help them, but it’s something I think you should know getting into it!

In a more professional context, the rate of change can be exhausting.  Particular to information security, there are more and more cyber criminals every day; they’re smart, relentless and increasingly well-funded.  The threat is constant.

Is there any technology that you are particularly excited about right now? Why?

I’m most excited by the Internet of Things (IoT) and think that it might make life a lot cooler for all of us soon.  I’m working on a prototype of an IoT window blind, my vision is to be able to remotely open and close the blind for my cats when I’m away then hopefully a later prototype that would enable them to open it on their own.  I can’t wait to have a fully smart house someday; I hope to create a lot of it for myself.  

This feature blog post is part of our #OSUWomenInTech campaign. Hear more stories from female leaders involved in technology at Ohio State by following us on Twitter @TechHubOSU and stopping in store to see our digital signage features. Are you interested in getting involved with technology? Don’t forget to check out our Student Developer Kit and student project development grant opportunities.