Name: Elena Garcia-Mascaraque
Position: Director of Security Service Providers at Watchguard
Date of Birth: August 16, 1974 Sons: two
Hobbies: read, travel, play sports and enjoy a good wine with friends
Studies: Graduated in Economic and Business Sciences; Master in Telecommunications; Digital Business Senior Management Program
Interview with Elena García-Mascaraque, Director of Security Service Providers at WatchGuard
How did you get into the ICT world? I started my professional career during my last year of college through a scholarship at HP, where I was won over not only by direct contact with technology, but also by its culture of permanent innovation and teamwork spirit. I discovered the close link between innovation and technology, and how this link works to build better organizations.
What do you value most about your job?
During my professional career I have been able to develop different technical and managerial skills, in different types of markets and geographies within the ICT field. In this last stage, being in the world of cybersecurity is a constant challenge, with the opportunity to work in a leading multinational like WatchGuard, championing that advanced cybersecurity is accessible to all organizations, and building simplicity on top of an enormously complex environment.
In your opinion, what is wrong so that women do not bet more on the study of STEM careers?
According to the UNESCO report on STEM, only 35% of students enrolled in STEM-related careers in higher education are women and only 3% of female higher education students study ICT. This is worrying. But it is still necessary to change many stereotypes and socio-cultural constructions about the roles of men and women. And this is everyone’s task. We must all get involved and show the little ones, in schools and at home, that there are also great women who were and are great scientists, writers, mathematicians, engineers, astronauts, etc. I am sure that if today’s girls knew better and knew of the existence of all those women who have been benchmarks in all STEM fields, and were given the recognition that is due by society, their contribution to the evolution of current society in which we live, surely there would be more women enrolled studying STEM careers. We need girls to have references, it would be very useful if “there were women influencers also in the field of science and technology” who would play that inspiring role. It is vital to make today’s girls aware that if they do not enter the technological world they can be left out of many things. And this task should start even before high school, when they are girls. Only in this way can it be achieved that these girls also want to play at being engineers or scientists. Apparently, female students seem to lose interest in STEM fields in adolescence and the gap is exacerbated when choosing higher education. This means that it is not a question of breaking the glass ceiling, but of strengthening the pillars, eliminating stigmas and educating from an early age.
Do you think there is a “glass ceiling” in ICT companies? What should be the solution?
The glass ceiling exists in all areas and sectors of the economy. ICTs are no exception. And although more than 40 years have passed since the metaphor of “glass ceilings” was first used, the truth is that there is still much to be done to achieve equality in the workplace. The glass ceiling can only be broken by involving the whole of society. This is not a job that only depends on women, it also falls on politicians, the AA.PP. approving laws that contribute to the promotion of talent without gender, making organizations create work environments where women and men are treated based on their achievements, merits and capacity, and professional trajectory, without prejudice or gender bias. But, above all, it is the responsibility of governments and companies to establish standards, guidelines and equality policies that reduce the salary gap, help reconcile work and family life and facilitate the professional development of women. The glass ceiling for women in the workplace is also given by roles, stereotypes or cultural concepts rooted in time, especially in certain sectors. The work of the educational authorities is essential for the new generations to understand and internalize the need to develop a fair and egalitarian society. In this sense, the youngest are much more aware than previous generations, but there is still much to be done in this regard.
Can a quota policy solve the problem?
I believe that it is a means for gender diversity to be taken into consideration in selection processes, but perhaps before imposing a quota policy, it is worth asking what is really stopping women’s careers and career advancement? There are still many sociocultural factors that are very present in our society and that permeate the workplace. The company culture continues to be predominantly masculinized. It is a culture that needs to be remade from the base, that is, from education, we are not only talking about gender equality, but about the elimination of gender roles, of associating certain professions with being for men or women and putting an end to expectations that society has regarding what is expected of men and women; many women still find themselves in the dilemma of choosing between their professional career and being mothers. According to the INE, 6% of women hold the position of president in Ibex 35 companies, and of that 6% there are only 3 women.
What difficulties did you encounter to get to the position you currently have?
I have developed my professional career for more than 20 years in the ICT sector, where the greatest challenge has been adapting to a completely changing environment, where technology has gone from being a cost component to being a basic asset within business models. business Currently, in the world of cybersecurity we face the challenge that increasingly sophisticated solutions can be provided as a simple and efficient service for any type of organization.
What do you value most about your company regarding the integration of women?
Companies can and have the capacity to promote gender equality and break the glass ceiling by developing and implementing different measures that promote equal treatment and opportunities between men and women in the workplace. At WatchGuard, equality is promoted, promoting a culture free of prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination. We want to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive world, where diversity is a key element for our organization. We have a very active and global WOW (Women of WatchGuard) community that provides us with an environment for sisterhood, learning and self-knowledge for the personal and professional development of the company’s professionals.
35% of students do not manage to finish high school or the equivalent vocational training. Is education the problem of the lack of specialized profiles?
I think they are two different issues, but they could be linked. One is abandonment of studies, and another is the lack of specialized profiles. Possibly young people abandon their studies because they do not see a clear job opportunity, and opt for precarious jobs, to obtain their first income, instead of betting on completing their training and finishing their studies, and thus later, that this allows them to opt for better job opportunities. If this is so, then why don’t we bet on creating FP/University studies/training cycles with specialized profiles that we know are in high demand in the labor market? And in this way, we encourage them to continue studying and training in something that will have an almost guaranteed job opportunity.
Have the studies you did helped you to carry out your current work?
University education is the basis, but even more important is continuous training throughout the professional career, I have never paused my training. We live in an enormously dynamic environment and continuous training is key. At some points in my career it has been more challenging for me to unlearn in order to learn again.
Solve the problem of education in Spain…
Let’s start with two words consensus and future. Reforming the educational system every two or four years, taking into account electoral cycles, is not helping our young people to have better job opportunities. We need a solid educational system, and one that looks to the future, without forgetting the demand of the labor market, especially in the field of ICT.
If you had to advise a young person what to study in order to obtain a stable job future, where would you guide them?
The first thing is a training that implies a personal purpose, that moves your heart and your mind. But at the same time that you take into account that technology is going to be your most powerful tool in any work environment, we have to work hard on technological bilingualism as a vehicular tool in any training plan.
Where do you think the ICT sector is going? In your opinion, what are the trends that are really going to transform society?
Technology must be a fundamental ally for the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), accelerating and making their implementation more efficient. The 2030 Vision association published a report on the main opportunities and challenges for digital technology to promote the SDGs. Its authors estimate that the positive impact of these technologies can generate annual income of 2.1 billion euros. Among the ways in which technology can promote the SDGs are information access technologies, data analysis and collection, new sustainable and decentralized business models, increased financing through digital platforms, new models of reality, and applied robotics
AI, automation, robotics, do you really believe that the future passes through people?
The future passes through people, always. AI, automation and robotics are the means, the tools to make life easier for people. People will not have to compete against machines. The AI will take care of the tasks that we humans are not very good at, and they will do it better. They will be a tool, not the competition. Machines are not capable of transferring what they have learned to other scenarios that catch them off guard as well as humans, who can adapt, make use of logic, creativity, ingenuity and reason in any situation, no matter how new and strange it may be. result. And this is why I believe that the Achilles’ heel of the machines is us humans, and the future is ours.