Go back

Brenda Zikonda

Alumni Story

Brenda is a Zambian born Cybersecurity and IT Specialist. She considers herself a global citizen because of her love of traveling and also, having been raised in Zimbabwe and later settling in South Africa for her undergrad and initial work experience. Brenda is passionate about empowering the girl child and changing the narrative that people have about women in the ICT industry or predominantly male dominated industries. She is an enabler and loves connecting people in a way that they can achieve their goals and purposes. Recently she added podcasting to the list of passions, she co-hosts her podcast called Honeypot Chats, which looks at simplifying Cybersecurity concepts.

Brenda has a combined 10+ years’ experience in ICT and Cybersecurity industry working internationally and locally for multinationals and the Big 4. She is currently working as Cybersecurity Consultant at Deloitte España. Brenda holds a Masters in Cybersecurity from IE University, which she completed in 2018.
POSITION

Cybersecurity Consultant at Deloitte España

Nationality

Zambian

Program studied

MCS 2018

Current Location

Madrid, Spain

Q&A WITH BRENDA

Define your experience in the Master’s in Cyber Security in one word.
Evolvement

Currently you are a mentor at IE Business School for the BBA, how are you helping students as a mentor?
I help by being honest with my experiences when interacting with the students. I believe by being honest, one can manage their expectations. I know my journey is not like others, but if they can learn to do something differently from my experience and thrive then that is a win for me.

What were some of the main challenges that you encountered on your way? How did your master program and IE help you through these challenges?
Some of the challenges that I faced along the way were the following:

Language barrier: Coming from an English-speaking country and having to navigate a new environment in a new language was let’s say a bit tricky! My Masters was in English, but other admin stuff such as opening an account, finding an apartment etc. was not. IE aided through an onboarding team to help with this.

Pilot: My Masters was a pilot and I was part of the first cohort of students. Being the first means that everyone was trying to find their feet and see what worked and what didn’t. The Masters admin team did a good job of communicating any changes with us along the way which made it easier.

If someone was considering going to IE, what would you tell them?
They will get exposed to amazing people of all cultures and backgrounds. The experience will set them up for their professional careers and the alumni network is always willing to help a fellow alumni progress. You are never alone at IE, there is always a tribe behind you.

Why did you choose to study this program at IE?
I was always intrigued when I watch criminal series and movies and with the digital boom, an opportunity arose where people were not practising safe digital practices. Pursuing the Masters in Cybersecurity allowed me to gain a skill that could help eliminate this challenge. IE’s Masters also gave me the balance between the technical and business mix of a masters that I was looking for at the time. The university also had a great reputation and I was looking at relocating and getting some European experience in my industry IE was a good place to start.

What is one thing you wished you knew, when you were a student? What advice would you give to students who are about to begin the program?
I think one thing I wish I knew was Spanish LOL. As much as the Masters was in English, living in non-English speaking country comes with its challenges when navigating. This also extended to my working career in Spain. Desde entonces he aprendido un poco de español LOL.

My advice to students coming is to be open minded and be willing to embrace every experience, positive or negative. There is always something to learn from each experience.

You were recently featured in IE’s Faces of Change and spoke about gender equality in the workplace, can you share what you are doing to bridge the gap?
I am currently involved in many initiatives driving women participation and collaboration both in the work environment and in the communities. I do this through volunteering my time in ways the initiative needs.

What does working in cyber mean for you?
It means being able to change the traditional narrative that women can’t succeed in a male dominated industry. I love a new challenge and Cyber is exciting and is never boring. This industry is always progressing, and new hackers and methods of hacking are always coming up. Lastly, I am a helper and enabler by nature, and I gain satisfaction from helping my clients and peers and ensuring that they get value for their money and provide good services and solutions to their clients.

What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
I would not necessarily call this career advice but just basic human advice:

  • Be authentic, there is only one you in this world.
  • Have integrity because your character will enter a room before you do.
  • Be respectful regardless of the level, everyone deserves to be respected even just on the bases of them being a human being.

What skills would you recommend job seekers develop in order to make them more competitive in today’s workforce?

  • Growth mindset, if you want to be the most intelligent person in the room then you will never learn anything
  • Resilience, life throws you curve balls you should be ready to carry on regardless of what is thrown in your way
  • Integrity, there is quote that goes like: Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. You will be challenged during your career journey, just make sure you are being true to who you are and doing the right thing even if that right thing doesn’t benefit you.

What do you do in your free time?
Currently on of my passions is podcasting. I have a podcast called Honeypot Chats where a friend and I try to simplify cybersecurity concepts. Our target market is Zambia and Africa. Another passion is creating opportunities for women in my industry and giving back to communities in any way I can. I am also a founding member of Walk with Courage Foundation, an initiative and friend and I started that looks at giving school shoes to kids in need in Zambia. Donations are welcome 🙂

TO CONNECT WITH BRENDA, CLICK HERE
CHECK OUT BRENDA’S FACES OF CHANGE VIDEO HERE
LISTEN TO BRENDA’S PODCAST HERE