Industry Trends

Fortinet and WiCyS Provide Upskilling and Reskilling Opportunities to Women

By Fortinet | March 13, 2023

The Fortinet Training Institute focuses on increasing access to our training and certifications for security professionals and other talent pools. To further advance this mission and as part of our Education Outreach program, we partner with organizations focused on supporting women and veterans to make our award-winning cyber training available to their members. One of these organizations is Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS).

Through our partnership with WiCyS, Fortinet is sponsoring five female members that participated in the NSE 4 Certification Boot Camp. Fortinet is proud to be covering all expenses for these five women to attend and participate in the annual Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Conference happening March 16–18, 2023, where Fortinet is a VIP Conference Sponsor for the event. Conference attendees will have access to employers and cyber leaders, including conference keynote speaker Sylvia Schlaphof,  Head of Engineering for BOLL Engineering, and a Fortinet NSE 8 certification holder. We recently spoke with Mandeep Brar, one of the recipients of the Fortinet scholarships, to learn about her career pivot into cybersecurity and how WiCyS and Fortinet’s combined resources are helping her advance in her career.

Advancing Women in Cybersecurity

Can you share your previous work experience and current role?

I was 19 years old when I earned my bachelor of arts degree. After migrating to the United States, I started my career working at a small check cashing store. Although this may seem like an unconventional pathway into technology, I gained invaluable interpersonal and customer skills from the variety of jobs I’ve held. Currently, I am an IT equipment coordinator at Amazon and embody several of Amazon's leadership principles such as customer obsession, responsibility and ownership, invention and simplification, proper judgment, trust, and more.

What attracted you to cybersecurity?

Believe it or not, early in my career, I was not a fan of computers. However, as technology and computers continued to play a larger and larger role in society, I realized I too wanted to transform rather than fall behind. I have always been fond of learning new things which led me to reconsider a career in technology. I participated in a cybersecurity analytics boot camp and fell in love with virtual machines, working in the command-line interface (CLI), dissecting traffic in Wireshark (a network protocol analyzer), and inspecting security network configurations.

Can you share your experience with the WiCyS/Fortinet boot camp?

Participating in the WiCyS/Fortinet boot camp has been a greatly beneficial learning experience for me. One of the aspects I enjoyed most about the training courses has been configuring firewall policies, VPNs, SSLs, and more. In my opinion, the course is very well designed. The hands-on practice labs are complex, yet interactive and engaging at the same time. One of the key takeaways from the course is that I have learned a big aspect of network security is all about correct configurations of policies. I am looking forward to utilizing the knowledge I have obtained and taking additional courses to upskill further.

What advice would you give to other women looking to grow or start a career in cyber?

Cybersecurity, being a predominately male-run industry, can understandably be very intimidating at times. But to the best of your ability, try not to let it be. Lean on the other women around you, ask questions when needed, and believe in your abilities. WiCyS and Fortinet have provided me with the opportunity to learn new skill sets and realize how much more I want to continue to learn within the industry. From my first hand experience, I firmly advise women to consider joining the WiCyS organization. Whether you’re completely inexperienced, looking to upskill or reskill, or are simply curious about the industry and what it might have to offer, this is a great first step. Being a member will provide you with the necessary guidance and resources needed to determine your path. Take advantage of the multitude of free online resources to help you learn, grow, and make a difference not only within the industry but for yourself. There is room in cybersecurity for everyone.


Find out more about how Fortinet's Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) and Training Institute programs—including the NSE Certification programAcademic Partner program, and Education Outreach program—are helping to solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.