From Leisure Management to Cybersecurity: Ann Fonseca Jørgensen’s Journey

In the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, individuals with a diverse range of skills and backgrounds are carving out successful careers. We had the privilege of speaking with a Danish cybersecurity professional, Ann Fonseca Jørgensen, who shared her unique journey and shed light on the challenges and triumphs she encountered along the way, leading her to her current role as Senior IAM (Identity and Access Management) Specialist at Truesec. 

The Inspiration Behind a Cybersecurity Career

Born on Fyn, Denmark, Ann embarked on a remarkable career path that was guided by a series of somewhat unexpected turns. Initially led by her passion for concerts and festivals, she pursued a bachelor’s degree in leisure management in Roskilde and The Netherlands. However, the student job she had at that time, at a games company, opened her eyes to the world of IT and technology, sparking in her a new interest. Hence, when asked about the motivation behind her choice to pursue a career in cybersecurity, Ann shares how her experiences and interactions in the gaming industry unveiled this new field:
“I basically was interfacing a lot with developers, and I realized I hadn’t even thought about IT as a career, I was thinking of it as something off-limits. But it didn’t seem that hard, so I knew I could also do this!” 

Recognizing the potential in IT, Ann moved back to Denmark to further pursue her studies, completing a Master’s Degree in Business and IT at Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen. She had a passion for digital privacy and ethics, and realized that cybersecurity was not an elusive field. Rather, it was a natural fit for her skills and interests, and this drove her to delve deeper.

During her master’s, Ann secured a student job at ISS, where she wrote her master’s thesis in collaboration with the IT department. This experience positioned her well for her application to a graduate program at NNIT, where they at the time had a specific program for cyber security. Referring to the graduate program Ann says: 

“I thought it was a really nice program where you could try different positions and different tasks – because cyber security is huge right? You can do anything within it! So, trying out a lot of different things to see which elements I really liked, it was a fantastic opportunity.”

Ann realized that for her it is the thrill of creating something tangible that makes her so passionate about her career. As much as she enjoys renovating furniture in her free time, she loves building digital solutions in her day-to-day work, especially because it makes a real difference.  

Overcoming Challenges & Tackling Diversity 

One of the initial hurdles Ann faced was breaking free from the notion that IT careers were inaccessible. 

“The first major challenge was even thinking about having IT as a career. I am really happy to see that things are changing a bit, I think it was much less common in my generation, and now people are quite aware that there is space and there is a need.”

Another challenge she discusses with us is having the feeling of being ‘chosen’ at times (for projects, talks and so forth), and wondering whether that is because of the diversity group she represents, more than her actual skills. Dealing with this feeling of self-doubt isn’t easy, but Ann shares with us that having a network of people who faced or are facing similar challenges, is the key to start overcoming it, and realize that this notion of ‘imposter syndrome’ is common, but it is not serving anyone.

Fostering a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion

When discussing the significance of diversity and inclusion within the cybersecurity field, Ann highlights the positive impact of diverse teams on creativity, problem-solving, and overall outcomes. She emphasizes that embracing diversity is not just about business profitability but also about creating a more enjoyable and fulfilling workplace. Ann’s company actively focuses on fostering diversity by considering factors such as gender, national background, age, and abilities, and are currently working on strategies to accommodate more neuro-diverse employees.

As a final remark before concluding the interview, Ann shares a practical advice for everyone who is trying, wishing, or dreaming of entering the cyber security field:

“Don’t be scared to use your network! Realize that you are not the only one getting something out of that interaction, you are also giving something back, as you are telling them that they stand out and that they are so talented in their field that they are being reached out to for help. Put some effort into the communication and show that you are respectful of their time and that you have specific questions. Everyone does it all the time so you should as well!!”