Last month, we began a series of profiles of women in infosec to try to explore the different voices in the industry. This month’s profile focuses on Michelle Schafer one of the women in infosec profiled in our 119 Twitter Infosec Experts post.

Currently the senior vice president of security practice for Merritt Group, Ms. Schafer has over thirteen years of experience in the information security industry. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications from George Mason University, she worked in media relations for several organizations including PricewaterhouseCoopers. Over the course of the last thirteen years with Merritt Group, Ms. Schafer had become one of the leading voices of women in infosec.

Michelle Schafer, Sr. Vice President, Security Practice, Merritt Group

If you had to choose one event that led you to work in information security, what would it be and why?

Luck! I had been in technology for a few years, mainly focused on telecom and wireless, in a corporate communications role. After spending about a year and a half at an analyst firm, I wanted to try out agency life. Lucky for me, Merritt Group’s one opening for an Account Executive just happened to be in their growing Security Practice. I’ve grown my entire career here at Merritt and built something pretty unique with our dedicated Security Team.

Why do you like working in the information security environment?

What we do in the security field every day is meaningful and impactful. I believe that I’m making a difference in the fight against cyber criminals, even on the marketing side of things. My team has worked with over 70 cybersecurity companies over two decades to help build awareness for solutions that are helping to stop the bad guys. The threatscape is so much more pervasive now – impacting businesses and consumers everywhere – and it’s nice to see that people finally are starting to understand the problem.

If a n00b to the infosec world asked you for a piece of advice, what would it be?

Stick with it. Security threats are constantly evolving so you’ll never be bored in this field.

What is the most important issue facing professionals in the information security landscape today? Why?

We need more cyber warriors – both men and women – and we need them now. There is a dire shortage of information security pros and we need the next generation to step up and help us fight this never-ending battle.

What is the most important issue facing consumers in the information security landscape today? Why?

Consumers need to understand that protecting your own personal data is your own responsibility, not someone else’s. Data protection and privacy should become a way of life – from being mindful of what you post on social media channels to shredding your bank statements to using strong passwords and staying off public wi-fi – you must constantly be thinking about data compromise. Unfortunately for many, security doesn’t become real until it’s too late and your identity is stolen. We need to always be thinking about points of exposure in our daily lives.

What are your three “guilty pleasures” that have nothing to do with information security?

People who know me think of me as the “Starbucks Queen.” Yes, it’s true that I do love a good caramel macchiato! I also am completely sucked into watching The Bachelor series on ABC (yes, even Bachelor in Paradise!) – I probably shouldn’t admit that one! 🙂 Finally, most weekends you can find me in sitting on the bleachers, cheering on my kiddo at his baseball games. Being in infosec is awesome but being a mom is second to none!