Over the last few years, competitive pressure to offer consumer-focused banking access, as well as opportunities for increased internal efficiency, have led to a surge in text usage across the financial services industry. In fact, major banking corporations like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Chase are all offering SMS text and banking apps to expedite communications and transactions with their customers. While certainly an improvement to convenience and efficiency, financial institutions should strongly consider the potential ramifications of native SMS texting and instead implement a more secure, compliantSEE DETAILS

Patient care requires fast-paced, asynchronous collaboration that ensures quick responses for life-saving decisions. Because text is the most rapidly responded to communication channel utilized today, many healthcare professionals communicate and collaborate via their mobile device. In fact, a recent HIMSS Analytics study reported 70.6 percent of IT professionals, clinicians, C-suite executives, and department heads use smartphones for EHR access, and 76.5 percent access clinical information through smartphone apps. However, according to Lisa Gallagher, vice president of technology solutions for HIMSS, text messaging by clinicians is a major source of protectedSEE DETAILS

Due to the nature of care required for elderly LTC patients, it has become common for family members to play an integral role in long-term care for patients at home, during the transition between facilities, and even in healthcare decision making. In fact, 65.7 million family members have become caregivers who provide care to someone who has aged, is ill or disabled in the United States.This support can be extremely beneficial to both the patient and the family, as numerous studies, including a recent report from Johns Hopkins Evidence-Based Practice Center (JHUEPC),SEE DETAILS

Secure technology gives providers new options to successfully support patient outcomesIn the health care industry, patient care is the number one priority. Whether a patient is undergoing a routine medical procedure, managing a chronic illness or needs ongoing care due to a disability—the quality and effectiveness of any patient’s care is a collaborative effort. As such, care teams—from doctors and nurses to the patients and their caregivers—need the ability to communicate efficiently, effectively, privately and securely to ensure the highest level of service. Unfortunately, the ability to have these criticalSEE DETAILS

In December 2016, The Joint Commission announced its decision to continues its ban of secure messaging as a means for clinicians to place patient care orders. This ban essentially reverts back to the same standards for patient care orders that were set into place in 2011 – despite the technological advances that have been made in secure messaging applications over the past six years. Also in spite of medical professional’s use of less secure means to communicate.  The timing of the decision added to the confusion, since the texting ban had previously been lifted in May 2016 and then swiftly put back in place while under further review in July 2016.

Per the most recent December announcement, The Joint Commission, together with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), cited concerns about doctors using secure text messaging for orders, including potential delays and the additional steps required for clinical staff to input messaged data into electronic health records (EHR). The newsletter noted that clinicians should use the preferred method of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) so that providers can input orders into the EHR, or, under extenuating circumstances, orders should be placed verbally.

Though The Joint Commission’s concerns are justified, considering the healthcare industry is one of the most targeted sectors for cyberattacks, its latest statement against secure text orders for patient care is unreasonable, based on advances in today’s secure messaging platforms. With proper implementation, modern secure messaging platforms not only dispel The Joint Commission’s concerns, but go one step further by proactively addressing security threats that weren’t included in the recent announcement. Further, they can actually provide significantly greater benefits to efficiency and compliance, both greatly sought after in healthcare today.  

In fact, secure messaging platforms can address all three of The Joint Commission’s stated concerns, as outlined below:

1) The implementation of an additional mechanism to transmit orders may lead to an increased burden on nurses to manually transcribe text orders into the EHR.

On the contrary, today’s secure messaging technology can seamlessly integrate into a hospital or healthcare organization’s EHR, which allows for comprehensive documentation to the patient record and full archival. This process improves overall efficiency by eliminating the unnecessary step of having to manually transcribe orders, allowing for clinicians to focus on patient care. As an added benefit, secure messaging platforms offer PHI, PII, and IP protection and ensures the privacy of patient records.

2) The transmission of a verbal order allows for a real-time, synchronous clarification and confirmation of the order as it is given by the ordering practitioner.
As the process for texting an order is an asynchronous interaction, an additional step(s) is required to contact the ordering practitioner for any necessary discussion prior to order entry.

By its very nature, verbal dialog is highly susceptible to miscommunication caused by outside factors, misunderstandings or forgetfulness after conversations. Instead, secure messaging platforms provide communication-intensive healthcare organizations with a written transcription delivered in real time that can be easily reviewed by both parties, referred back to after discussions take place, and recorded in an encrypted format that meets compliance standards.

3) In the event that a CDS recommendation or alert is triggered during the order entry process, the individual manually entering the order into the EHR may need to contact the ordering practitioner for additional information. If this occurs during transmission of a verbal order, the conversation is immediate. If this occurs with a text order, the additional step(s) required to contact the ordering practitioner may result in a delay in treatment.

Patient care requires fast-paced, asynchronous collaboration that ensures rapid response for life-saving decisions. In any situation when patient orders or recommendations need further clarifications between two parties, then further dialog – whether written or in person – will be required. Relying on verbal conversations can cause delays due to the steps needed to track someone down by phone or in-person. By having a written record of what was discussed, miscommunication can be quickly identified and errors and alerts can be managed expediently. Also, as time is of the essence in patient care, it should not be understated that text is the most rapidly responded to communication channel that is utilized today with a 98 percent open rate and 45 percent response rate, drastically outpacing both email and voice.

The Joint Commission indicated it will continue to monitor advancements in healthcare to determine “whether future guidance on the use of secure text messaging systems to place orders is necessary.” Considering there are platforms already available that offer secure, ephemeral and compliant messaging to healthcare organizations, we expect The Joint Commission will soon catch up with advances in technology and reverse its stance yet again – this time with confidence, knowing that secure messaging platforms are more secure than SMS texting and more expedient than verbal communications.

(Article originally published in Healthcare Innovations and Technology News and Views by Galina Daskovsky March 20, 2017)

HiMSS – a tech-enabled vision of health potential.  As health spending approaches 20% of the US GDP, health Technology innovation has become a visible lever for its curtailment. At this annual HiMSS event those with comfortable shoes could see a plethora of ways to improve outcomes, lower costs, change behaviors, engage patients, streamline the back office processes, about telehealth, confronting the onslaught of security breaches, sessions on population health, healthcare transformation and improved care delivery workflow.  This was an opulent show, spanning a 1300-participant exhibit hall with major player (anchor)SEE DETAILS

Q&A With Vaporstream CEO Galina Datskovsky on critical risks and compliance. Today we bring you an interview between Maurice Gilbert, CCI’s CEO, and Galina Datskovsky, CEO of Vaporstream, a leading provider of secure and compliant messaging offering best-in-class infrastructure enabling companies to meet complex bring your own device (BYOD) and information governance requirements.Maurice Gilbert: How did you get started on a career in compliance?Galina Datskovsky: At my first software company, we were writing a record management application that required in-depth information governance knowledge, and I decided to learn everything I possibly couldSEE DETAILS

7 Principles to ConsiderAt least 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced daily, from emails to documents and everything in between. As information used for daily business is converted into digital files at a rapid pace, organizations across industries have been driven to create policies that guide how information is managed. These frameworks help to effectively support record-keeping, answer compliance needs and ensure data availability for e-discovery in today’s digital world. Information governance is one such accepted discipline, ensuring a reasonable level of security for records and information that requiresSEE DETAILS

There is no doubt about it; the cloud is here to stay. According to Forbes 2015 Tech Roundup, more than 60% of enterprises will have at least half of their infrastructure on cloud-based platforms by 2018. And by 2019, according to “Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2014–2019,” 86% of workloads will be processed by cloud data centers, leaving only 14% to be processed by traditional data centers.Cloud Basics Before an organization can wisely select cloud services providers and applications, its information governance (IG) professionals must understand the relevantSEE DETAILS

Today’s fast-paced, mobile world offers a myriad of solutions to help users communicate instantly. According to Pew, texting is the most widely used app on a smartphone, with 97 percent of Americans using it at least once a day. This comes at no surprise as text messages have a 98 percent open rate and a 45 percent response rate, according to recent studies. This is compared to the 22 percent open rate and 6 percent response rate of email. In addition, many have turned to free applications such as WhatsApp, Snapchat or dozens ofSEE DETAILS

Identifying and recruiting new talent is a core responsibility of HR teams and hiring managers that requires extensive communication both internally and externally. Keeping the breadth of communication and the confidential details discussed private during recruiting creates a challenge for HR teams—as well as potential new hires. During recruitment, secure communications protect both the recruiter and the potential new hire. This especially rings true when HR teams are recruiting individuals that are employed at competitor companies. Recruiters need to keep the conversation with these candidates confidential, either because the potentialSEE DETAILS

The following is part two of a two-­part series addressing outside counsel’s vulnerability to email­related cyberattacks and breaches. Part one discussed the specific legal and IT risks that law firms’ face when communicating with clients with inadequate data protection. In corresponding with clients via email, law firms expose themselves to an array of risks, including data breaches, unauthorized use of privileged content and cyberattacks on their own servers and systems. And in the face of recalcitrant or unable clients, the responsibility of securing email communications and all its related risksSEE DETAILS

M&As Leave Much Room for Data Leaks. Vaporstream’s Galina Datskovsky Talks Securing Communications When Closing the Deal.

When it comes to being vulnerable for a breach, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) tend to leave many doors open, creating great potential for highly-confidential information to get in the wrong hands. The leaky-nature of M&As is partially attributable to “human nature,” says Galina Datskovsky, CEO of secure messaging app service Vaporstream. In a conversation with Legaltech News, Datskovsky explained that people often email parties they shouldn’t be contacting about M&A deals, such as family members that might have investing interests based off a deal’s implications or colleagues not involved in the deal but from whom they would like to get feedback. Many companies have turned to enterprise communication tools, such as Slack, which are downloaded by end users, and often they leave information vulnerable. “The only way to limit who actually knows about the M&A is to keep the information about it to the most limited amount of people you can,” Datskovsky added. “And generally that is not easy to do with the tools we use today.” Yet communication is core to M&As, and thus “lots of chatter” between the multiple parties involved must occur. “You need the chatter; you need to discuss the terms of the deals,” such as parameters, people in the organization, etc., Datskovsky explained. Unfortunately, most of this communication occurs over standard office email, and thus the chatter can easily be exposed. “It’s just the nature of the beast.” So how to secure? Datskovsky has some practical tips for being more secure in your M&A communications:

1. Control Your Content: Sending is Not the End

How often have you sent an email that, moments later, you wished you hadn’t? Whether filling the recipient field with the wrong address, clicking “send” too quickly, or suddenly realizing your recipient shouldn’t have this information, we’ve all been there. Wish you had a “retract message” button? Certain enterprise tools allow this, so long as the recipient has yet to open it. This can be particularly handy for M&A communications. Privy parties need to prevent forwarding of messages “so somebody can’t say, ‘Oh, I think this would be useful to get the opinion of X, Y, Z, and let me just forward this,” Datskovsky noted. Additionally, senders “want to be able to control who sees , how they see it, and what they can do with it,” which can be done with certain apps, she added.

2. Too Little Too Late: Maintain an Expiration Date for Content

Often, documents can linger in storage, forgotten about once they’re no longer immediately useful. However, as many know, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. By setting an expiration date for a message, you are “limiting distribution through channels,” Datskovsky said. “The more you limit the conversation … the more you are likely to limit leakages and inappropriate distributions.” 

3. Don’t Forward the Master: Copies are Key

It’s important to draw a clear distinction between a master document and its copies. This distinction is important to adhere to in emails as well, for in the digital age, sending a master document could lead to unintended edits to a document, hugely problematic for M&As. While you’ll need to keep a master copy for record keeping, sending copies in PDF format for review limits security risks. In the event of a breach, “it’s one thing to have a copy and another to have the content walking around across the board on devices that belong to your organization and any outside entities,” Datskovsky explained. Overall, Datskovsky says that while many rely on the encryption of an enterprise messaging app for protection, that alone isn’t enough. “You’re not going to get that benefit of expiration and forward prevention. You need a greater sense of control.”

(Article originally published on Legaltech News by Ian Lopez, August 15, 2016.) 


BYOD policies, or Bring Your Own Device policies, allow employees to use and access company information on their personal devices. You can send messages to coworkers on your personal phone’s Slack app, between right swipes on Tinder. Instead of staying at the office all night, you can download corporate reports onto your home computer. For many, BYOD policies are great. They give employees a bit more freedom to work where and when they want, on the device that’s most convenient. For employers, the policies eliminate the need to provide workersSEE DETAILS

Beyond encryption, mobile e-discovery faces challenges with data retention, inaccessible custodians and ineffective BYOD policies

For all the ways technology has revolutionized discovery, the advancement of mobile devices has almost stopped it dead in its tracks. Though the FBI’s legal battle with Apple is a pivotal moment for mobile e-discovery, the challenges of this practice go beyond recalcitrant manufacturers and encryption. For mobile devices are never used in a vacuum, and during discovery requests, attorneys have to consider everything from privacy regulations and organizations’ “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies to each single data custodian’s specific station.”

On a very simple, basic level, if you have to discover information, and that information happens to be on mobile devices around the organization,” said Galina Datskovsky, CEO of Vaporstream, “one of the challenges you clearly face is getting the device to come back into the organization to begin with. And that can be quite a challenge.”

Given corporate servers and cloud infrastructure, however, there are inevitably times when “discovery doesn’t have to go back to your device, because I’m creating a record and putting it in my secure archive, and that’s where I’m going to go to pick up the data,” Datskovsky added.

But the reality is far more complex, for not all mobile e-discovery data and apps are made to sync up to external servers. “The devices are unique,” Datskovsky explained, because “there are things that only reside as mobile apps, like, for instance, text and chat or certain apps that may be apps that only reside on the device,” and save data locally.

This in turn makes discovery a uniquely manual experience, where much depends on the data custodian’s ability or desire to give up the device. This can make for a difficult situation, “especially if it happens to be an employee who left or quit or is not cooperative. And, yes, there are subpoenas and things you can issue but it just makes the processes fairly difficult,” Datskovsky said.

“What’s interesting is that to actually collect the device one literally just has to ask the person for its password,” said Adi Eliott, vice president of market planning at Epiq Systems. He added that the discovery process largely relies on custodian interviews, such as those “asking them what do you use to talk about business, what apps you discuss this matter or this situation on, and then you have to physically get their device, and that container has all the corporate data. Then on which apps to use to talk about business, primarily like email. If there’s an internal instant messenger app that’s officially sanctioned, use that, etc. The problem is that it’s not necessarily how humans work. The friction that is required to record and communicate is almost nonexistent,” Eliott explained.

“Even anecdotally if you think about it, if you and another person you know have WhatsApp, whether you’re talking about personal or business, you’re highly likely to fall into WhatsApp, if that just happens to be something you use because, there’s no friction to it and you both have the app,” he said.

Additionally, “We don’t compartmentalize our communications anymore between business and personal,” Eliott said. “Socially, I’m more likely to be doing something personal at work and I’m definitely more likely to be doing work on my personal time and asking us to compartmentalize by app is largely a human and a social challenge more than it is an e-discovery challenge.”

Privacy, By Any Other Name

The blurred lines between private and business data create situations where “if there is discovery done on a device that is owned by to the corporate network and you sign something that said generally that the corporation has access to it, people don’t question that largely.

“And part of this is just social and the way Americans think, they are very likely to give up their password when asked and let their device be collected from. And in Europe it very much has to be contemplated deeply because and there are some cases that have been decided about who has the right to the phone and the privacy rights… but it’s still an emerging set of cases that we are seeing.”

Eliott added that with privacy issues, “in the U.S., things are evolving… It’s being talked about more,” especially after the Apple and FBI legal battle.

“The conversations are being raised in a way in which they before, and my opinion is that when you see conversations raised like this, there are generally downstream consequences from the consciousness shifting on an issue. And we don’t yet know what that is going to be,” he said.

(Article originally published in Legaltech News by Ricci Dipshan on June 9, 2016)

Cyberthreats Abound, Lawyers are Increasingly Called Upon to Improve Mobile Security and Secure Their Clients’ Information. Vaporstream’s Galina Datskovsky Talks Taking Security Mobile.

As mobile continues to repurpose the way we communicate in our daily lives, it also changes the ways we share our business information. This had led to a number of challenges, touching upon everything from the conflation of the professional and the personal to leaving valuable and sensitive data accessible to those who seek to exploit it. Vaporstream’s CEO Galina Datskovsky is no stranger to this reality. Having worked in information governance and compliance for over two decades, her experience has versed her in the nuances of law firm data security as well as attorneys’ perceptions to these technology-fueled changes. She told Legaltech News that the mobile market is currently, in many ways, “where email used to be twelve years ago.” “Law firms are usually slow adapters of new technology,” she said. “I distinctly remember when emails sort of first started taking hold everywhere else.” Attorneys would say “I don’t get this whole email and Blackberry thing.” Nevertheless, she explained that “the mobility practice of the mobile lawyer” is “really important” in the modern Big Data environment, a place where law firms, overseeing sensitive client information, are more vulnerable than ever before. With mobile, the stakes are elevated. In demonstrating how law firms may react to mobile security, Datskovsky discussed an experience in which she provided data governance and policy consulting for a law firm, where the topic of texting was an issue. “I said, ‘Well what about text and chat? What do your attorneys do? And none of the people in the firm said, ‘Wait a minute, our policy strictly says right here that that’s not allowed.’ I said, ‘How’s your compliance with that policy,’ and they said, ‘Well, everybody texts.’” When asking about the company policy, “the answer I got that kind of blew my mind, although what’s very typical of law firms again, is that, ‘If it’s in the policy that we can’t, then we can defend ourselves by saying it’s not sanctioned,” she noted. “Really, it’s in your policy but everybody does it, and you know everybody does it, you think it’s going to be secured?” “In particular, with the kinds of breaches that we saw in law firms I think this is going to become a front and center issue because it’s mobile security,” she added. “And coupled with device governance and compliance,” mobile policies “make the firm safer in general.” Here are some of Datskovsky’s tips for law firms to improve their mobile security:

1. Accept it – Everyone is Mobile. Enact Policies That Reflect This Reality.

In Datskovsky’s view, mobile security is something that comes “in various shapes in forms,” and when considering this, it’s important to differentiate securing the device from the lawyer using it. A first step in getting the firm more secure is accepting that “lawyers clearly have mobile phones.” Thus, “there should be very, very clear guidelines and policies on how a device should be secured. And this could be some very simple things, like everybody has to have a pin and a password, to everybody must encrypt all data on the device, to making sure that there is a mobile device management application in place where the policies are actually pushed to the device by the IT department, so it’s not optional. It’s not up to the lawyer. It’s up to the firm.” Getting the firm to observe the policies, she explained, is “very realistic, but only if the people who are in charge of policies – IT, general counsel – really take the  time to think it through to make it almost seamless for the attorney. Otherwise, I don’t think you can get compliance.” “I don’t think it’s realistic to have a policy in place that says, ‘do not touch.’ Because people will do it anyway. I think is frankly a naïve to approach things,” she added.

2. Take Back Control – in the Form of Mobile Device Management.

While there are a number of ways to theoretically secure a lawyer’s device, sometimes it’s advisable to place the task in IT’s hands. As previously noted, one route comes in the form of mobile device management applications. Datskovsky said in using this, “‘I could push my security practices and policies then in general manner to everybody.” Additionally, “I feel more comfortable with having a bring your own device (BYOD) policy if such a play is in place because in that case, I could separate the partition the personal and the business, and I don’t have to worry about the personal being unlocked and somebody seeing the personal.” This is important, she added, “because a lot of the breaches happen not because somebody hacks … but because somebody is careless.”

3. Keep the Personal Personal – Know What’s SFW

Given that many lawyers can now work from any location at any time, it’s fairly easy to enmesh the personal with the professional. However, some methods of communication are more suitable for work than others. To demonstrate this, Datskovsky pointed to text messaging. “I would never think that texting in my normal native form of text is appropriate for business,” she said. This is partially because, often, it isn’t necessary for a task you’re undergoing, and furthermore, it’s not always encrypted in transit. Also, upon sending, the sender has no control of the text. “If I send you a text, you could forward that to anybody, you could put it on Facebook. Whatever you do, I have no control over it.” “If you look to secure text, especially a text that can be ephemeral in the sense of control and disappear from devices, we can secure those types of communications much better,” she said. This means that some communications may be better for email, and by using it, there is “a single source of truth, a single copy of records of which you could search, you can go for e-discovery to and for completeness of records to without sacrificing privacy and security.” However, Datskovsky also warned, “Not everything belongs in a mail box in a system where I don’t know how readily available for available for the mobile worker to get to what they need without having to permanently store at the device level.” “I think with mobility, you have to think in those terms. You have to think about governance and compliance, you have to think about convenience, but you also have to think about the fact that not everything belongs on your mobile device, not everything belongs there forever,” she added.
(This article was originally published by Legaltech News by Ian Lopez on May 27, 2016)


Why are there so few women in tech leadership roles?

According to a recent Reuters study, 30% of 450 technology executives stated that their groups had no women in leadership positions. Only 25% of the IT jobs in the US were filled by women and considering the fact that 56% of women leave IT in the highlight of their career, it’s no surprise that there’s so few women leading the tech industry.

30% of 450 technology executives stated that their groups had no women in leadership positions

The value of having women in leadership is common sense – women make up half of the purchasing demographic so having limited or no representation of women leading companies can make them miss out on valuable insight. This common sense is backed by a study by a DDI consulting firm that found the top 20% of top-performing companies had 27% or more women in key leadership positions while the bottom 20% of companies had less than 19% of women in these roles.

I asked women in leadership roles to share their experience in the tech space, everything from why they chose a career in tech to perks/challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry to advice for young women considering tech as a career. Thank you to Becca Stucky, Director of Demand Generation at tech company Thycotic; Katie McCroskey, Senior Manager Channel Operations at Thycotic; Karen Nowicki, director of engineering for a Chicago-based software company called kCura; Diane Merrick, VP of Marketing at Teradici; Robbie Hardy, tech sector veteran, and author of the new book UPSETTING THE TABLE:  Women Mentoring Women; and Dr.Galina Datskovsky, CEO of Vaporstream for contributing to this episode.

Advice to young women considering tech

Brush up on your math.

Becca Stucky, Director of Demand Generation at tech company Thycotic, says that math skills are critical. “Tech companies move fast, and to know you’re making the right choices, you need to be able to read trends and metrics for how your initiatives perform – this is true not only for marketing, but also for making choices for product features or UX, running tech support and client happiness teams, and even working across teams and explaining to other managers why your team is making certain choices.”

Diane Merrick, VP of Marketing at Teradici agrees with Stucky, adding “Don’t be intimidated by math and science.  Ask questions. Sometimes the problem is the teacher, not the subject.  You may need to explore other sources of learning.” Merrick also recommends young women check out the option of a co-op degree where you’re guaranteed work after graduation. “It is a fantastic way to help you discover what you like and maybe more importantly what you don’t like,” she says.

Know your worth

For Katie McCroskey, Senior Manager Channel Operations at Thycotic, it’s important for young women to know their value. “Women bring a lot to a tech company – different perspectives and skill sets, tech companies with more women are more successful and it’s a hot industry to be in, good paying jobs with lots of diversity in focus (dev, cybersecurity, ops, etc.) and opportunity. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by a room full of men.”

Become a life-long learner

Karen Nowicki, director of engineering for a Chicago-based software company called kCura, says that women in tech need to become life-long learners. “Make learning part of your commitment to yourself and keep looking for new ways to grow. Technology is an especially fast-paced career. Not only will you find the domain changing quickly, but career growth also demands being proficient in each new role. Joining user groups in your industry and national societies to keep current are just a couple ways to stay sharp.”

Go for it

“There are so many options open to you when you go into a tech career,” says Dr. Galina Datskovsky, CEO of Vaporstream. “It is not just programming or coding – the options are unlimited. You should never be afraid and never think that the guys are better at it then you.  You are capable of the same and more.  So, just go for it.”

Standing Out

Robbie Hardy, tech sector veteran, and author of the new book UPSETTING THE TABLE:  Women Mentoring Women, says that young women should consider tech because they’ll stand out. “Technology is a great career for smart women who like a challenge and lots of opportunity. While it has been a male-dominated Wild Wild West for years, it is changing. An increasing number of women are embracing STEM, which is the basis of most technology careers. These women “stand out” and therefore their talents and integrity are more exposed than a man. This has both pluses and minuses, but if you understand that you must not take no for an answer and take your rightful seat at the table of technology (upsetting the table, as I like to say), you will succeed.”

Choosing a career in tech

Solving real-world problems

For Stucky, she enjoyed the idea of working for a company making lives better was a big motivation for her to enter the tech space. “In tech — and software specifically — if you can imagine it then you can make it. There are very few limits to what people can do when given a computer and the knowledge to code. I find that very inspiring. Software can make people’s lives easier, it can make work more productive, companies more secure, and it can connect people all over the world. Productivity is something I get especially excited about. I absolutely hate doing something if I know it can be done faster, with less steps, or if I can automate it. Even though my own coding skills are mediocre at best, I get to be part of an industry of problem solvers, idea-dreamers, and of virtual builders, who are creating entirely new markets and tools that the world never considered before now, but once made, could not imagine living without.”

Happy accident

Not everyone starts out with a desire to join a tech company. “My tech career began by accident,” McCroskey said. “I joined Thycotic seven years ago with a background in marketing and grew my technical knowledge and background as the company grew; now I love the challenge of constant change and teaching myself new technical topics, this constant quest for knowledge keeps me driven and engaged.”

Hardy also stumbled into tech on accident. “The technology world chose me. I was a research assistant at UNC Chapel Hill, putting my husband through his PhD program, and in order to do my job I had to learn to use technology to analyze the data we had collected. It was certainly challenging, because I am not a math and science person by nature, but once I unlocked the door to all that was possible with those 1s and 0s, I was hooked for life,” she said. “I found my sweet spot in technology management. My experience in those days as a research analyst and beyond, gave me the technology foundation I needed to be successful in managing it.”

Creating a shared vision

For Nowicki, knowing how to earn respect from an early age is a critical part of a tech career. “In high school, I became president of a rifle club and it was my first foray into leadership. I had to earn respect to get the role and incorporate everyone’s feedback to shape the program in a positive way. In college, I picked up computer science and led a national mathematics honor society where I put on a national math convention. Throughout the process, I got the hang of how to collaborate effectively and make decisions that were best for the group,” she said. “I’m also a volunteer coach for an Olympic-style junior air rifle club and there are very few female coaches.  When I take the students to tournaments, the other coaches and attendees are sometimes surprised to see me. They perceive the sport to be male-dominated and have to shift how they think, so we can work together effectively. From a leadership standpoint, volunteering has taught me that you have to appreciate and maximize the unique passions and talents that everyone brings to the table and work with people of all different skill levels and backgrounds to create a shared vision.”

Ground breaking field

For Datskovsky, the opportunity to be in a revolutionary space like tech was too attractive to resist. “I always liked exact sciences and found that computer science gave the right mix of science, technology and human interaction, as well as the ability to work in a ground breaking field that is constantly changing and evolving.”


Being in an innovative space is what drew Merrick to a career in tech. “I began my career as a civil structural engineer in Ontario, Canada – a technical career but not in the “tech space”.  There are several things that intrigued me about the tech space:  The pace of innovation.  The openness to do things differently.  A lesser degree of prejudice – good ideas seemed welcome from anyone regardless of age or sex. 

The tech space is also a very global industry and it afforded me the opportunity to not only move to California but to travel the world.”

The challenges facing women in tech

Finding the right company

Not all women have faced challenges in their tech career. For Stucky, she says that a good company culture can make all the difference. “I give most of the credit for my personal experience to Thycotic, and our founder Jonathan Cogley’s focus on hiring good people and giving them the opportunity to succeed. Because of Thycotic’s culture, I’ve never been treated differently because I am a woman, and I have been given incredible opportunities to grow.”

Be thick-skinned and dance it off

For McCroskey, it’s important to remember that the tech industry is still a male-dominated space and women need to be confident and thick-skinned. “It is very challenging to walk into a room of ALL men knowing they are going to drill you with tech questions until you prove yourself – but this is common,” she commented. “All I can do is come as correct as possible through preparation and constantly retrospect, self-analyze, improve and sometimes just dance it off.”

Confidence to be yourself

According to Nowicki, women work and see things differently than men and add a different perspective that’s highly valuable. “When an environment doesn’t have prior experience with women in the workplace, it’s initially difficult for all involved to adjust to changing dynamics. The most important change that can be made is for women to feel confident enough to be themselves. If you’re in a workplace with a small female population, partner up with one another to build up confidence, discuss resources, and lean on one another for support.

Being the only one at the table

“Often I am the only one in the room.  Frequently, I would go to a conference, and there would be a long line for the men’s room and none for the ladies’ room – although that’s a welcome change,” says Datskovsky. “It was occasionally more difficult to be taken seriously, as the men would be assumed to be the ones in charge.  I always felt that I had to perform at my maximum at all times being a woman.”


Merrick admits it can get lonely as a woman in tech due to their being so few women in tech leadership. “My move to tech also involved moving from engineering to marketing, albeit marketing of very technical products.  In the early years my engineering degree definitely bought me credibility.  I am also told that my physical stature helped; I am quite tall.  It is definitely sometimes harder to be heard as a woman.  I also think we are less self-promoting. We let the work speak for itself and sometimes the work needs a voice to get noticed. As I moved up the ladder, the number of woman in my ranks definitely decreased.  It can be a bit lonely. You may need to find a peer set outside of your company through associations and special interest groups.  You do have to get used to being the only woman in the room on many occasions.”

Gender bias

Although Hardy admits there is a gender bias, she sees it as an opportunity. “There are always challenges but I like to look at challenges as opportunities. 

The gender bias is alive and well in technology, but not any more than any other sector. I was always the only woman in the room, but I learned early on to not own that or see it as a problem, but as a fact. I had to stand a little taller, work a little harder, be a bit more agile … but as long as I could maintain mutual trust and respect (T&R) with my colleagues, it always worked out. Once that trust and respect was gone, it was time to move on.”

The perks of being a woman in tech

Flex Hours

According to Stucky, there are perks for anyone, not just women, to find a career in tech. “Compared to the other industries I’ve worked in, tech companies give more time off, seem to have better family leave policies, and they provide food to bring people together and so those working late have snacks. At Thycotic, we have men and women who come in early so they can pick their kids up from school, and night owls who work well into the evening.”

Other women

The best perk for McCroskey is being surrounded by other women in tech. “The women tech community is unique because we seem to all admire each other and promote empowerment in each other –  as it’s often us against them. There is very little backstabbing or pettiness – in my experience tech women easily feel a bond and want to learn from each other and help other women be successful.”

Finding a passion

For Nowicki, the opportunity to create and learn in different spaces is most exciting. “In my first role at a defense company, I wasn’t just coding—I got the opportunity to write the newsletter, conceptualize and apply processes, and develop tools that were first-to-market.  I even had access to the internet before it was available to the public.  I couldn’t have asked for a better first job because I got to work on so many different projects and was hungry to learn. That passion sticks with me today.”

Being a pioneer

Datskovsky enjoys being a pioneer in a new space. “You are still a pioneer in the tech world, and sometimes get to cover new ground, which is exciting.  It is also nice to be the one to provide that diversity in the work place.”

Great pay and career advancement

Along with the opportunity to contribute to a new and innovative field, Merrick also lists perks of being in tech as good pay and career advancement. “I think there are a lot of perks to being in tech for men or women.  The pace of change in tech is exciting. Tech is competitive and for that reason it is a very innovative space.  Tech is very broad and there is a lot of opportunity for job changes and career advancement. 

Tech is still a well-paid field with a lot of job perks unheard of in other industries.  I do believe women think differently and problem solve differently. With the right attitude you can make those differences work for you by bringing new and different ideas to the table.”

Never boring

Hardy is never bored with her career choice in tech. “With T&R in full gear, a woman is often rewarded/ sought after for her unique skills and intuition (yes I said intuition), however, I don’t think that this is unique to technology,” she says. “Since technology is still a male dominated field, being a woman in tech gives you an opportunity to stand out from others and be recognized and rewarded for your talent and work ethic. For me, the perks are also the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of new products, techniques, and technologies. It is certainly never boring.”

Although women are still lagging in numbers in the tech space, it’s important for girls and young women to know they have the opportunity to change the tech scene and become positive influencers. Want to jump into the tech space and learn to code for free? Here’s a great list of free places to learn coding basics.

(Article originally published in the ProTech blog by Elizabeth Becker on May 18, 2016)