Sap Women

Cybersecurity Volume 2: Collaboration is Key with Michelle Barrett-Chang

Whether she’s convening security leaders and colleagues, supporting world leaders at the annual meeting in Davos, or putting together children's events, Michelle Barrett-Chang has a knack for event planning and is a people person by nature, having lived on three continents before the age of eight. The Global Customer Engagement Leader, Chief Trust Office at SAP Global Security joined the company in September 2020, and her journey so far has been full speed and packed with adventure

by Rachel Johnson | 12 May, 2022
Cybersecurity Volume 2: Collaboration is Key with Michelle Barrett Chang

When did you first start working in cyber?

My first step into technology was with a start-up voice-over IP company. Since that point, I've always kind of been involved in the world of technology, and I think there's so much potential and transformative power if we work with and leverage technology as a tool. I've been really lucky to stay in the sector.

And what background led up to this?

For many years, I've been involved with delivering and executing events. The first job that I ever had as a teenager was to facilitate events and birthday parties for children. And I've always kind of been involved with doing events, whether that's supporting world leaders at the annual meeting in Davos, putting together children's events, or gatherings for underserved students. I enjoy bringing people together in an engaging way and having fun at the same time.

That’s a good way to go through life. What does a typical day in your job look like?

I usually start my day early; I begin working around six o'clock in the morning. I have a few calls with colleagues in Germany and the US, and then it kind of quiets down in the afternoon. That's when I can start checking some things off my list, and, between there, I try to squeeze time for lunch, maybe a coffee or two, and then a quick hello and hug to my kids before sending them off to school or picking them up.

That had to be pretty tough during the pandemic to have the kids around as well…

I've been working remote for a while, but I've also been lucky to have experience working with international colleagues, so with COVID-19 the hardest part was to adjust to working with three kids. For me to deliver on events, I must be really organized and stick to a schedule. I’m very detail oriented by nature and if I can anticipate the needs of my customers as much as possible, I feel like it makes my life easier in the end.

As we become more immersed, it's important to understand, what our role and responsibility is, and what you are accountable for when interacting with others online.

What is the one thing everyone should understand about cybersecurity?

I think something I'm learning myself is as we go online, there is nothing in school that teaches you what it really means to make an account online. For example, what’s the right password to use. Is it okay to store a credit card on here? Do I feel comfortable with that? As we become more immersed, it's important to understand, what our role and responsibility is, and what you are accountable for when interacting with others online.

Out of curiosity, how often are you changing your password?

That's a good question. I recently started using a password manager because I heard it was a good way to keep your information safe. Also, it's hard to remember them all since strong passwords require multiple letters, characters, and numbers. I have heard using a phrase or sentence from your favorite song or book is another way to create and remember a strong password.

As a part of the Trust Office at SAP, what are the top 3 topics/issues your clients face?

At a high level, we are a relatively new office structure in the company. Our mission statement is to build trust, transparency, and collaboration. We work across the board with our workforce, customers, partners, and executives, and then we are also working with university and pre-college students. We are raising public awareness on how security impacts the world and what programs the team is offering. It's a really nice way to connect and learn a little bit more because you might have a different image in your head of what security is than what it really is.

What is the number one “Must” when it comes to establishing customer trust?

If I had to summarize it in one word, transparency. When you're transparent about actions and objectives, then you're speaking a common language and you can understand each other. Even if there's differing perspectives, you can at least understand the rationale where someone's coming from.

What is cyber collaboration? And why is it important in cybersecurity?

There’s a proverb that says: if you want to go fast, go alone and if you want to go far, go together. So, I think that's an appropriate lens for this question. Collaboration is how we achieve common goals and objectives. For example, if we all worked in silos, we would just not be as effective in achieving our collective goals. In the spirit of being goal-oriented, if we address complex, interconnected issues like cyber, how can we do it alone? We have to bring others into the conversation, whether it's through learning about what's going on in their world or what's important to them and applying that to our world. Collaboration just means more learning opportunities and addressing challenging issues.

Do you have any tips on how to foster better cooperation? What are some examples you could give of what you're doing right now?

Yeah, it's interesting you ask that. I just started taking a training class on this topic. In a nutshell, it's basically elements of design, like how to host a session without infusing too much but creating the right environment for others to have a productive and solution-oriented conversation. It’s the spirit of event planning to the max. It also includes elements of how to include the voice of others who aren't in the room and bringing that into the conversation so that we can try to have a better holistic discussion on these very important issues.

As a society, we shape security, we form models, and we also define prototypes of trust depending on how we all interact online.

What does the future of cybersecurity look like?

The future is built by us. It's interesting because we keep talking about how we are getting more and more immersed in a digital society and technology is effervescent in our lives, but it is also the future of security. It depends on us. As a society, we shape security, we form models, and we also define prototypes of trust depending on how we all interact online.

Do you have any advice for young girls interested in STEM?

Oh yeah, I'd say: keep with it if the topic is interesting for you. We need so many creative solutions and this can be achieved by anyone, young or old, woman or man. I'm always inspired by stories I read about online; the solutions that young people, especially, are striving for.

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