From software engineer to career coach for women in tech leadership

Limor Bergman-Gross, founder of LBG Consulting, a results-oriented executive coaching service for women in tech, discusses her early programming experience, including Pascal instruction in high school, her move from software engineering manager to career coach and corporate mentorship instructor and why mentors can and should come at any level on the career ladder, not just management or executive. As Limor puts it, “all you need in a mentor is that they be a few steps further down the path than you are.” Lots of gems like that to be found today on Cyber Work.

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– View Cyber Work Podcast transcripts and additional episodes:

0:00 - Career coach for women in tech
2:55 - Getting into cybersecurity
5:50 - Pursuing cybersecurity consulting
6:54 - How to get into consulting
8:15 - First steps with cybersecurity coaching
10:02 - How to help someone find their role
14:20 - Executive-level consulting
16:00 - A mentor versus an advocate
17:45 - Mentoring and training
20:00 - Speaking at an ISACA conference
22:28 - Achieving gender parity quickly
24:55 - Supporting underrepresented talent in cybersecurity
32:05 - Making a difference in diversity
35:00 - Women mentoring women
37:10 - Making yourself available as a mentor
40:37 - Learn more about LBG Consulting
42:20 - Outro

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Today, on Cyber Work, my guest is Limor Bergman-Gross, founder of LBG Consulting, a results oriented executive coaching service for women in tech. I met Limor at ISACA's Digital Trust World this year, and I really enjoyed her panel discussion, so I figured I'd get her on the show. Limor and I discussed her early programming experience including Pascal instruction in high school. Her move from software engineering manager to career coach and corporate and mentorship instructor, and why mentors can and should come at any level on the career ladder, not just management or executive level. As Limor puts it, all you need in a mentor is that they'd be a few steps further down the path than you are. Lots of gems like that to be found today on Cyber Work.


[0:01:43] CS: Welcome to this week's episode of the Cyber Work with InfoSec podcast. Each week, we talk with a different industry thought leader about cybersecurity trends, the way those trends affect the work of InfoSec professionals while offering tips for breaking in or moving up the ladder in the cybersecurity industry. Limor Bergman-Gross is a former Director of Engineering at Digital Ocean with over 20 years of experience in the tech industry. She is now an executive coach for women in tech leadership that want to achieve more through a result oriented coaching process. Women she works with, Saili More, enabled them to tear down ceilings by challenging them to think bigger. They also say she opened their eyes to a new way of contributing to their careers.


So just as a little background, I met Limor at this year's ISACA Digital Trust World Conference, I believe, and saw her on a panel and immediately ran up and wanted to introduce myself because it was very inspiring. So I'm looking forward to hearing more about some of these coaching processes, and the change in your life from engineering to life coach or career coaching. Limor, thank you for joining me today, and welcome to Cyber Work.


[0:02:49] LBG: Hi, Chris. Thank you so much for having me here.


[0:02:52] CS: My pleasure. To start with, I'd like to ask you about the start of your interest in computer and tech. I see that you graduated from Tel Aviv University in the nineties with a computer science degree. So clearly, it goes way back. But were you interested in computers and tech from a young age? What was the initial goal towards this sort of thing?


[0:03:09] LBG: Sure. First of all, people can now guess my age.


[0:03:13] CS: Okay. Yes. Oh, yes. Yes, yes. Sorry about that. I can bleep out the nineties part.


[0:03:21] LBG: Yes. I mean, back in the days when I grew up, computers were not that approachable. I actually had my first computer; I don't know if you heard of it. I was Commodore 64.


[0:03:33] CS: That was my first computer as well. So I've just aged myself as well here.


[0:03:39] LBG: So me and my brother used to play games, and I was fascinated with it. I was always drawn to STEM, and so I – in high school, I majored math, obviously, physics and chemistry. In those professions, I liked them, and also, they came very naturally to me because I'm a logical thinker. I like things to kind of fit in boxes, I would say.


[0:04:07] CS: Progress from one thing to the next. Yes, right.


[0:04:09] LBG: Yes, exactly. Actually, we didn't have like a full computer science program in high school back then. But we did learn a little bit of programming in high school. It was Pascal.


[0:04:22] CS: Okay. Yes. Yes.


[0:04:22] LBG: That language.


[0:04:23] CS: Yes. Very useful now.


[0:04:26] LBG: Yes, and I really enjoyed it. I liked it. I think that where I started to think that, "That's interesting."


[0:04:33] CS: Okay. I mean, I did learn a little basic on the Commodore 64. You'd get those books of like little program. Did you do basic on the Commodore as well? Or did you sort of use that as you say, to play games, and then the sort of the Pascal class was what really sort of unlocked the sort of yen for the programming languages?


[0:04:51] LBG: Yes. I think it was when I started learning programming in high school, I guess I needed someone to show me the door. When I got my first computer, I didn't even think about programming. I was like just using it, playing games.


[0:05:03] CS: Yes. Yes. Yes. No, I mean. Like I say, I was literally typing letters into – from a book that I didn't understand what I was writing. So I don't know that I learned programming languages either on that, but that's awesome. I love that your school had Pascal, and I have friends who came up back in the day, and learn FORTRAN, and stuff like that, and COBOL. Some of which had to be sort of brought back out when big sort of government and stuff switchovers had to happen, and you had these legacy systems, and so forth.


So yes, my own experience with you, as I said, I've met you at the ISACA conference. So I knew you in your capacity as a career coach and mentor. But when we look at your career experiences, you spent over 20 years working in software engineering and engineering manager roles. You founded LBG, Limor Bergman-Gross Consulting Services Limited in 2017. It appears you made the business your full-time operation within the past year. I guess first question, what brought you to create LBG Consulting originally? Was there a shortcoming in the industry that you felt needed addressing?


[0:06:10] LBG: Yes, it was a combination of both my personal experience as a woman in the tech industry, and my struggles and challenges to get up the ladder. Also, women I worked with and mentor, they started mentoring, engineering managers, and I saw the challenges that women face. It could be impostor syndrome, it could be some biases against them. I had biases against me. I felt really, women need the support. They need someone to push them to believe in themselves to see their hidden gem, so identify their strength, and see what is possible for them.


[0:06:47] CS: Yes, absolutely. How did you acquire this this skill set? Because it's, you have managing engineers, so you're working with people as it is, but was there a lot of sort of learning consulting and stuff on the side? Or was is, did you feel like just your experience in tech had sort of given you the skill set you needed to do this type of work?


[0:07:13] LBG: Yes, great question. I think it was a combination. First of all, obviously, because I was in leadership since 2007. Obviously, I got better, and better, and better at helping others rise. Also, I started as a volunteer mentoring managers in 2017, and that really took me to the next level. Meeting someone I don't know, working for a company I don't know with a team I don't know, and help them. It was a different level of helping someone that is not working for you in the same company that you know them already and all that.


I also took a quite extensive coaching program. Six-month training, and about nine months of practicing coaching. I still evolve and learn. Learning never ends as you probably know.


[0:08:08] CS: Oh, yes. That's absolutely essential to keeping – especially keeping up with your own passion sometimes. I want to talk about the sort of nuts and bolts of what you do. Can you walk me through, say, what your first steps would be when a new client walks through your door? Let's sort of take this both as someone maybe lower on the career ladder, who doesn't quite know where they're going next versus a client who's in a leadership position? Or do you only work in sort of C-suite level coaching? If not, then what are the different things that you're looking for in their skills, and whatever that you can help with?


[0:08:45] LBG: Absolutely. First of all, Chris, that's a great question. I work with basically, people at different levels. It could be ICs starting out, maybe more established, and experienced, and it could be executive. So I work with pretty much a variety of people. I think everyone needs support, not just the executives. I think this is one of the challenges that companies a lot of times, they find only coaches for execs. Actually, I think, the people at the mid-level, or even starting out, they need the support. I needed the support when I started managing. Definitely, I mean, I believe that everyone should get access to help, whatever help they need. It can be training, it can be conferences, it can be coaching, mentoring, so forth.


If a client comes to me that they are relatively at the beginning of their career, we may work about confidence, about building their brand, about building their career goals, and figuring out how to be intentional about their career, and direct their careers to where they want, because I can share that I was not intentional with my career when I started. I had no clue what I wanted to do.


[0:09:59] CS: Oh, yes. I mean, yes. Obviously, every case is different. But can you give me some examples of how to sort of – some of the things you've said in terms of like how to structure like a career arc? Because I think you're right. I don't know too many people who haven't just sort of found their way to their next thing, just by an opportunity that was right in front of them like that. What do you say to someone who says, "I don't know where I want to go?" I'm afraid of just sort of ending up somewhere, because I just sort of grabbed each fine after the last one.


[0:10:36] LBG: Yes. Obviously, it depends on the person, but it will be a – trying to understand, first of all about what are the things that they do very well, that they excel. Trying to find those hidden treasures that they have, those unique strength because everyone is unique. No matter if you take several people at the same level and accompany, everyone is unique at a different way.


Sometimes people don't know or don't realize their uniqueness. If they don't know, I ask them to ask others, as much as they feel comfortable, ask others. It could be managers, but it could be a lot of times people feel more comfortable asking their peers. "Hey, tell me what I'm really good at?"


[0:11:18] CS: That's a great, great idea.


[0:11:21] LBG: Yes. Sometimes it's about reflecting back. What are you really proud of? What are the things you feel like, "Wow, I made this"? So realizing first what are your strength. The other pillar would be identifying your passions. What do you really love doing at your job right now, and what are the things that maybe you – maybe neutral or even dislike?


[0:11:46] CS: Would rather not be doing, yes.


[0:11:47] LBG: Yes. To be honest, I mean, I don't think there's anyone that loves everything that they do at work. You know how it is.


[0:11:55] CS: Everyone's got paper work, yes.


[0:11:57] LBG: Yes. A lot of times, we have things we don't like, but we want that to be maybe 10%, 20%, no more. We want it to become a major part of my work. So kind of identifying what do they love doing. So a combination of skills, strength, passions, and impact. What are the things that they can make an impact, and identifying opportunities. Chris, so many times people limit themselves in their role, in their job description, or maybe in the roles that are defined in the company. But it is possible to create your own role a lot of times. By just identifying opportunities, you can make a difference, you can impact. Then yes, maybe something will come out of it. So not always, it has to be like, very well defined.


[0:12:47] CS: Yes, that's awesome advice. I especially love the part about asking a colleague what you're good at? I think that's a really good to see it from the outside. Because I've certainly skipped out on certain job opportunities, where I thought I didn't have the skills. And anyone outside was, "Of course you do" and so forth. That certainly is amplified. We've certainly heard the stats about women won't apply for certain jobs unless they're 90% qualified according to the – whereas, men will give it a jump at 60%. Sorry, go ahead.


[0:13:22] LBG: Yes. A lot of times, it could be that you know what you're good at, but you don't see that as something really unique or really – so a lot of times, people need to hear from someone else, "You know, your ability to solve maybe some problems, this is not trivial. Not everyone has that."


[0:13:41] CS: Yes. Yes, that's also a great point. Because I think, obviously, our company would like you to learn the certifications that will do the best work for you and your job. But I think it's easy to get into that mindset. If you feel stuck at a job that I don't have enough initials behind my name, or I don't have this cert, or I don't have that experience. But yes, I think it's really good to talk to a coach. or a mentor, or a colleague, and find out, "Oh, yeah, you actually have really good problem-solving skills, or you're great to communicate with, or you keep us all on time and things like that." Yes, that's awesome advice. I love that.


Moving from that, can we talk a little bit about the type of consulting that you do for people who are in more sort of executive level functions? Because I imagine that's a little different. You're at the point in your career that you want to be, or you're making more lateral moves. What kind of advice are they coming looking for, and what kind of things are you suggesting to them?


[0:14:37] LBG: Yes. Again, it depends, but it's a lot about executive presence, about not just doing a good job, but how you build your presence, your brand within the company, finding allies, because the higher you go in the ladder, the more you need to be known. It's less about your manager, because your manager has limited way they can support you. If you want to go to executive roles, other people need to know you. It's a lot about building executive presence. It's a lot about realizing and building your own unique leadership style.


You know how many times, Chris, people tell me, "Oh, my manager thinks I should do XYZ." Because the manager is working in a certain way, they have certain characteristics. But the more you go up the ladder, you need to develop, and believe, and have the confidence in your own leadership, and lead the way you think you should lead.


[0:15:39] CS: Yes. Yes, I know. I imagine it's really easy to get into a habit of you read one book on management, and you're like, "Well, as long as I just apply all of these things, and I'll be a good manager." But yes, that certainly doesn't work across the board for every member of your team, who has different needs and so forth. Yes, and as you said, having someone speak to you, to speak for you in higher levels of your company. Can you talk about this a little bit? I'm just sort of new to this concept, but I've been hearing a lot about the distinction between having a mentor, and having an advocate in your company. A mentor is someone who is helping you with your career. Whereas, an advocate is someone who is literally bringing your name up in upper-level meetings and saying this person is very qualified to do this. Is that a new thing, or am I just not – had I not been hearing that before? Is that –


[0:16:26] LBG: Yes. I don't know if it's new or not new, but there is a differentiation between a mentor, which is someone who helps you build certain skills based on their experience, or someone that has more experience than you in a certain area or field. Versus a sponsor, someone who realized your capabilities, who understand the value that you bring, and can advocate for you, who can speak up for you, or open doors for you?


[0:16:53] CS: Yes.


[0:16:55] LBG: Definitely, you need sponsors.


[0:16:58] CS: Yes, and that's worth hearing in the other direction as well. Because I know a lot of people who are just getting started in their career, it's already – it feels hard enough to sort of ask for a mentor, or feel that you have – because I think there's always that notion that there needs to be a two-way street with a mentor-mentee relationship that you need to be – you should be at least aspiring to provide value back to the person, whether it's your own experiences, or insights that you've gathered, and so forth. To now, and find out that you need both a mentor, and a sponsor, or an advocate, or what have you.


I'm sure that's a little bit hard to ask for if you're sort of unsure about your footing. Can you speak to that at all, about getting your foot in the door in this way?


[0:17:47] LBG: Absolutely. First of all, it's a two-way street. I do a lot of mentors' trainings for companies who run internal mentoring program. Mentoring is a two-way street. The mentors gain a lot. As I mentioned, when I started mentoring, I became so much better as a leader. I knew how to ask good questions; I knew how to identify a strength or identify maybe some limiting beliefs. So a mentor definitely values.


I think I would sum it in one or two words, building relationships. It's not that you go to someone and say, "Hey, will you be my mentor?" It's more about building connections, identifying people you want to build relationship with asking for help. A lot of times, people will be willing to help you if they know you, if they like you, they met you. Always seek for opportunities to help. Give back. Anyone can give back. No matter, if someone just starting out, they always have things that they can they can do to support others always.


[0:18:55] CS: Mm-hmm. I think that ties in real nicely with the notion of needing to know from an outside person what you contribute to an organization. Like, similarly, I think if you start sort of sharing your insights with your mentor, or I remember, like even in the early days of the internet, they would always say like, "Send them an article you just read. Just stimulate their imagination that way." I think if you're a little self-conscious about yourself, you think, "Oh, they couldn't possibly need that." But I think it's absolutely true based on mentors that I've talked to that any insight that they're getting from the mentee is actually very helpful to them.


[0:19:38] LBG: Absolutely, yes. And we learn, we learn from everyone. Someone that is starting fresh brings a different perspective, brings a fresh perspective, new ideas, definitely they have value.


[0:19:50] CS: Yes, love it. Limor, you were part of an excellent panel, as I say at this year's ISACA Digital Trust World Conference in Boston. The entire panel consisted of highly talented, and inspiring women in technology. Of all the presentations I attended that week, it was definitely one of the most engaged and lively conversations between the panelists, and the audience. I mean, can you talk about some of the takeaways you received from that panel event at ISACA or at the conference in general?


[0:20:17] LBG: Yes. First of all, it was a great honor, and source of inspiration for me to be on that stage for sure. I was very inspired, actually, to see the audience that was very, very diverse. I expected only women to come to that panel, and obviously, you were there and other men, and you're very active, and engaging. Just for me, that was worth it because we need that. We need everyone to talk about it, and to realize the value of having diversity, not just gender diversity, but in general.


I think that the main takeaways I took, first of all, we need more role models. We need more women in security that are successful, they can serve as role model. We need communities, like the one in tech that ISACA has. We need more communities that cares about it, and foster the conversations and the connections. Obviously, we need the support of the organizations in organizing all that and supporting those people. That alongside with mentoring, coaching, sponsoring, all that together.


[0:21:29] CS: Yes, I completely agree. We'll get into that a little bit a little bit further down the road. But I attended this event, and also, a primarily women-focused event within a few weeks of each other. It was interesting to see the difference in messaging and how it was received. Although it wasn't that different, but we'll get to that. To sort of pull back a little bit, one of my goals with Cyber Work here, as I say, is to reduce the barriers to entry in cybersecurity for anyone who wants to get involved. Whether those barriers are inward based, like impostor syndrome, or feeling like you're not qualified enough or techie enough, or haven't been immersed in tech since childhood. Or outward based, like companies sift the same type of certifications through the same backgrounds and live experiences when they choose potential employees.


As your panel at ISACA's conference made clear, there's great women professionals who are engaged, and ambitious, and ready to make a difference, and can present solutions based on real results. Limor, what are your recommendations for accelerating this trend so that if someone else said at the conference that we might achieve gender parity at a faster rate than the currently estimated sometime in the next five or six decades?


[0:22:39] LBG: Yes. I think rethinking the whole hiring process and being more open minded. One of the challenges for me, as I was the Director of Engineering were to find women. The reason for that were, because you mentioned that also previously, like about, the requirements are so high that women don't feel – they don't feel comfortable applying. So if we relax that, we try to open our minds, and maybe think about, okay, we want a diverse team, and we are willing to hire someone that maybe don't have the experience. Or they don't have all the required certifications, but we see passion. We see opportunities for independent learning for growth, and open mindedness. Give those people a chance, and allow people to enter your company with maybe less kind of by the book.


[0:23:36] CS: Yes. More things that they can learn in the moment. I think it's also worth noting that a lot of that stuff is things that they would have to learn on the fly, even if they do have those certifications. Every company has its own culture. You're going to have to learn certain interfaces and so forth. Why is it going to be easier if you have CISSP versus not if you're not using those particular skills on yours.


To that end, you said that you are having a hard time finding women to sort of apply to some of these jobs. Can you talk about not just the way that job roles are written or job descriptions are written, but also sort of the places to look for candidates? Because I think that's another problem is that there's these very easy to find job boards, and they think if you've just splashed the job across these five or 10 boards or whatever, then that surely all of the – all of the potential people that we could get are going to be found there. Can you talk about some alternative places to sort of look for new professionals?


[0:24:45] LBG: Yes. I think different communities, like for example, a company called Power to Fly. I was working with them as a client first, and then I was consulting to them. They are all about supporting underrepresented talent and changing kind of the status quo, and helping more diverse talent to get into the workforce in advance. So being present there, talking there in their summits, opening virtual job fairs. Also, in general, be present. Showing the company website your values, and open up different webinars. It's really impactful for women, especially, to see the faces, to see people, real people, as much as you can show diverse talent at your company is even better. So they will feel more comfortable. Hey, this is a place I can see myself working for.


[0:25:39] CS: Yes, they don't see the sort of the additional barrier of like, "Well, I'm going to be the only person who looks like me in my staff. I guess I'm going to have to jump in ready for it."


[0:25:50] LBG: You know, Chris, another great strategy that they found, at Digital Ocean, we had summer internships. I don't know if you do that at your company. What I was doing, I was putting an emphasis on trying to find women as interns. What happened is that we took not only women, but we took relatively more women than men, as interns, qualified obviously. And some of them, we hired after they graduated. That was another great avenue for us.


[0:26:26] CS: Yes. I was going to say, there's so many different stick points on the pipeline. There's the sort of intake is, if you find more women interns, you're more likely to hire more women candidates. If you have more women candidates, you have more to promote to leadership positions. There's a part of it that's just about sort of building the bench in terms of having a larger pool to draw from, and that had – and it requires you to be intentional in your searching, and making a specific decision to do this, and not just sort of leaving it to chance or whatever.


[0:26:58] LBG: Absolutely. Being intentional is the key word here.


[0:27:03] CS: Huge. Yes, absolutely. As I say, a month earlier before ISACA, I attended the Women Impact Tech Conference in Chicago. I attended a similar presentation featuring women tech authorities, those in a space where 95% of the attendees were women. So it certainly meant that the two panels achieve different ends. The ISACA panel, as you said had a nice diversity of people. But there was an element of making people who don't actively support gender parity, and security, and tech know that they need to get directly involved.


By comparison, the women's impact tech panel noted that most attendees were already involved in that process in their own workplaces. So it felt kind of more like a working meeting in which the discussion was able to spin up one level from why diversity is important to sharing actual tactics, and strategies to make it stick. The other effect was that women in tech felt like gender parity might well be right around the corner, because you were just hearing nothing but the entire time. Whereas, ISACA kind of gave me – for better or worse, a better view of some of the security sectors resistance to this.


Limor, can you talk about what you've seen in security in 2023, with regards to real dismantling of entrenched beliefs and monocultural hiring? Because I'm lucky to work for an organization that takes diversity inclusion seriously, but it's easy to get sort of siloed, and imagine that it's happening everywhere. What are your recommendations for changing companies that are more resistant or even hostile to this?


[0:28:25] LBG: Yes. I think that first of all, it should start from leadership, start from the top. Because if the executives, first of all, executive leadership should show that they practice what they preach.


[0:28:38] CS: Right. Absolutely.


[0:28:40] LBG: I want to see a more diverse executive team. Even if they are not yet, they should work on that, to bring different – as I said, not just gender, race, different diversity, all kinds. Then, there should be an executive bind for that. They should want, and then it trickles down, it trickles down to the mentality to how, what are the guidelines for hiring, how strict as we talked before, how strict are you with the requirements, how open are you to bring someone in that maybe comes from a different background. Maybe they didn't go to an Ivy League school, maybe they don't have the same level of certifications that you have, maybe they come from a different background. Just being open to that and reducing as much as possible the biases.


A lot of that is showing from the leadership below, about mentality, and trainings, and sometimes it's diversity and inclusion trainings, unconscious bias. Just opening people's mind that yes, also people that look different than them, and maybe didn't go to the same path as them can be actually a good thing. Another thing is developing a business case. Meaning, convincing the organization why diversity is actually good. Because there are researchers that were done that diverse team produce better results. And companies that have more diversity actually make better financial outcomes, because diversity brings different opinions, different thoughts. It's not everyone thinks the same, more ideas. So convincing a lot of time is just helping people see that it's actually a good thing for them. It's a good thing to bring someone different, that thinks differently.


[0:30:43] CS: Yes. I think it's worth drilling into the fact that it needs to be sort of a core belief of the company, like it's easy to say, "Oh, yes. We're definitely into the idea of diversity. But also, we just – we're here to make profit, and we're here to do this, or that. The story I always loved, I read it in a book somewhere. But Alcoa Aluminum Company, a new CEO said that their goal for the year as his new leadership role was to reduce workplace injuries to zero. Of course, all the investors ran and tried to sell their stocks, because they're like, that doesn't sound like a money-making strategy. But in the process of taking that as like your central pillar, they updated their equipment, and they made their factory safer, and the aluminum they're making was cleaner.


As a result, stock shot up, the value of the company increased. I think there's something to be learned in that idea of, you can't just say, we're into diversity, or we're into hiring different people. It has to sort of like be a sort of nugget in the center of your business ethics, belief system, what have you. Once you have that, and start creating all of your other money-making strategies, business strategies, whatever, then it sort of informs all of that. So here's hoping that more people take that seriously in the future.


[0:32:03] LBG: Yeah, I hope so too.


[0:32:05] CS: Speaking to listeners who might not be in leadership or hiring positions, but still want to influence the diversity of their staff or their work culture. Do you have any advice for ways that they can help change the tide even if they're not necessarily able to be decision makers in that area?


[0:32:21] LBG: Absolutely, and everyone can make a difference, whether it's in diversity or something else. First of all, be an ally. Look, open your eyes and see those people that maybe are struggling, maybe they need someone to lay a hand, someone to help them. Just be open, and just supporting someone who needs your help, can be so meaningful for them, absolutely. Also, foster a culture of inclusion. I had multiple times in my career, suffered from biases and microaggressions. People speaking up not nicely to me in meetings, maybe making a comment that made me feel very insecure and uncomfortable. If a man would be in a meeting and say, "Hey, we don't tolerate that," and foster that inclusion, that is so impactful.


Just by exercising inclusion in your behavior, you influence others to behave the same. Just give support, I would say. Whether it's a mentorship, sponsorship, just being a friend, being an ally, whatever you can do to help those people.


[0:33:44] CS: That reminds me of another point that I heard again, I think at a different conference. One of the things I liked so much about ISACA is that, a lot of the things that I hear as sort of stock responses were getting sort of drilled into and say, "Well, yes. Technically, it's about diversity of thought, or whatever. But also, there's this problem, and maybe it's [inaudible 0:34:05], we don't all need to be working 12 hours a day, but also how do we make that actually happen, and so forth. But one of the things that really kind of blew my mind was someone saying that the idea of pairing women, mentors, with only women mentees created a sort of additional emotional labor that didn't necessarily need to happen. Because by taking men completely out of that equation, they don't have that extra burden or what have you.


I mean, can you can you speak to that at all? There was a lot of talk of maybe having like a woman for a mentor and a man in the company as an advocate, or sponsor, or something like that. But again, speaking to, like you said, making a difference in your own company by speaking out. Can you talk about maybe the way that the notion of like mentor-mentee relationships is sort of changing in this way?


[0:35:00] LBG: Yes. I think that having a woman mentoring another woman can be very impactful. Women feel insecurity want to see someone who serves as a role model for them, someone who supports them. They sometimes need a safe space, they can feel really themselves, they can open up, they can share things that maybe they are insecure, challenges, failures, whatever. So it can be very impactful. But as you mentioned, we don't need to – we don't need to take men out of the equation, they need to be there, they need support, and sometimes mentor. Yes, men are great mentors. It just depends on what those women need. Sometimes, they may want to have, and I had several occasions where we actually wanted women to mentor them because they felt more safe and comfortable that way.


[0:35:53] CS: Yes. Also, I imagine that if you're like a high-level executive, female executive at the company, and you've been tasked with having 14 different female, entry level people. That's almost like a job unto itself. Why put that additional burden on this person when it makes more sense to have it all sort of like free flowing like that?


[0:36:17] LBG: Absolutely. I think, by the way, my kind of the rule of thumb for mentorship is that, it's best if the mentor and mentee are not too far away from each other in their career path. Actually, putting an executive with an entry level may not be the best, because the entry level person may need some more down to earth, like thinks – someone who can understand where they're at, who've been there recently, and can help them. So maybe someone who is fresh out of college, and started a mentor would be maybe someone who is two or three years in the industry, and they can relate, they can understand the challenges they're going through, and not like an executive that is like seeing other things. Maybe she forgot how it's like to –


[0:37:00] CS: Yes, right. Well, back in my day, and then that's 25 years ago, it might be doing things completely different in that role now. Well, that brings up another interesting point, if you don't mind. I want to add one more thing here.


[0:37:12] LBG: Yes, sure.


[0:37:15] CS: I think, again, based on sort of the perception of what a mentor is, I think that there is that sort of perception that a mentor is someone who is sufficiently progressed within the company, or the industry that they have these sort of – they can sort of impart knowledge from the top of the mountain to you and stuff. I think, maybe there's a little resistance, people who are not quite that high up to the idea that they could be a mentor, like maybe you're two or three steps on the ladder. I know, I certainly never thought of like, well, I could mentor somebody. Can you talk about like the process of making yourself available as a mentor when you're not kind of C-suite or management?


[0:37:56] LBG: Yeah. I think just asking yourself, what are the things that I can help others with? What are the things I already know how to do? You just need to know something, and to be one step ahead of someone else to mentor them. You don't need to be like an executive or someone you know with 20 plus years of experience, just one or two steps ahead of someone else, that you can help them with the struggles they have right now. Maybe you know how to deploy code more efficiently. You learn how to do that. You had your share of pain, and you can help someone else do that.


[0:38:29] CS: Yes. Okay. I want to add on to that. Can you talk about, again, I think we're getting – I'm getting kind in the weeds, but each answer you give me sparks more questions. Can you talk about what an average sort of mentor-mentee cycle on that level looks like? Again, I think there's a sort of notion of like, it's not necessarily like office hours, I imagine. You're not like meeting every Monday at one to discuss things or maybe you are. But like, what is the actual sort of flow of a, I'm one step ahead of the person behind me. What is the actual mentor-mentee relationship look like at that level?


[0:39:09] LBG: Yes. I think it depends what the mentee needs. If they need more guidance, maybe it will be on a weekly basis. Sometimes, they don't need that weekly handholding. But they just need someone to reach out to. It can be – also, it can be formal and informal. It can be, hey, I need your help. But when I need it, I'll let you know. So it may be happening once a week, maybe once a month. So it doesn't have to be very formal. It'd be like, "Hey, I know that this person is helping me. And whenever I need them, they are there to support me." Or some people need that consistency, they need to know that every week or every two weeks they meet with someone and they can raise different questions.


[0:39:50] CS: Yes. Well, a little accountability and sort of sort of checking in like that. So yes, that's good to know. Because again, I think there might be a resistance too. Like, well, I can't be a mentor because I'm already busy enough as it is. But even just saying my doors always open to answer questions, and then answering them in a timely manner, I imagine that's a good first step in being a mentor, right?


[0:40:11] LBG: Yes, just helping even once, you know. You don't need to commit to anything big. It doesn't have to be like –


[0:40:18] CS: It's not a new career hat that you need to put on every time.


[0:40:22] LBG: Even if it's like 30 minutes every two or three weeks, that can mean a lot to someone.


[0:40:27] CS: Yes. Love it. All right. Well, that helps me out a great deal. I'm hoping it will help our listeners as well here. As we wrap up today, as we mentioned at the start of the show, you So, are the founder owner of LBG Consulting Limited. Can you talk about a bit about what your services are, what you offer, and how people can get involved with that?


[0:40:51] LBG: Sure. My main thing, and what I love doing the most is helping women in tech leadership. So I do one-on-one coaching, it varies, it can be like five sessions, it can be more depending on where the woman is at and what kind of help she needs. Obviously, it's very tailored and personal, depending on the woman. I also do, as I mentioned before, I do trainings, especially for mentors. I run mentors training for different companies who want to run internal mentoring program, and maybe they haven't done that, or maybe they've done that, but they don't have the expertise because I created a mentoring program, and I've been a mentor in so many organizations. I kind of have some, some nuggets to share. I also do group coaching in circles. I did a circle, ended it last week about transitioning from engineering manager to a director of engineering, so different things like that.


[0:41:47] CS: Okay. Is it primarily sort of virtual based or do you have – is there a location that you – do you travel to sort of client?


[0:41:55] LBG: It's all virtual nowadays.


[0:41:58] CS: Yes. Sure. Sure. Okay. If people want to know more about LPG Consulting, where should they go online?


[0:42:04] LBG: Yes. They can go to my website,, or they can find me on LinkedIn, also Limor Bergman and they reach out to me.


[0:42:12] CS: Yes. Please, please reach out to Limor. She's absolutely happy to hear from you. I'm sure. So Limor, thank you so much for providing our listeners with all this insight. I really – it was a pleasure to talk to you.


[0:42:22] LBG: Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here, Chris.


[0:42:26] CS: As always, I like to thank all of you who've been listening to and watching Cyber Work on a massive scale. We're breaking barriers and and breaking stretch goals, so we're happy to have you all along for the ride. So as always, I want to invite you all to visit We got a bunch of free stuff for Cyber Work listeners, including our new security awareness training series, Work Bytes, featuring a host of fantastical employees, including a zombie, a vampire, a princess, and a pirate making security mistakes and hopefully learning from them.


We also have our free Cybersecurity Talent Development eBook. It's got in-depth training plans for the 12 most common roles including SOC analyst, penetration tester, cloud security engineer, information risk analyst, privacy manager, secure coder, and more. As always, is where you go. Thank you once again to Limor Bergman-Gross, and LBG Consulting Limited. And thank you all as always, for watching and listening. Until next time, have a great week. Take care.

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