‘What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There’ — Real Talk With a Senior Cybersecurity Leader

Sponsored by GE Power

Alexias Anderson. Photo courtesy of GE Gas Power.

Photo courtesy of GE Gas Power.

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“According to The International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2, women make up roughly 24% of the cyber workforce,” says Alexias Anderson, the Senior Director of Cybersecurity at GE Gas Power. While this number is still low, it is growing — and Anderson wants to be one of the forces helping to increase this percentage.

“Exposing more women to the cyber function is personal for me,” Anderson tells us. “Since 2020, I’ve hired four women from traditional IT roles to cyber roles on my direct team. I am very intentional about putting people first.” 

In fact, putting people first by coaching and empowering others to rise is the centerpiece of Anderson’s leadership style (and her top piece of career advice, too!) “For those who are aspiring to lead teams and large organizations, study coaching,” Anderson advises. “I actively consume as much information as I can on this topic. The problem-solving, advice-giving, know-all-the-answers leaders have not been the most impactful in my experience. Instead, the ones who created a safe space for me to explore, come to my own conclusions, and sometimes fail… those are the leaders I remember.”

In fact, she remembers two key pieces of advice that changed how she views leadership. First a former boss told her that, as a leader, the challenge is increasing your capacity through others. Second, “I was told when you do not delegate, you are robbing someone of a growth opportunity,” shares Anderson. “I excelled at being an individual contributor, but leading people well requires a different muscle. It is profoundly true that the skill set that got you promoted is typically not the skill set that you will use to be successful in that role. In other words, ‘what got you here, won’t get you there.’” So, Anderson makes a concentrated effort to grow those around her, and empower the next generation of women in cyber.

And Anderson’s support of other women in cyber doesn’t stop there! Beyond her day-to-day role, Anderson also supports women in cyber as the founder of the Women in Cyber initiative at GE and as the GE Ambassador for the Executive Women’s Form (EWF). This group's mission is “to engage, develop, and advance all women in the Information Security, IT Risk Management and Privacy industries, through education, leadership development, and the creation of trusted relationships,” says Anderson. 

Read on to learn more about Anderson’s role, how GE Gas Power supports women in STEM, and her top piece of career advancement advice!

To start, tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, how long have you been in this role, and what were you doing previously? 

I have the pleasure of leading a diverse, global team of cybersecurity professionals. We are responsible for protecting the company’s most critical intellectual property and proprietary information. I have been in this role for three years. Before that, I led the Identity and Access Management team, focusing on ensuring that the right people had access to the right resources at the right time. It’s a fun job! 

What projects or programs are you currently working on? What about this type of work most excites you?

You may have heard; GE is spinning into three separate fit-for-purpose companies. In addition to my current role, I’ve taken on a stretch assignment leading a highly specialized team that has been tasked with building the strategy for one of the most complex workstreams in our environment. To say it has been challenging is an understatement. But I’m the type of person who relishes in approaching the hardest problems. I am the one in the family who volunteers to put together the Ikea furniture. I’m a glutton for punishment, and I love every minute of it!

Why do you think GE Power is a particularly supportive work environment for women?

Representation. While we’re not perfect, our current CIO and CISO are both women. As a matter of fact, over the past two years, women have filled the top cybersecurity seat in several of the industrial businesses as well

How is this kind of support reflective of the overall culture at your company?

Our allyship is strong. We’re intentional about having a diverse slate of candidates for open positions. When women have an opportunity to compete fairly, good things happen.

What’s one thing you think job seekers should know about GE Power?

We get to work on some of the world’s most ambitious problems. GE creates one-third of the world’s power, and our technology undergirds 90% of power transmission utilities globally. We are leading the energy transition. It’s very exciting! Not many companies have such a meaningful impact. I believe this sentiment resonates whether you are early career or more advanced.

What is your No. 1 piece of advice for others who are looking to advance their career to the next level? 

Be crystal clear on what you don’t want. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is more valuable than knowing what you do.

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