Following her recent appointment as Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Global Risk Technologies, I have been getting to know Monica Eaton-Cardone. As well as bringing a wealth of experience to her new role, Eaton-Cardone is an active member of several professional organisations, including The American Business Women’s Association. Being a passionate advocate of enabling more women to take up leadership positions, I took the opportunity to learn more about Eaton-Cardone’s own journey to the boardroom and discover her views on the apparent lack of women in similar roles in the technology and security industries.
Eaton-Cardone has 20 years’ experience in development and retention of strategic partnerships under her belt, and she has worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies in a consultancy capacity. However, it was after taking an opportunity to work from the other side of the fence, as a part of a merchant company, that her skill set was elevated to a new level.
“I took up a new opportunity just at the time when everyone was becoming enticed by online marketing,” she says. “Previously, the focus had been on TV and print. It was clear very early on that operating online as a merchant was a completely different ball game, especially in terms of secure payments. I believe maintaining a balance between risk and reward is vital and cannot be taken for granted, so I helped to develop a programme that solved universal problems related to measuring risk and tracking secure payments.”
Not only did this programme solve the company’s own problems, but it was so successful that the banks sat up and took notice, and it wasn’t long before Eaton-Cardone’s solution was being put to use by other merchant companies. However, given the fast-paced nature of eCommerce and the evolving nature of the industry and technology, Eaton-Cardone explains how this programme was only the start of the journey.
“Anything written even as recently as 12 months ago is obsolete in today’s market,” she says. “That’s why we are constantly developing risk management solutions that fill the knowledge gap.”
Given the comparative lack of women working at such a level in technology and security, I was curious if Eaton-Cardone had always intended on a career in this field.
“I’ve had the same career goal from the start,” she informs me, “to help build and sustain relationships between merchants and consumers. And I’m doing that; it just so happens that now we’re in a digital age and I’ve adapted with that evolution.”
Speaking about women in the industry, Eaton-Cardone explains that when you look at the relationship between merchants and consumers it makes sense to encourage more women into higher-level positions. In many situations it’s women who represent the largest section of consumer spending, and yet, the majority of people making decisions in merchant companies are men. Eaton-Cardone says that when women influence the decision-making process you see more appropriate, faster solutions to problems.
Eaton-Cardone believes we are starting to see change in the industry, but more needs to be done to encourage more women into senior roles.
“We’re seeing a trend of change,” she says. “The current digital evolution and revolution is removing barriers that have previously come between women and the workplace. It’s no longer the case that a job must be a straightforward ‘9 to 5’ day. The standard of technology readily available today means remote working is opening up new opportunities for women. But we still need more education; we need to get the word out that these opportunities for women exist and employers need to take on board that women, especially those with families, have skills that transfer to the business world that are often overlooked, such as the ability to multi-task and drive production, not to mention impressive management skills.”
So what does a career in security and technology have to offer women?
Eaton-Cardone says, “I find it’s never work if you love what you do and there’s plenty in this industry to offer passion and excitement. There are plenty of challenges and it’s rewarding to work in such a fast-paced and evolving sector. In addition, I’ve found that there’s a flexibility in this industry that you may struggle to find elsewhere, especially with regards to remote working, while there’s support available that caters to long-term plans – whether or not they include making time for a family.”
Eaton-Cardone credits her positive attitude and the fact that she has developed a thick skin as key attributes that have helped her throughout her successful career. Yet, when discussing the wider issue of gender equality in the boardroom she’s certain that there’s one key thing that makes the biggest difference.
“I believe there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved – time is the only variable,” she states. “There’s been a misconception that women can’t have everything, but times are changing. Women simply have to realise that they can succeed and seize the opportunities that are out there. What was impossible ten years ago is happening today and what’s seemingly impossible today will be happening in just a few short years.”