Women in Tech: A Conversation with Cato’s Shay Rubio

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For International Women’s Day (March 8, 2024), the German language, software news site, entwickler.de, interviewed Cato product manager Shay Rubio about her journey in high tech. Here’s an English translation of that interview:

When did you become interested in technology and what first got you interested in tech?

I’m a curious person by nature and I was always intrigued by understanding how things work. I think my interest in technology was sparked during my military service in an intelligence unit, which revolved around understanding cyber threats and cyber security.

How did your career path lead you to your current position?

I am a product manager for Cato Networks, working on cybersecurity products like our Cato XDR, which we just announced in January. My interest in the cybersecurity space led me to search for a position in a top company in this field, but I still wanted a place that moves at the pace of a startup. Cato was the perfect blend of both.

Do you have persons, that supported you or did you have to overcome obstacles? Do you have a role model?

I was attending professional meetups searching for a mentor for some guidance in my career path. I approached a senior product manager and we clicked, and he’s been my mentor ever since, helping to guide me through obstacles. At Cato, we have some women in top tech positions and I take inspiration from them – they show me what’s possible and serve as role models for me and many other women in the industry.

What is your current job? (Company, position etc.) How does your typical workday look like?

Like I said, I am a product manager at Cato Networks, working on cybersecurity products like Cato XDR. As a PM, every day looks a bit different – and that’s what I love about it. In a typical day, I could be defining new features, collaborating with the engineering and research teams, taking customer calls showing them our new features, and collecting their feedback.

Did you Start a Project of your own or develop something?

I haven’t yet started something of my own – yet. I have been very involved in Cato’s XDR. It almost feels like starting a project of my own.

Is there something you are proud of in your professional career?

I’m proud of driving collaboration within our team, encouraging everyone to speak their mind, and moving at the right pace. I think promoting diversity and inclusion within our team is key – each of us brings a unique perspective that eventually creates a better product. I have one example that comes to mind. During a brainstorming session, a team member shared her experience as a former customer support representative. Her insight into common user pain points helped us prioritize the right feature that directly addressed customer needs, resulting in higher user satisfaction and retention.

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Is there a tech or IT topic you would like to know more about?

The cybersecurity landscape is changing so quickly – so you have to keep learning. I’m always happy to delve deeper into new threat actors techniques, threats and mitigation strategies.

How do you relax after a hard day at work?

I love to spend some quality time with my partner, relaxing with a good TV show, or going out for drinks in one of the great cocktail bars we have in Tel Aviv. When I need to clear my head, I love weight training while blasting hip-hop music, and I also try to maintain my long-time hobby of singing.

Why aren’t there more women in tech? What’s your take on that?

I think it’s important to have women role models in senior positions in tech companies. We are what we see – and if someone like me has managed to make it, it will feel way more achievable for someonelse to get there, too. In addition, in my opinion, we must have full equality in family life and managing the household tasks to get more women to pursue positions in tech.

If you could do another job for one week, what would it be?

I’ve always loved singing and music – and I try to incorporate it as a hobby in my day-to-day life, but we all know how it is – there’s never enough time for everything.  I’d love to take a week and play around with music more, including learning the production side of music and creating my own tracks.

Which kind of stereotypes or clichés about women in tech did you hear of? Which kind of problems arise from these perceptions?

Stereotypes about women’s technical abilities or leadership skills persist, even after countless talented, hard-working women have disproven them. These stereotypes hinder our progress – and I mean not only women’s progress, but our society‘s progress as a whole, since we’re missing out on amazing talent due to old, limiting beliefs. It’s crucial to challenge these perceptions and advocate for change, for the benefit of us all.

Did the conditions for women in the IT and tech industry change since you first started working there?

While the conditions for women in tech have improved, more work is needed to ensure equal opportunities and representation. More women leaders will help young women feel like they belong in this industry and that options are open for them so they can aim high and achieve their professional aspirations.

Do you have any tips for women who want to start in the tech industry? What should girls and women know about working in the tech industry?

My advice for women entering the tech industry is to cultivate a growth mindset, embracing challenges (and failures!) as opportunities for learning and growth. Hard work and perseverance are key in overcoming obstacles and achieving success, especially in demanding environments like tech companies and startups.

Additionally, seek out mentors to build a strong support network, and never underestimate the power of your unique perspective in driving innovation and progress in the tech industry.

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