IT organizations will always need skilled technologists, but digital advances are creating a market for talented individuals from a variety of other backgrounds. As technology companies see the potential in diverse mindsets, the doors are wide open for a new breed of leader.
“We certainly need people who understand technology in a very in-depth way, but there’s another type of perspective we need to be able to bring to the table,” says Beth Dewitt, National Leader for Data Protection and Privacy at Deloitte Canada. “It requires different ways of thinking to position digital systems so they improve everyone’s livelihood.”
A member of Deloitte Canada’s global Cyber Risk Services executive team, Dewitt joined ITWC CIO Jim Love in March 2022 for Leadership in the Digital Enterprise, an ITWC podcast series focusing on in-depth conversations with digital leaders. Their discussion focused on the role of diversity in evolving leadership styles.
Next Generation Technology Leadership
“There is some authentic change taking place,” says Dewitt. “My hope is that it gives us the tools and the words to reframe leadership and encourage leaders to have the courage to take a position that will help others.”
A walking master class for this new type of human-centric leadership, Dewitt comes to her Deloitte role, not from a cybersecurity background, but with an undergraduate degree in international development and a graduate degree in social anthropology – the kind of educational training that Love credits with honing essential skills for today’s technology organizations.
Putting People in the Picture
Moving on to her view of leadership, Dewitt stresses the importance of creating safe spaces for her team and for her colleagues. “It’s also about operating with integrity, modeling that to those around you, and using your voice in ways that will help bring that empowered space to others,” she says.
In reply to a question from Love about the complexity of leading a remote workforce, Dewitt emphasizes the need to check in with colleagues on levels beyond what is required for the job. She makes it a point to create times for people to talk about things other than work and carves out some ZOOM time that is simply for social interaction.
Whether via a collaboration platform or in person, Dewitt is committed to making time for people who are honest in their endeavors and not looking to use her for a quick fix and move on. As long as people are thoughtful and respectful, and show up prepared to discuss what they want, she says others will be very willing to hear them out.
Building a Diverse Pool of Talent
Dewitt is excited at Deloitte’s efforts to attract more women to careers in cybersecurity. “I truly believe that transformational leadership is going to come by having more and more unique and diverse voices that challenge the way we’ve thought about things in the past,” she explains. “But we have to create the space where these voices are authentically heard, and where the collective is going to take them in and do something with them.”
The podcast concludes with advice from Dewitt about breaking down barriers to a future in cybersecurity. Having experienced some of these barriers on a personal level, she encourages others to go after the opportunities they want.
“You have to show up for yourself and do the things you want to do,” she says. “Fight for it. We need more people like you.”