Born in northern England and raised amidst a nomadic lifestyle due to her father’s work, cybersecurity specialist Jane Frankland’s childhood was characterised by constant change. Despite this, her family’s emphasis on education nurtured her talents in languages and art.

Privately educated across England, Scotland, and Brazil, she initially pursued a career in design, earning accolades as a Young British Designer. However, financial struggles as a single parent prompted a shift into sales, eventually leading her to cybersecurity.

Co-founding one of the first “ethical hacking” companies, Frankland’s venture became instrumental in national security efforts. Beyond business success, she has become a leading advocate for gender diversity in cybersecurity, founding the IN Security Movement and earning recognition from UNESCO.

In this Q&A, Frankland shares insights into her journey, from humble beginnings to global influence, illustrating the transformative power of resilience and passion.

Quick time frame of where you were born, raised, schooled etc. Tell me a bit about your: 

Birthplace/Upbringing/Childhood

I’m British, originally from the north of England, but my father worked around the world, so I moved around a lot. I’d been to six schools by the time I was 11-years-old. I lived in Scotland and Rio de Janeiro when I was between five and ten. I’m an elder daughter to one brother, who I’m very close to. Very strict Catholic upbringing. Came from a family of teachers and head teachers. Education was highly prized. That said, I was encouraged to follow my passion and talents, which were languages and art.

Schooling

Privately educated (until 16) in England, Scotland and Brazil.

Growing up, what did you always want to be?

A vet. I’m a big animal lover. Then, a designer as that’s what I graduated in.

What were some of your first and most memorable jobs?

Working in retail stands out as it taught me so much about good customer service and leadership. I was lucky to have had good managers. Then, working as a recruitment consultant. That really gave me such a good grounding for building my own business as we were trained to work our ‘desk’ as if it were.

How did your journey lead you to the world of cybersecurity?

As a child, I wanted to be a vet, but as I was creative, I pursued art until my mid-twenties as a designer. Highlights included being nominated as a Young British Designer and selling work in New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo – to art galleries, including Christies, and fashion houses. Whilst it may sound glamorous, my life at that point was not. In reality, I was financially broke, and as a single parent could barely support my son. So, a change had to be made. I was advised to leave my art behind and get ‘a proper job.’ So, I retrained and entered sales –  something I vowed, as an introvert, I’d never do. Working my socks off for Hays, a listed corporate that specialises in recruitment, and keen to serve, I rose through the ranks quickly and could do the job with ease, but I was bored. I then fell in love with a ‘techie’ and after a year of living together he asked me if I’d like to start a new business with him. As I didn’t know much about technology, but was interested in it, I suggested we sell information security solutions as well as high availability servers and networking kit, as this interested me. Aside from AI, which was far too new at the time, security was feasible. I thought it sounded a little bit like James Bond – which obviously it’s not. But that’s how it all started. After about five years, my company specialised in penetration testing. 

You wear many hats. Can you tell us a bit about some of your current roles including The Source, and IN Security Movement?

I tend to tell people I have a portfolio career. I work as an influencer, speaker, advisor, coach and trainer to companies who want to grow, scale and advance.

In my spare time, (and for free) I also work as an awards judge. I mostly judge tech and cybersecurity awards although for about four years I did judge the UK Business Book Awards. I believe I’ve judged about 25 awards over the years in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, and North America. 

The IN Security Movement happened after I wrote my first best-selling book IN Security: Why a failure to attract and retain women in cybersecurity is making us all less safe. It came at a turning point for the industry as attacks increased, group think reigned, and a skills issue loomed. At that time, I called for several actions.

The first was for better collaboration. The second was for better knowledge sharing, and the third was for a change in attitude – no blame, no shame, just better business. That’s why I set up the global IN Security movement. Supporters are passionate about securing cyberspace and ensuring all genders, or anyone in between genders, are welcomed and empowered to reach their ambitions within it. They know that when we work together to do this, as change agents or IN Security ambassadors, we can make a real difference to not only improving diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity, but securing freedom, safety and the operational efficiencies in the world.

Supporters of the IN Security movement are on a mission to improve gender diversity in cybersecurity. They are invited to raise awareness of cybersecurity, the fantastic career opportunities it offers, and to help us perform more research. That way, we can become better informed and more able to create lasting impactful solutions to increasing gender diversity in cybersecurity, globally.

I tend to do research through the IN Security Movement, and challenges. Each year I also offer women’s scholarships. To date I’ve put 419 women through them, a value of around £700,000.

The Source was built in 2019 and follows on from this work, but it was set up purely for women. It’s where we come together to add value, not point fingers. It’s where we collaborate, unify and create communities that are positive, accessible and valuable. It’s where we empower women to build their networks, grow their skills and access essential resources. And it’s where we help forward- thinking businesses to draw on a rich, diverse pool of female talent. We do this via knowledge share and fun by organising talks, events and networking opportunities.

You’ve held some pretty big roles – and been nominated as a Young British Designer, a celebrated UNESCO trailblazing woman in tech, and a UN Women U.K. What are some of your main lessons learned from some of these unique and diverse experiences?

I wrote about many (52 to be precise) in my IN Sights book. If you don’t know about it, go check it out on Amazon.  I’d say to be true to yourself, follow your heart, be resourceful and challenge yourself to do better. Know also that there are no wrong moves in terms of your career. You’re going to get to where you’re supposed to be as you’re a blessed soul, working in partnership with God/ the universe/ spirit. So, trust in the process.

Have you had any mentors along the way?

Yes, I attracted a mentor when I had my first business. He taught me some valuable business lessons including business recovery at a time when my penetration testing business was at risk of failing. I don’t have mentors now, only coaches. I use a variety of experts depending on my objectives.

Can you highlight some of the coolest/funkiest projects you’ve ever undertaken?

I think it would have to be my IN Security book. This tested my creativity, courage and resourcefulness.

Can you highlight some of your main achievements/milestones in your career thus far?

Here’s a summary of several of them:

  •  Designing for The Socks Shop, selling work at Christies, and through my agents.
  • One of the first pioneers of information security with over 26-years in cybersecurity leadership.
  • Owning one of the first “ethical hacking” companies in the world which supplied the UK’s National Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre (NISCC) with vulnerability disclosures.
  • Years of service as an awards judge for the European Business Awards, Teen Tech Awards, NZ Hi-Tech Awards, iSanz, Australian Woman in Security Awards, Cyber Security Awards (UK and Africa), SC Awards (UK & USA), and the UK Business Book Awards.
  • Having a Wikipedia page!
  • Named the 3rd most influential person in cyber in the UK, a top 6 global influencer, a top 50 UK tech influencer.
  • Becoming a World Assessment Council Global Digital Ambassador.
  • Being invited to join SC Magazine UK (editorial), BlackHat (EU Executive Summit), CISO Connect, and ClubCISO as a board advisor.
  • Invited to become a Founding Member of the ECSO’s Women4Cyber Initiative.
  • Becoming an Amazon Best Selling Author for IN Security: Why a Failure to Attract and Retain Women is Making Us All Less Safe, which was supported by renowned individuals and companies like Bank of America, BP, and Fujitsu. This book has been read by over 3,000 people and left a lasting impact on the industry, inspiring thousands of women of all levels in the field and helping men to understand the role they can play. It has also garnered attention and praise from major publications such as The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, Forbes, and BBC programs. Microsoft has even stated that my book is the only one that provides practical solutions to address the gender imbalance in the cyber security industry.
  • Empowering women through initiatives I created like the IN Security Movement, where I’ve awarded scholarships to over 419 women, valued at around £ 700,000, and positively changing women’s lives.
  • Developing the widely adopted IN Security Code of Conduct, promoting inclusivity and safety for women at events. This has been adopted by over 100 events globally.
  • Delivering keynote speeches at some of the largest and most prestigious conferences worldwide, including the EU Commission, UN Women, Cabinet Office, and Web Summit.
  • Being invited to speak at Harvard, Columbia and Kings College universities.
  • Actively contributing to shaping industry discussions and strategies. For example, helping to establish CREST, and serving on the boards of SC Media (UK), the world’s largest dedicated IT security publication, the Black Hat Exec Summit (EU), the world’s most highly regarded international security event series, and ClubCISO, a CISO membership. My involvement in these organisations allows me to contribute my expertise, driving change and offering support to those in the cybersecurity field.
  • Collaborating with the Australian Cybersecurity Centre to promote women in cybersecurity, skills development and best practices in the region.
  • Being a voice for the voiceless, an advocate for women’s rights and gender equality extending beyond cybersecurity. As a UN Delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I’m playing a vital role in promoting gender equality in the tech sector.

What’s a fun fact or something people don’t know about you?

I love the moon. My last dog, a Weimaraner, was called Luna!

Have you had many challenges or hurdles to overcome?

Many! I’ve built two businesses over 26-years, got through COVID-19, held some hefty corporate exec positions, and raised three children as a single parent and the only breadwinner for most of my career. That’s not easy. I had to build from ground zero when a relationship ended, too. I won’t go into the details, but thankfully, I sought counselling from a domestic abuse centre and got back on my feet.

What’s the term leadership mean to you – and what type of leader are you?

I believe that leadership is not merely about holding a title or occupying a certain position within an organisation. True leadership transcends formal authority and encompasses the ability to inspire, influence, and empower others to achieve shared goals. It involves setting a compelling vision, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, and nurturing the development of individuals within the team.

To me, leadership is also about taking responsibility, making tough decisions, and leading by example. It means cultivating a strong sense of purpose, integrity, and authenticity in all interactions. Effective leadership requires empathy, active listening, and a commitment to understanding and supporting the needs of the team. High EQ!

Moreover, leadership entails continuous learning and adaptation in the face of evolving challenges and opportunities. It involves embracing diversity, encouraging creativity, and creating an environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute their best.

Ultimately, leadership is about serving others, enabling growth, and driving positive change both within the organisation and the broader community.

What are your top priorities for the next 12 months?

I’ll be writing two more IN Sights books and launching a mastermind for entrepreneurs. I’ve wanted to do that for ages.

What are some of your passions in life? 

Art, architecture, photography, music, food, travel, film, books, dogs, cats, horses, swimming, riding, skiing. I love the sea and the mountains.

What exciting tech/cybersecurity changes have you seen during your career?

Over my 26-year career, I’ve seen some truly exhilarating tech changes. From the rapid evolution of cybersecurity technologies to the transformative impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the pace of innovation has been nothing short of astounding. The emergence of cloud computing and its pervasive influence on modern business operations is another highlight. These advancements have not only revolutionised how organisations operate, but also redefined the very fabric of our digital landscape. It’s been an incredible journey to witness and be a part of these groundbreaking shifts in technology.

Do you know of a worthy ‘Close-Up’ contender? Get in touch with Jennifer at jennifer@storiesink.com.au to get the story captured.