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There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for


Our CEO, Maria Bique, was selected as the role model of the month April by Women4Cyber Finland. You can read the interview translated into English in here, or read the original post here. Original text: Aino Mikkonen, W4CFI Articles. Photo: Maria Bique.

Women4Cyber Finland Role Model of the Month

Maria Bique is an inspiring entrepreneur whose goal is to address the shortcomings in the cybersecurity industry. Maria began her career as a researcher in the field of medical physics. Because of unforeseen setbacks, her career as a researcher came to an end when her research grant was not enough to cover the costs of a roof leak repair and the expenses of raising three children. 

Maria decided to pursue an entirely new career path and applied for both clinical physicist and technology-related positions. Among these options, she ended up choosing the latter; first as a technology consultant, from where her journey continued through various twists and turns to leading data privacy projects.

Eventually, Maria transitioned into cybersecurity roles. In 2018, she found herself frustrated with the cybersecurity industry and switched back to technology consulting.

In 2019, she met her current business partners, and together they decided to establish a company to address the issues that once led Maria to leave the field. Today, Maria has five children, and the sixth is due in early summer.

Maria Bique

Goal: Advancing digital equality

Maria explains that what makes her current work meaningful is that it feels like tangible work towards a better future. “Our society requires trust to function, and that trust can only be maintained if we all have sufficient digital and information literacy. Digital inequality undermines the chances of those already in a vulnerable position and fuels polarization.” To narrow digital inequality, Maria and her co-founders Mikko and Teemu founded CyberCoach, a company whose scenario games provide training on the latest threats to everyone.

Maria's work is creative and never dull. There's always something new to learn, and no ready-made solutions can be relied upon, so one must think "outside the box." Guiding a new way of operating also brings challenges. “The prevailing model in the industry primarily aims to identify ‘weak’ employees and algorithmically deceive even those employees who are already adept at recognizing real threats. We challenge companies to train their employees in a completely different way and to provide them with an anonymous and psychologically safe environment for learning.

Additionally, the constant and unpredictable oscillation between refining small details and making significant decisions adds practical complexity to the work. Maria notes that within a couple of hours, she might engage in negotiations with investors, present a sales demo to a public company, update cash flow forecasts, decide on product functionalities, and discuss user feedback.

Advocating for diversity and change

According to Maria, a lot of work is needed to bring diversity to the cyber sector, and furthermore, a lot of work is needed to ensure that representatives of minorities stay in the field and progress within it. There is still much to be done in both areas, but the latter has a particularly long way to go. “The situation regarding equality is improving, but it cannot be assessed solely by looking at the absolute number of minority employees. True equality will only be achieved when diversity exists at every career level, up to the highest leadership positions.

Maria believes that diversity can be promoted by changing the culture of the cyber industry, as events heavily focused on alcohol exclude minorities from participating. She emphasizes the importance of inclusive events, but they should not be exclusively targeted at certain minorities. For example, it is not equality if women get keynote speeches at women's events or speak on smaller stages at major industry events, Maria says.

Equality can be spoken of when it is visible on the main stages of major industry events. I fear it won’t happen if women and other minority groups settle for their own minority events.

Maria suggests that diversity could also be promoted by mechanisms that allow minorities to participate in major cyber industry events. The largest events are held in high-cost cities, and tickets are often very expensive. Most representatives of minorities are still early in their careers and may not receive event tickets from their employers. However, these events are crucial for networking and career advancement. Diversity at such events lags behind smaller and more affordable events by a decade, Maria points out.

The future in the field is endless

For those interested in the cyber field, Maria wants to remind them that there is plenty of work, and it is truly diverse. “You don't need expensive certifications to succeed. Instead, think about what interests you and find a mentor in that area. Mentors can be approached through mentorship programs, but also boldly by asking directly.” Maria's message to readers: “See you at events! Feel free to come and talk or ask questions anytime.


Maria Bique - CEO and Co-Founder of CyberCoach 
Maria holds both M.Sc. and L.Sc. in Engineering and pursuing a D.Sc. Her professional interests include data privacy and security, regulation of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, threats of digital inequality to society and mitigating measures. She enjoys football (playing and coaching) and scuba diving and free diving.