In Conversation: Evita Tlhobogang (Information Security Officer)

When her brother hacked her Facebook account in a classic case of sibling rivalry, Evita's interest in the field of cybersecurity was sparked. Fast forward a few years later and she is now an information security officer who ensures that her clients stay cyber secure. In this interview, she talks more about what her job entails, her career vision, and much more!

In your own words, please tell us who Evita Tlhobogang is 

Evita is a young lady from Good-Hope, who grew up in Peleng, Lobatse. Three words that come to mind when describing myself are inquisitive, bold, and funny.

Briefly take us through your journey to a career in tech

I pretty much always knew I was going to pursue a career in tech, but it was finding out that my older brother had hacked my Facebook account that sparked an interest in cybersecurity. I have since dedicated the past seven years to specialized education, and skills development. Currently an Information security officer, in pursuit of my Certified Ethical Hacker qualification and frankly JUST getting started. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in tech?

Well, tech was a huge part of my childhood by virtue of my dad being in tech so my siblings and I were often encouraged to explore software (mostly educational apps) and hardware. 

Please tell us what your current job entails

The most exciting part of my job is how dynamic it is. Every day looks different but at the core of it all, I get to help people secure their devices and applications. For most clients, the starting point is a vulnerability assessment where a report would inform the best-suited security strategy and policies. For other clients, I analyze, respond to, and manage cyber incidents, currently seeing a trend in identity theft and phishing attacks. Finally, I get to carry out investigations that involve the extraction, verification, and analysis of digital evidence. 

Women representation in senior and decision-making positions in tech is still unfortunately low. As a woman in such a field, what has been your experience?

I agree, we have a long way to go but I also acknowledge that there are some efforts that I have witnessed, which seek to cultivate an interest in STEM, for young ladies. I for one have been blessed enough to have encountered a community of women in tech who are determined to take up space and BE the representation that girls in tech ought to have. 

If there have been challenges as a result of this representation gap, how have you managed to surmount them?

I think it is quite sad to say that the gap forces women to work EXTRA hard at being exceptional because we are aware that in our line of work, the man is usually considered to be the “better suited” option. I was recently chatting to a friend of mine who had requested post-interview feedback for a network engineering job, and the response she was given by the recruitment team was, “The interview went well, unfortunately, we don’t want any female technicians”. The sad reality is that we have no other option but to continue to toil.

What do you think can be done to reduce this lack of representation?

I think collaboration would be a good place to start. I have seen it do wonders in amplifying the voices of women-led solutions in other industries. I hope to see the day that women in software development, data science, cyber-security, etc. jointly create value for the nation and themselves. That will be the dawn of an exciting era, one that’ll catch Botswana up to where the rest of the world is and heading. 

You are also the co-founder and vice president of the Female Founders Initiative Botswana. From your experience being involved in such initiatives, how important are they in fostering women's participation in specifically tech entrepreneurship?

During my time with the organization, I got to be a part of a holistic mentorship program where women across the nation, from different industries, gained practical empowerment which I deem key in the journey of entrepreneurship. I find such initiatives to be conduits of skills development from relevant industry experts. 

What support do you think such initiatives need to achieve their mandate of fostering women's inclusivity in tech entrepreneurship?

Very important, they need financial backing.  

Information Security, which is the field you are in, is constantly changing and rapidly. How do you ensure that your skillset always remains relevant?

So the thing with cyberspace is that it is borderless meaning, no country, organization or individual is exempt from any cyber attack. It also means that cyber security professionals are kept on their toes. I stay on my toes by regularly visiting various blogs and case studies that allow me to benchmark, and by investing resources in practical courses that allow me to explore other avenues of my specialty.  

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Although to me each mastered skill is an important milestone in my career, a definite highlight would be a research, Privacy Impact Assessment, that I conducted in 2020 to establish the privacy risks associated with the manual Covid-19 contract tracing method in line with the national Data Protection Act (2018). I was then selected to present my findings at the Botho University International Research Conference with acknowledgment from  Emerald Group Publishing. A year later, the Act has been effected and I get to assist organizations and most importantly, developers with compliance. Something like a full-circle moment.   

What’s something you know now that you wish you knew earlier in your career?

To never entertain the trap that is imposter syndrome.   

If any, what is the best advice you have received in your career?

Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might- Ecclesiastes 9:10

Careerwise, where do you see Evita in the next 5-10 years?

An integral part of a global cyber readiness platform and an advocate for data privacy rights.  

What advice can you give to young girls who are interested in pursuing a career in tech?

That tech is for everyone, forget the stereotype.  

Lastly, please share with our readers your contact details in case they want to get in touch with you

Twitter and Instagram: @Evita_bw 

Facebook and LinkedIn: Evita Tlhobogang


NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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