In this series of interviews, we speak with our 2023 cohort about their businesses, their commitment to creating better futures for their industries and what they’re most excited to learn and experience during their time as a Changemaker.
Speaking with us this month is Stephanie Itimi, founder and CEO of Seidea, a career development platform with a social mission to diversify the cybersecurity industry.
What was the reason for starting your business and the driving force behind your mission?
I founded Seidea with a passionate desire to address the under-representation of diverse individuals, particularly Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, in the cybersecurity industry. My journey in this field began unexpectedly during my internship at the BBC, where I was tasked with tackling disinformation on social media. This opportunity led me to join the BBC World Service team in developing the world’s first public health information service on WhatsApp to combat misinformation during the Ebola outbreak. This transformative experience fuelled my passion to make a difference in the field of cybersecurity.
As I advanced in my career, I became aware of the shortage of women, particularly from minority backgrounds, in the industry. This recognition inspired me to break down the barriers preventing women from entering the field, such as a lack of technical skills. To help women acquire these skills, I started offering open classes in my community, which received an overwhelmingly positive response. This reinforced my belief in the need for increased advocacy of diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity.
“With a mission to continue this advocacy, I established Seidea, dedicating my time and energy to making a positive impact. I am motivated by the belief that together we can create a more diverse and inclusive cybersecurity industry.”
What has been your proudest moment since starting your business?
One of the highlights of my career has been witnessing the success of our virtual internship initiative in partnership with Mossé Cyber Security Institute and She Secures. The programme has provided 51 Black and minority ethnic (BME) women with the opportunity to participate in a remote cybersecurity internship and earn certification. The nine-month experience not only taught them valuable skills, but also led to job placements for an impressive 88.46% of participants within six months of completion.
This partnership showcases Seidea’s dedication to promoting diversity and inclusivity in cybersecurity by offering under-represented groups the tools they need to succeed. By providing hands-on experience and training, we’re helping to build a more diverse and inclusive cybersecurity workforce, which is crucial for the industry’s continued growth.
Another proud moment has to be our coding club with BME girls aged nine to 16. Seeing their love for cybersecurity grow each year we run the programme reminds me of the impact a small idea can [have and how it can] bloom. To date, we have been able to train 113 BME girls in the UK.
How do you try to ensure inclusivity is at the heart of everything you do?
At Seidea, we believe that inclusivity should be at the core of everything we do, and we strive to embody this in all of our initiatives and programmes. To ensure that our selection process is fair and unbiased, we have implemented several measures to eliminate any potential for discrimination. One such example is our anonymous application review process, where we remove the names of applicants and have up to four individuals review their applications to ensure that our selection is based solely on merit and not on any other factors, such as race, gender or background.
Additionally, we work with employers to develop virtual internships, as well as engage with them to build diverse employee networks and achieve their diversity and inclusion goals. Our ultimate aim is to create a supportive and inclusive community for BME women in the cybersecurity industry and to provide them with the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. In conclusion, inclusivity is a fundamental aspect of Seidea’s mission, and we work tirelessly to ensure that all of our initiatives and programmes are designed with this in mind. We believe that by fostering a more diverse and inclusive community, we can drive positive change in the cybersecurity industry and help to create a more equitable and representative workforce.
As a Changemaker chosen by Stylus, Seidea is proud to have access to the […] insights and expertise. This association allows us to make informed decisions about our programmes and to enhance our diversity and inclusion training. Additionally, it connects us with a like-minded community of organisations dedicated to driving change in the world.
“Through our partnership with Stylus, Seidea is able to stay ahead of emerging trends and continue to improve our offering, solidifying our commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the field of cybersecurity.”
Below: Meet Seidea founder, Stephanie Itimi.