Posted: 4 Min ReadDiversity & Inclusion

Attitude is a Choice: It's Up to You to Make the Right One

This year's Women in Cybersecurity Conference (WiCyS) was held in Pittsburgh, PA. Leah F., an alum of Carnegie Mellon, attended, and shares her thoughts on the beautiful collision of her roots, education, and her role at Symantec.

What an amazing experience to head back to my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA for the Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) 2019 Conference. The event was sponsored and hosted by my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). I was attending as a Symbassador for Symantec. All my worlds were combining: my roots, my education, my employer, and my industry. There is no place like home.   

Pittsburgh will always remind me of family, friends, sports, and unity. The "City of Champions" fostered my never-give-up mindset with perseverance and a positive attitude. Growing up with a mother from Pittsburgh, PA and a father from Brooklyn, NY, I was taught to believe in myself, work hard, be kind to others, and to dream bigger. Pittsburgh is a remarkable city of amazing people who have pride in their work, town, family, culture; a community that maintains a positive and friendly attitude. 

Pittsburgh is a remarkable city of amazing people who have pride in their work, town, family, culture; a community that maintains a positive and friendly attitude.

During WiCyS 2019, there were many local references showcasing the love and pride that so many people have for Pittsburgh. A few of the speakers joked about the Western Pennsylvania accent ("yinz versus y'all"). Others quoted well known locals Mr. Rogers and Andrew Carnegie. And through the windows of the conference rooms, we saw glimpses of some of the great sites of Pittsburgh, such as the city skyline, the Three Rivers, and Mt. Washington. Scottie, CMU's mascot, greeted us to kick off the conference, and as we entered the Wyndham hotel, we were serenaded by bagpipes.

Attending this conference also brought back lots of great memories of playing on the women's basketball team at Carnegie Mellon. A captain for two years, my teammates and I continually led and motivated each other to come together to be ready to go play the next game. We didn't win every time, but we always played with all our heart. Being a part of CMU and the women's basketball team provided me with a foundation of inspiring peers, teammates, and friends who never stopped encouraging me. These relationships continue to motivate me to be a friend, mentor, and advocate for all the incredible people in my life. I strive to empower my peers, colleagues, old friends, and new connections. It is important to me to help enable the younger generation to trust their gut, to be bold, and to think positively.  

I strive to empower my peers, colleagues, old friends, and new connections. It is important to me to help enable the younger generation to trust their gut, to be bold, and to think positively.

There are so many parallels between sports and the business world. Playing sports made me realize that we choose our attitude, and that that choice is tested on a regular basis. This is true in the professional world too. Knowing that it's critical to help each other become the best we can be, every day I keep a positive mindset. I stay confident, determined, flexible, and I do this all with grit. Whether it's an important meeting or a big game, this optimism and grit positively influences outcomes and help me achieve my goals. 

This attitude is especially crucial in times of adversity – for example, after a tough loss or a sales rejection. I spoke with a few students during the conference about their concerns and challenges, and I kept sharing my basketball advice of being able to achieve anything on or off the court if you put your mind to it. I always believed – and still do – that with hard work and resilience I could anything. 

Symantec continues to challenge me and provides me with amazing career opportunities across the company. By taking each new opportunity on with an open, flexible, and positive mindset, I have achieved success in multiple roles. Cyber security risks continue to grow and Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report showcases the daily concerns for consumers and enterprises across all industries. As much as I loved playing basketball at CMU, my colleagues at Symantec and I know that security is not a game. Symantec helps protect people and information.  

By taking each new opportunity on with an open, flexible, and positive mindset, I have achieved success in multiple roles.

WiCyS 2019 was even better than the year before. I was empowered to spend multiple days with female leaders in the industry, and inspired by all the students of the next generation. I was grateful to represent Symantec – one of the sponsors of this year's conference – along with so many of my distinguished colleagues. Dr. Meg Layton presented multiple Symantec-sponsored awards. Molly Handy shared her story as a Navy Veteran in the industry. And Barbara Brooks provided commentary on being a millennial in cyber security. Everyone gets stuck in the daily grind, but it is important to take time out of your routine to educate, improve, and invest in yourself.  

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Symantec, and WiCyS are all communities with a clear sense of unity and I am proud to be a part of each one. Cities, sports team, colleges, and companies all need leaders on their teams to achieve success. Find a group that brings out the best in you, because you need to believe in yourself so others believe in you too! 

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About the Author

Leah Feola

Account Executive

Leah Feola has been with Symantec for seven years working across the federal, commercial, finance, retail, public sector, and healthcare markets in the Americas Sales Organization. Leah is a Carnegie Mellon University alum and part of the WiCyS Organization.

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