Ms. Confidence Staveley, Founder and Executive/Director of CyberSafe Foundation, is Africa’s most celebrated female cybersecurity leader, talent developer, global speaker, and inclusion advocate. She has achieved numerous professional certifications and industry recognitions.
Below are highlights of the interview:
Can you tell us a little about your journey before starting your professional journey?
My parents raised me in Nigeria, neither of whom has a university degree but was determined that I receive the best education possible.They had long sold the dream of becoming a doctor, and I had bought into it as if it were mine.However, I finished high school (secondary school), and my parents asked me to wait a year before going to university. It was during this gap year that they thought it wise to keep me busy and engaged by enrolling me in an IT training institute. It was at this institute that I learned how to use a computer for the first time and also started learning how to code. At some point, I gained admission to study medicine at a university in Nigeria, but I had fallen head over heels in love with technology, and there was no going back for me.
I didn’t have a laptop but needed to pitch to my parents that a career in technology was better fitting for me, so I bought cardboard and made my presentation into paper slides. My parents were brave enough to trust the passion they saw in my eyes to lead me, and they allowed me to forfeit my medical ambitions to chase a career in technology. Immediately I got their buy-in, I was enrolled to study for an advanced diploma in software engineering. I successfully graduated and got an admission to study IT and business information systems at the University of Middlesex on a scholarship from my state government. I graduated with a first-class degree. I also secured another scholarship and studied IT management at the University of Bradford, graduating with a distinction. It was during my time studying for my Master’s degree that I took cryptography as an elective, and it opened my eyes to the fact that cybersecurity was a career path I could further niche down into within the tech industry.
I self-studied and got mentored until I got my first job in cybersecurity.
Tell us about your role and responsibilities at the CyberSafe Foundation.
I am the executive director and founder of the CyberSafe Foundation, and as such, I help design impactful cybersecurity programs, drive fund raising, develop strategy, and inspire my team of staff and volunteers to exceed our goals.A good part of my job is also to provide visionary leadership and create a long-term compass for our goal, which is improve the lives and security of 200 million Africans in 10 years, by leveraging novel approaches to human capacity development, cybersecurity awareness, and inclusive opportunities to gain skills, especially for the most vulnerable people and businesses in our communities.
I also report to our formidable board of trustees often.
Tell us about your Foundations’ programs?
All of the CyberSafe Foundation’s programs aim to protect the most vulnerable in our community from cyber harm by facilitating human capacity development and behavioral changes, which in turn help to make the ecosystem healthier, more secure, and more prosperous.
CyberGirls: disrupting cybersecurity skills development in an inclusive way CyberGirls is Africa’s biggest free novice-to-professional cybersecurity training, mentorship, and job placement program. With this program, we are improving the socio-economic wellbeing of women and girls across Africa and contributing to closing the digital skills and gender divide in tech and in the cybersecurity industry more specifically. We have so far trained 400+ women and girls across Africa who have gained employment within the continent and beyond and are helping to protect critical national infrastructure.