Priming for cyber combat
October 28, 2019
Deborah Golden (FIN ’94) developed an early interest in technology.
“My father was in the technology field, so we always had gadgets lying around the house, including many different versions of computers and radio frequency devices. But he never brought home the manuals,” said Golden. “So I would play with them until they worked, dinged, or launched video games.”
Her desire to creatively solve problems with such “toys” grew over the years, she said. It led her to the cybersecurity field and, ultimately, to “tackling the big challenge of how to protect technology and mission-critical applications.”
Finance and business also had appeal for Golden, who grew up in northern Virginia. Her older sister, Aimee, was at Virginia Tech, and she knew from the moment she first visited campus that she belonged there, too.
“While cyber in its current form did not really exist back then, Pamplin offered courses that pushed me outside of my comfort zone, expanded my perspective across the board, and definitely shaped the direction of my career,” Golden said.
Championing cybersecurity within Pamplin and beyond
Golden said she is thrilled that Pamplin has entered the cyber field and continues to evolve its programs to match the changing dynamic of this area of concentration.
She has championed the development of the business information technology major’s new option in cybersecurity that Pamplin is now offering its students.
“A cybersecurity field evolving across a landscape that grows exponentially each day — both in diversity and complexity — is expanding the need for individuals trained across a myriad of skills,” said Golden. “Knowledge of cybersecurity is becoming as increasingly important as essential leadership, risk/regulatory, and managerial capabilities. All of these are foundational to this new option offered by Pamplin, designed to give its graduates an advantage in the marketplace,” she said.
Golden’s 25 years of information technology experience spans numerous industries and includes an in-depth focus on government and public services, life sciences and health care, and financial services. A principal with Deloitte & Touche LLP, Golden serves as the U.S. cyber risk services leader for Deloitte’s risk and financial advisory unit. Based in Rosslyn, Virginia, where Deloitte’s Cybersphere is housed, she specializes in collaborating with clients on cybersecurity and technology transformation, as well as privacy and governance initiatives.
A recognized leader in cybersecurity, Golden is quoted frequently in national media and is an active speaker and author on top-of-mind issues, including the advancement of women in cyber and technology.
The increased participation of women and other underrepresented groups in the cybersecurity field should be encouraged through education, networking, and mentoring, said Golden. “Establishing a more culturally and intellectually diverse workforce enables us to help clients address challenges in a variety of ways with different perspectives, which ultimately enables us to stay one step ahead of the adversary.”
In 2018, she was named one of WashingtonExec’s Top 10 Cyber Executives to Watch.
Golden pushes herself on a personal level, as well as professionally. “Throughout the week, I enjoy both endurance and strength training, allowing me to expand both my physical and mental strength competing with myself to reach new heights without a phone or laptop in sight,” she said.
Golden landed at Deloitte about two years after graduation. “I was contacted by a recruiter and, while not necessarily looking for a new job, I decided to go ahead and interview. I just could not pass up the opportunity offered to me,” Golden said.
After joining Deloitte, she worked on a number of different projects. One of them focused on large-scale systems implementation, which rooted her in the cybersecurity area.
“Cyber threats today are very different. Cybersecurity used to be solely contained within a physical space and perimeter, which was largely inaccessible to the adversary,” said Golden. “Now almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives is stored in the cloud and dependent on connected systems, networks, and devices. This situation not only generates more data than ever before, but also creates a disparate and connected environment that is highly vulnerable to a variety of attacks.”
Opening new opportunities
In spite of a demanding schedule, Golden finds time and energy to serve on the advisory boards of Pamplin’s business information technology department and Virginia Tech’s master of information technology program, where her experience and knowledge help to inform and guide the evolution of cyber-focused programs for undergraduate and graduate students.
“Over the past several years especially, I have reflected on how my Pamplin experience helped shape so many aspects of my life,” Golden said. “Supporting and inspiring the next generation of students is a meaningful way for me to give back to Pamplin and Virginia Tech.”
Golden has the same advice for Pamplin students that she gave her own daughter, Macy, a sophomore double-majoring in business information technology and management: “Do not be afraid to take a chance on experiencing different opportunities. Stretch yourself to explore and grow in ways you do not know or even think possible. Most importantly, believe in yourself.”
– Barbara Micale