STEM Presents: Sandra Joyce Talks Cybersecurity

by Helen V. ’23, Club Head of CyberPatriot

The CyberPatriot team partnered with the STEM Department to host our first STEM talk of the year, as part of the “STEM Presents” speaker series. On November 11, Ms. Sandra Joyce talked to a group of students who are interested in STEM and cybersecurity. Ms. Joyce is in the Air Force and currently serves as the EVP and Head of Global Intelligence at Mandiant. She spoke about her childhood and the impactful time she spent as an exchange student in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program in Germany. She also shared about her own education and career journey in the cybersecurity field and her time in national security. 
“I went into intelligence,” Ms. Joyce shared. “It’s not James Bond; it's a way of understanding the threat environment and then helping your commander to make decisions. There’s a whole art and science to that; you have to look at data, and you have to do a really good job of structuring it and understanding where you have some kind of nuance or some kind of advantage.”

Ms. Joyce educated us as to the pressing matters professionals in her field now work on, and she related it to current events like the recent gas pipeline and “SolarWinds” hacks. She talked about stepping into the spotlight as a correspondent for major news programs, reporting to the audience about cybersecurity issues, and also what a typical day might look like: “I spend most of my days watching over a group of about 450 people all over the world.” 

In closing, she emphasized the importance of networking and nurturing relationships, because you never know when you may end up reaching out to someone later. “Just keep in touch," she encouraged. "You never know where even the people in this room will end up. Who knows where you guys will end up one day — you’ll be able to say, I knew them when they were in the classroom and now they’re President of the United States!”

Reflecting on her work in cybersecurity, Ms. Joyce offered this: “It’s exciting, it's difficult work, it's a lot of hours, and it’s a lot of boundary pushing — and all in all it is a fascinating experience that I recommend to anyone who has the interest.” Hearing about Ms. Joyce’s work inspired us all! 
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