During her law studies, Ivana Butorac developed an intense interest in cybersecurity. Slowly but surely she started to explore the legal challenges in the digital arena, eventually graduating with a master’s degree in IT law. Today, as Information Security Consultant at Sopra Steria Benelux, Ivana works in her desired professional niche: security and privacy.
The way you describe it, the IT industry sounds like a very interesting but challenging environment to work in as a lawyer. Do you know of any other colleagues at Sopra Steria who share your background in legal education? Or are you really that unique?
“I wish! (laughs) At Sopra Steria, we are open to a diversity of profiles. And I believe this is actually one of our major strengths as a consulting service provider. So I do have colleagues now who are doing the same work as me and who come from the very same background in IT law.
Now I have them, but I have to admit that, until joining Sopra Steria, I didn’t come across many people with similar ambitions and career paths. Most had started out as technical experts instead and later broadened the scope of their knowledge to include GDPR and other privacy-related security issues. And when some years ago, before GDPR had even come into effect, I first expressed my desire to move into the cybersecurity space, there still was some kind of bias towards me because I did not have a technical profile. So it turned out to be a long path for me, with a lot of challenges and learning, but now things are definitely improving.”
What part of your job as an Information Security Consultant do you find the most appealing?
“That’s a good question. What I really like about working in the IT industry, in general, is that you get to operate in an extremely dynamic, fast-paced environment, with technologies that are constantly evolving. So the work never gets boring. Even if, like me, you focus on consulting on data protection law, a project is never entirely the same, because the client changes, his needs change, and so on. And since you’re always dealing with different data, there’s always a different angle you need to take.
All this keeps you curious and on your toes so that you actively seek out information and keep exploring and learning new things. And this applies even more to me, for as a lawyer I now get to familiarise myself with technologies I probably wouldn’t even know existed otherwise. So not only do you never get bored with your job, but you invariably get better at it too. What I also appreciate in that respect, is that this job allows you to specialise in a specific niche, if you want to, and you will still be able to grow. So there won’t be a saturation of your knowledge or of your desire to explore things further.”
To conclude then: what’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
“The most challenging? That must be the fact that today’s technologies are evolving so quickly that our lawmakers are not always able to keep up with them. The law is developing as much and as fast as it can, but its development is still not as fast as that of the technologies it attempts to regulate.
The fact is that sometimes we are on totally new ground here in this industry. And where my skills and experience as a lawyer really come into play, is when there’s an issue that is not simply black or white. So you need to thoroughly educate yourself on it first. And you need to really think it through, analyse it well and look at it from different perspectives to interpret it correctly. Confronting such issues is a great responsibility that you need to take very seriously.
The good thing, of course, is that you don’t have to do all this assessing on your own. You can always consult your colleagues and discuss any issue with them. So it’s definitely not a one-woman’s game. (Laughs) In our business, things are always open for discussion anyway. Whatever the issue, there’s usually some room for debate left. That’s why, as a lawyer in IT, you need to keep an open mind first and foremost. You cannot be as close-minded as lawyers in actual law firms sometimes tend to be. When you work in IT, you really need to have a resilient, flexible, adjustable mindset. And you need to be able to tackle things from different perspectives.”
Want to find out what it’s like for a woman to work in IT? Read the closing part of our interview with Ivana Butorac here.
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