Sisterhood of the Traveling Microsoft Partners: My Story From CIC 2024

Written by Heidi Hose

I’ve mentioned attending conferences in past blogs and have mentioned how each has their own purpose with learning tracks, speakers, and sessions. They are always full of new information and are each unique in their own way. But from my perspective, they have each had one thing in common: a glaring lack of women in the industry.

When I attended CIC 2024 earlier this month in San Deigo, I was once again on the lookout for my fellow female colleagues. While I was a bit disappointed by the quantity of women at CIC, the quality was something to behold.

This might be a little intimidating to some ladies in our industry, but I was surrounded by a handful of superwomen at CIC. Powerful women who had been doing this for 20+ years or new to the community; women with no kids or many; single moms, and grandmas; women who had multiple degrees or were currently attending college. Each one hard working, motivated and proud. It was giving me “Legally Blonde” vibes. They were all so different but were able to come together and offer one thing in common, sisterhood.

As an extrovert, connecting with others is where I thrive, and this can be a little…off from the norm in the cybersecurity world. Which is why I was excited  to be invited to a ladies-only dinner. My inner Elle Woods said, “This is gonna be just like senior year, except for funner!”

I was not disappointed.

After an engaging day at CIC 2024, we took turns introducing ourselves and relating to each other. We bonded over stories of discounted skydiving, life changes while turning 50, Soulja Boi concerts, how you should always wear the sparkles or the bow and finding the freedom you thought you lost while dressing for the day. Their stories became “our” stories.

We talked about how, as women, we needed to be more competitive, goal-focused, and have a stronger resolve in the industry to get to where we were today.  These women had a mentality of “I changed my mind. I’ll take the dangerous one because I’m not afraid of a challenge.” This is peak Elle attitude, pushing their way through, trusting in people and that opened the door to more opportunities and relationships for today.  And in the end, we all agreed that working together as women was far more empowering than working against each other.

These events aren’t just about CMMC, DFARS and NIST. CIC 2024 proved to me again that you can be accepted no matter who you are. I like to think that all people are good and mean well. The ladies of CIC 2024 opened their arms and hearts, I felt so welcomed, involved, seen, and empowered.

Thank you to those at CIC 2024 who took the time to get to know someone, asked questions and provided answers. To the men and women, those who wear fun glasses, dissemble booths, or stand like Forrest Gump. The Tinker Bells and recently promoted Queens and those with the best hair. The ones who remind you of a Golden Girl, a bobblehead or can find humor in a name. Thank you! You are the people that make impressions that last forever.

#freedom (IYKYK)

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