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Hi guys! This is Jael Whitney, volunteer for Kids in Tech. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month and #MassSTEMWeek, I’m going to be talking to professionals all across the cybersecurity industry about the future of STEM. Today, I’m interviewing Kathy Kountze, CIO for Eversource Energy.

Credit:Kathy Kountze

Hi Kathy! Can you tell us a bit about your background with cybersecurity?

I am the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Eversource Energy. Eversource is an energy company, with 8,000 employees, that provides gas, electric, and water services to 4 million customers across New England. I have been the CIO at Eversource Energy for 10 years, where I am responsible for the company’s technology areas, including cybersecurity. We have approximately 1000 information technology employees in our department who provide technology support for Eversource. 

I have been heavily involved in cybersecurity since the early 2000’s when it started to be a critical function within IT organizations to address security risks within companies. Much has changed since then with cybersecurity events happening almost daily to companies all over the globe.

Awesome! What do you love most about cybersecurity?

I enjoy assessing the cybersecurity risks and challenges and working with my security teams on minimizing those risks and protecting our company. Our company keeps the power on in homes and businesses, provides warmth through gas heat when it’s cold outside and makes sure people get clean water all day, every day. Keeping our company and other important companies, like banks and hospitals, operating by protecting them from cyber security breaches and hacks is very rewarding. The services we provide are critical for people to have productive, comfortable lives. I enjoy being a part of ensuring that happens for all of our customers.

The theme for this year’s Massachusetts STEM Week is “See Yourself in STEM,” with a particular focus on the power of mentoring. How can we help more young people see themselves in STEM?

First, it is extremely important to introduce young students to STEM early in their education. It is also equally important to show them the many different ways that you can build a career in STEM because it is much more than just working with technology, science, engineering or math every day. There are so many different roles within these areas that people aren’t aware of that they can do. Connecting with people who are in these disciplines and hearing about the many different jobs that they have had is a great way to get young people educated and interested in STEM.    

Very cool! Anything else you would say to young people interested in exploring STEM?

There are so many great opportunities in technology. Cybersecurity is just one of many areas that someone can pursue. There is now and will be for quite some time in the future a need for people with good technology skills. And these days, you don’t need a four year degree to work in the IT industry.  Because of the need for technology professionals and the ability to enter this career without a college degree there are so many opportunities for young adults who come from many different backgrounds to become an IT professional. I look for energy, a desire to learn and a passion for technology when I hire IT people. I believe that is what is most important for anyone pursuing a career in IT. Technology is a fun, ever changing world where the opportunities are endless.