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Salesforce’s Security COO on Making Cybersecurity More Inclusive

Vivienne Wei

October 19, 2023

I used to imagine the cybersecurity world as a dimly lit cavern where lone coders hunched over keyboards, endlessly lost in lines of code. This felt far removed from the interactive and collaborative work environment I thrive in. But that perception took a 180-degree turn when my mentor, June Chen, CISO at Glassdoor, sat me down and walked me through the NIST framework to expand my scope into security operations a couple of years ago.

“You can do this,” she said. That moment wasn't just a tutorial; it was a revelation. It showed me that cybersecurity isn't just about coding in isolation; it's a landscape teeming with opportunities for problem-solving, team collaboration, and mentorship. I am so passionate about advocating that people of all backgrounds, especially women, really consider a career in security. The industry offers endless paths for growth, innovation, and success.

It’s almost a misconception that the security space is solely a technical industry and that only highly skilled technical backgrounds will thrive. Are technical skills necessary? Absolutely. Can you succeed in security as someone without a formal technical education? 100% — just look at my resume! You’ll notice one thing is “missing“ from a typical Security COO background: an engineering degree.

So, What Can a Successful Career in Security Look Like?

At Salesforce we are innovating with Data + AI + CRM + Trust, and none of that cutting-edge work can be done without a Trust layer designed for enterprise security standards. My team is responsible for upholding the Trust part of the equation. That means, yes, we encode our technology with safeguards. That also means that once those safeguards are developed, we communicate, analyze, and operationalize to enable our security measures.


Vivienne (farthest left) with her Security team at Salesforce Tower in San Francisco

A big key to my team’s success is nurturing a partnership with our development team to ensure that security is being considered at every step of our product development. That requires everyone to be strong at building trusted relationships, applying systems thinking to scale our operations and being agile when things change.


My team is comprised of a balanced blend of technical and non-technical experts: Information Security Engineers and Program Managers, Software Developers and Communication Specialists, Technical Architects, Business Analysts and Risk Professionals. As a high-performance security organization, we effectively apply our resources to mitigate the highest risks to our customers and enterprise. True partnership is what makes us all succeed at our end goal: delivering secure products to our customers, and upholding their trust in us.

The Key To Cybersecurity’s Future: Creating an Inclusive Culture with Diverse Backgrounds and Skillsets

Women make up 24% of the global cybersecurity workforce. While the number is slowly increasing, it’s not happening fast enough. Security has gained a reputation for being very technical, intimidating, and unwelcoming. Compounded with the fact that women and people of color don’t see themselves already represented in the space, qualified candidates from these underrepresented communities are more likely to count themselves out. A key example is in the world of startups: when there are less than 15% of women in an organization, women applicants are almost 30% less likely to apply. So what needs to happen to make security more inclusive? Candidates need to identify the right teams and the right culture to thrive — and companies need to invest in creating that culture.


When teams are more diverse, they are more successful. Every security team — and any team! — needs a group of diverse minds. This can only be achieved if we are intentional about it.

Vivienne (middle) with her teammates at the 2023 Dreamforce Security Station.


At Salesforce, we have set diversity and equality goals to ensure our teams look like our communities, and leaders at Salesforce can measure their own org's equality metrics. When we set these goals, we are held accountable to achieve them.


Research shows that inclusive environments are key to women and people of color feeling like they belong. At Salesforce, we have a Women in Security group where we host social and learning events to trade ideas and information to foster an environment of support and collaboration.

This kind of culture is what I truly love about Salesforce. We are a community all working towards the common goal of making things better for everyone — for our customers, for our colleagues, and for future generations. I feel very honored to be a part of that environment.

Where to Start on Your Security Career Journey

Security can feel like a world of its own, with intimidating jargon and high-level concepts. But it’s more accessible than ever today. If you’re curious about a career in security or just want to learn the basics to see if it’s something you enjoy, I can’t recommend Trailhead enough. It’s an abundance of free information in one place, designed to be digestible and self-paced. There’s also a Cybersecurity Trailblazer Community Group that our team supports to answer questions, connect, and help other Trailblazers on their cybersecurity career journey. I also recommend joining a local cybersecurity professional group and building real relationships with people who have the job title you want. Having those people in your corner who are doing what you see yourself doing in the future is key to motivation and perseverance.

Security is for Everyone

Security is an industry that needs diverse perspectives and talents. If you are passionate about continuously learning, want a collaborative role, and like to get your hands dirty, security is right for you.

If you’re interested in a security job at Salesforce, check out our open roles and apply now. Or, join the Talent Communityto be notified of hot jobs in your area, upcoming events, career advice, and more!