As much as she’d like to say she spent her youth dreaming of a cybersecurity career, “that’s not really how it rolled out,” says Sushila Nair, Vice President, Head of Cybersecurity Services at Capgemini Americas, a global leader that partners with companies to transform and manage their business by unlocking the value of technology.

“I initially started as an engineer,” Nair says. “The reason I studied engineering was I had a physics teacher who was incredibly sexist. He used to say things like, ‘Why do you want girls studying physics when they’re just going to be pushing prams?’” Nair had heard her teacher had tried to become an engineer before teaching, so when he asked her what she wanted to do for a living, she said engineering. “When I was accepted into an engineering program, I was a little stunned.”

One of five women in her class, Nair struggled to find an engineering role after graduating, crediting a combination of a downturn in the market and the lack of recognition of women in engineering at the time. She eventually landed in a networking role, which was her first exposure to cybersecurity.


“I joined the field on that early curve of cybersecurity taking off,” she says. “I started to do presentations on cybersecurity and the simplicity of being able to break into systems, and as a result of that, I started getting work in helping organizations secure their networks. That’s how I started a company.”

In 1994, Nair co-founded and served as Chief Information Security Officer at Advanced Computer Group, a UK-based IT security consultancy. There, she created technological roadmaps for multinational enterprise organizations; presented on cybersecurity at industry events; and designed, configured and secured digital environments for clients; among other duties. This role deepened Nair’s passion for cybersecurity by allowing her to positively impact cybersecurity across sectors and nations through her consulting work.

“For me, I think cybersecurity was especially appealing because it was a way that I could make a difference. Cyber is really all about helping people, and helping everything from our nation to being able to protect ourselves,” she says.


After a decade leading Advanced Computer Group, the company closed its doors and Nair moved on to a new Chief Information Security Officer role at Electrolabs, a Malaysia-based telecommunications firm. There, she project-managed an initiative to authenticate credit card transactions via telecommunication networks, a first at the time.

“Malaysia is a leader in fraud, so we were working with the USSD text messaging channel to be able to securely authorize credit card purchases,” says Nair. “It doesn’t sound all that amazing today, but at the time, we were at the forefront of the technology, and I got to work with some of the financial organizations in Malaysia and educate them on this payment authentication method.”

In 2004, Nair relocated to the U.S. to join Knowlogy as Senior Information Security Consultant, where she developed security training programs on cybersecurity, the CISSP certification and more. After three years at the company, she earned a Product Manager role at British Telecom (BT), where she rose through the ranks, holding Enterprise Security Architect and Senior Product Manager roles over her seven-year tenure at the company.

After her boss at the time left to join an encrypted mobile communications startup called Silent Circle, Nair soon followed and served as Director of Customer Experience for just over a year. She worked with a number of cybersecurity titans to develop the Blackphone — a smartphone designed with privacy and security in mind.

“I learned a phenomenal amount about mobile communication as well, which I think was useful. And I also was very much involved with setting up the education of the sales and distribution channels as well,” says Nair.


In 2016, Nair returned to hands-on solutions design with a Senior Solutions Architect role at NTT Security and then moved to NTT Data to head up their cybersecurity offers. She guided NTT Data to gain Azure Cloud Security Gold Competency, Microsoft Identity Specialization, and Microsoft Azure Expert MSP status. Nair led offer the cybersecurity offer development team and proposed cybersecurity solutions for clients across the globe. She says working in a cross-cultural environment led her to appreciate the people and the mission of cybersecurity.

“Cyberattacks have no borders. When we look at past incidents, numerous countries were affected in a matter of hours. Somehow, you have to communicate the message of cybersecurity to people no matter where they are,” she says.

Nair was promoted to Vice President, Security Services at NTT Data in August 2020, where she deepened her understanding of the importance of community in cybersecurity even further, she says. During her tenure at NTT Data, Nair partnered with Dr. Diane Murphy and a team at Marymount University to create a downloadable threat model for data lakes, which has been downloaded more than 1,000 times.

“As a result of that research, we published a paper working together with Marymount University that actually went on the Cloud Security Alliance website and was featured at one of the sessions at RSA,” says Nair. “It’s very relevant to today because we were talking about how to secure data lakes, and it’s often data lakes that power things like artificial intelligence (AI).”

In February 2023, Nair joined Capgemini Americas in her current role as Vice President, Head of Cybersecurity Services. She says her work expanding community partnerships through Capgemini has been some of her most rewarding work at the company. When she joined, Capgemini had an established partnership with the faith-based organization City of Refuge through which the company supports cybersecurity job training programs.

“Getting involved with the City of Refuge has been something that I truly enjoy. I advocated for everybody in my team to join as mentors because I believe that you learn a lot of skills when you’re a mentor. Teachers learn the skills of being able to understand what somebody needs to be a success, which strengthens the mentee and the mentor,” Nair says.

In addition to her mentorship efforts through City of Refuge, Nair is one of the leaders of the Cyber Angels program at Capgemini. As part of this program, she spearheads efforts to empower and enhance the cybersecurity skills of women to take up leadership roles. Nair is also an active member of ISACA, volunteering with the One in Tech foundation on the board of the Greater Washington, D.C. (GWDC) chapter. In her chapter board position, Nair worked to grow the association’s GWDC chapter to more than 5,000 members. She has recently been awarded the 2024 ISACA Technology for Humanity Award, with the citation: “For leadership in creating and supporting programs that advance the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, women and underrepresented populations.” She is also on the board of advisors for the Transformative Leadership Program at Shenandoah University.

When asked what she’s learned about leadership over her three-decade-long cybersecurity career, Nair says it’s more important than ever to take the time to understand your team.

“I believe that you should lead from the trenches,” she reflects. “Leadership is not about me just telling people to work harder. It’s about us working together towards that goal of securing our clients and helping them protect and defend themselves from attacks.”