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Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) is a non-profit membership organization that is dedicated to recruiting, retaining and advancing women in cybersecurity. They offers mentoring, learning, networking, and career development to women at all stages of their cyber security careers. Every year, WiCyS set up an in-person event to recruit, retain and advance women in cybersecurity. However, this year the management went forward with a virtual event. Why?
As thousands of scheduled events were affected by the COVID-19 chaos, so was WiCyS’s spring event. But this kind of a challenge was one that the WiCyS was ready to embrace, and face with hyper-focused steps to move forward.
While on the brink of cancellation, the leadership team could not undermine the dedication and the time invested for over a year into making this event a success. So, keeping under consideration the lack of viability of an in-person event during the covid, they devised a strategy to pivot towards a virtual event to ensure the outcomes that they had planned for. The aim was to create an environment where people felt they belonged, could collaborate and grow together, and WiCys Virtual 20 was going to be nothing less of it.
WiCyS Virtual 20, against all odds, took place on the 15th of April 2020. Using the vFairs platform, Lynn Dohm, Executive Director, WiCyS, crafted a bold and drastic strategy knowing their mission had to be served, regardless of a pandemic.
The objective that was in place was to continue to form connections between women who were ready to be recruited with companies who were ready to hire. For this, WiCyS benefited from the following online features, taking their event into the realms of success.
It wasn’t just any event for WiCyS, but one that uplifted attendees during a globally challenging time. Something that only true leaders would dare to do. By creating an environment that was well-lit, with rays of sunshine seeping through the glass building, and surrounded with palm trees, the team at WiCyS aimed to set up a cheerful atmosphere for their audience amid testing times. The purpose of this insightful design was to enhance the experience of every visitor setting foot (virtually) at the event.
Moreover, WiCyS was able to make the most out of customizations in terms of the avatars that they used. Not only were they animated, but belonged to different ethnicities, promoting inclusivity as a major part of their event. They also paid great attention to detail, especially by choosing to have about 90% of their avatars as women.
There is no doubt that WiCyS looked a challenge in the eye and reacted by recreating an immersive experience for their attendees in the form of a virtual event.
Like any physical event, the WiCyS Virtual 20 had a number of employers exhibiting their vacancies at the event. This included top global organizations such as Bloomberg, Google, Nike, Cisco, AWS, Facebook, and many others. While some might say virtual events cannot entirely replicate the essence of a physical event, our prime example is that of WiCyS, who proved the hypothesis untrue.
This virtual environment enabled attendees to no longer stand in long queues or navigate through crowded spaces, as they could visit a booth simply with a click. Booth visitors had the opportunity to:
On the other hand, employers had an opportunity for global branding and recognition on a virtual platform that was being accessed by talent belonging to various parts of the world.
As stated earlier, WiCyS Virtual 20 was set up to build connections between women in cybersecurity, who were ready to be recruited, and companies who were seeking unique talent.
One might wonder, networking and building connections from oceans apart? The virtual event was the only place that made it possible, as well as effective.
Employers at the event displayed the timings they could be reached at, so that candidates could interact with them using 1:1 text, audio and video chat in real time. And vice versa. Moreover, they were also a part of group chats that had relevant topics under discussion.
What’s important to notice is that, while nothing compares to in-person networking, virtual fairs provide an opportunity to cut through the crowd, and lower the hassle of meeting hundreds of irrelevant individuals in order to finally reach the right candidate or employer. This is how WiCyS enabled its audience to find value at the event.
WiCyS set a stage for live webinars as well as presentations in a virtual auditorium. The timings for every session had been displayed for the audience before the commencement so they could schedule their routine according to the session they were interested in.
This kept audiences engaged and attentive, unlike physical events where they would be required to sit through all the sessions to attend the one that they wanted to, only to find themselves all worked up by the end of it.
What takes traditional hiring so long? The fact that employers have to go through thousands of resumes to find the one that seems to match their criterion. WiCyS made this process faster and smarter by adding a ‘search’ option where employers could use certain filters and obtain a list of favourable candidates. This made shortlisting as effective as could ever be.
Every session that was conducted was stored and made available in something known as the ‘video vault’. In addition to that, all resources were present for whoever wished to access them at point of the event, and even afterwards. Attendees could simply add any of these videos or resources to their “swag bag” for later viewing.
The virtual event provided users with 24/7 customer support with a team of representatives available for assistance and query resolution throughout the duration of the event. Not just that, it provided the host as well as all the involved stakeholders with support from the event providers themselves.
Virtual events are known for their eco-friendly nature, and WiCyS happened to be one of those who made a repeated positive impact by hosting their event online, not just this spring, but also in the fall. This, therefore, reduced waste produced by:
Amid a global crisis, where not only was the physical distance a challenge, but so was the hiring freeze across several regions, WiCyS Virtual 20 set up a remarkable event. With a striking employer experience, satisfied candidates, and high rates of applications, vFairs’ reporting dashboard captured one of the most successful ROIs for this event. The performance of the event was therefore supported by the following stats:
The team at WiCyS worked with an ambitious goal in mind, encouraging women in cyber security to participate, free of cost, and empower themselves in a world that has never been ideal for many. The data that was collected not only proved the vFairs enablement to be a success but the objective to be seamlessly fulfilled.
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