In conversation with Reetwika Banerjee by Bishakha Jain

Team Reflections have had the oppurtunity of interviewing Ms.Reetwika Banerjee who is a professional Cyber Security Expert, presently associated with a North American media giant as their Enterprise Data Privacy Consultant. During leisure hours, Reetwika enjoys travelling, writing fiction (films, stories and poetry), travel blogs and movies in English, Hindi and Bengali languages. She is often invited by eminent organizations for guest speaking, judging literary contests, poetry slams, social journalism and delivering innovative research on literature.Reetwika’s writing desk comprises of seven solo books which have won her five World and National records and multiple international awards. Reetwika is also an award winning film writer.She has received the following international awards for her literary works since 2017:-

  1. ‘Author of the Year 2017-18’ by The Indian AwazTM (India)
  2. ‘Global Author of the Year 2018’ by © Power is You (USA)
  3. ‘National Book Honour Award 2018’ for Enta Habibi book under Relationships category (India)
  4. ‘100 Inspiring Authors of the Year 2018’ by The Indian AwazTM (India)
  5. ‘Kavi Salam 2018’ by Poetry Paradigm (India)
  6. ‘50 Influential Authors 2018’ by The Spirit Mania (India)
  7. ‘International Icon of Literature’ by Contemporary Literary Society of UP (India)
  8. NE8x ‘Global Author of the Year 2018’
  9. ‘Creative Contestant’ at Global Women Writer’s Fest 2018 by Fuzia
  10. Recognized at International Women Writers and Artists Virtual Meet 2018 by Fuzia

So without any more introduction let’s get into conversation with her.

Question: Describe yourself in 5 words?

Answer: I am a SCITizen – That’s my identity.

Question: How do you juggle between writing and corporate life and be equally involved in both?

Answer: I strongly believe, where there is passion, there is time. And that’s the mantra I learnt while in SCIT – then it was juggling between semesters and college club events and now it is hard core Corporate job and writing.

Question:What are your views on Women involved in information security?

Answer: Well I see a stark upswing in diversity leadership and entrepreneurship in the info security spectrum over last five years. However, the ratio is still very low to set a benchmark.Being in the industry for quite some time now, I strongly feel we SCITizens can really make a big difference in the years to come. The techno-managerial edge what we get even as a fresher, induces the perfect escape velocity to gallop through the info sec corporate ladder.

Question:What inspired you to follow your passion for writing and take it to next level altogether?

Answer: Realistic dreams make passions possible. I just followed my dreams.

Question:What are the challenges you have experienced in your journey?

Answer: Success does not feel sweet till you bleed on way. Faced immense hardship while getting a publisher for my first book. Had to accept 52 rejections till my first script was accepted. Even today, there are only limited players in the publishing industry who promote new and young Indian authors. So, my age too went against me.Secondly, when the book was launched, I was exposed to extreme criticism from the grey haired reviewers who disregarded my concept of micro story (shorter than a short story) and spoken English style of narration (easy to understand by anyone who knows the language basics). Many of them said, if it is not difficult for readers to understand what the author means to say, then it does not qualify as a piece of literature. For them, English literature still means old British English framework, habit of testing reader’s vocabs by placing tough words to describe simple things and overuse of complex sentences.But challenges make my determination firmer. I kept my nerves strong, waiting patiently for the silver lining. After three years when I was credited both World and National records for introducing the new concept of ‘Micro story’ in Modern English Literature, all those grey hairs faded in the dark. And there was no looking back for me thereafter.

Question:How has writing changed your life?

Answer: Those who know me personally knows how introvert I am. A happy loner what I call myself. Writing has made me a silent observer now. It helps me in character sketching for my stories and films.

Question:How did you get started with the idea of taking up writing as a career along with Information Security in parallel?

Answer: I am still a full time Cyber Security professional. Writing is my hobby and no way a secondary career.I have also written a nonfiction book on info security titled ‘Cyber security at your fingertips’. It was ceremoniously launched at New Town Book Fair 2018 by Judge of Bangalore High Court Mr. Gautam Ray (Retd) and Senior Advocate of Calcutta High Court Mr. Biman Saha. The launch was followed by a live cyber security talk show where I was the invited speaker.Apart from this, I am associated as an honourary columnist with a multinational newsportal named ‘Different Truths’ where I keep talking about modern-day cybercrimes and solutions in my weekly column.I am also one of the invited authors of ‘Infoquest Global’, the flagship security journal of Infosec Foundation.

Question:Why according to you is Information Security important?

Answer: In today’s techno wondrous world, everyone uses smart gadgets from bottom of pyramid till the apex. And with each additional degree of smartness there comes enhanced cyber risks. So, info sec has become a daily talk in our life these days. It’s no more a techie’s topic. Washing hands off from cyber threats would dig our own pits.I would suggest all to read my book on info security titled ‘Cyber security at your fingertips’ which comprises of twenty state of the art cybercrimes which rocked the industrial as well as common users of information technology in the last few years. It also contains my jargon free simple security tips which can be easily followed by anyone, even from nontech background to lead a safe cyber life.

Question:What are the major opportunities in this field?

Answer: As per a recent report, I found that info sec domain is expected to prosper the highest by 2022 by when more regulations like GDPR will probe in. India too is going to witness its first data privacy law by end of this year.Even 3rd world countries like Bangladesh is hosting its first cyber security symposium in this month (I feel lucky to be an invited delegate to represent my country as a face of Indian women in security there).So, there is no doubt info sec has become the bread and butter of all technology dependent countries and eventually to cut across all the industries in no time.

Question:Your message to the budding women in Information Security?

Answer: There is a lot of business focus on diversity leadership in the security domain. I, being one of the middle management faces of women in security in my company, an integral part of organization’s GDPR taskforce and the offshore security lead of North American geography, vouch for the heightening scope for women in the next couple of years.

Question:Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?

Answer: A Filmfare winner scriptwriter

Question:From being an Information Security Professional to a writer who has national and world records in her bag, how did you land in filmography?

Answer: Writing and scripting goes hand in hand. If you read my stories you will find them extremely cinematic, written in a way that can be readily adapted into films.Being a movie buff, I always dreamt to turn my own stories to films and by God’s grace, it clicked when one of my Director friends from Bollywood wanted to adapt one of my micro stories for a short film. I had no reason to say no. And subsequently I got into writing films (shorts, web series and daily soaps till now, working on an upcoming feature for 2020 release).

Question:There definitely would have been some highs and lows in your career paths, how do you handle them?

Answer: Patience and courage can take you anywhere and lack of them to nowhere.

Question:Your advice to youngsters wanting to pursue dual career like you?

Answer: Never allow yourself to get discouraged by critics. The more they assess you, the better you are in their eyes.And make success heard. Don’t feel ashamed of sharing your success stories with all.

Rapid Fire:

  1. Your favourite place: Home
  2. Your favourite films: Titanic (English), Antony Firingee (Bengali)
  3. Your favourite books: Tintin series (English), Kiriti Omnibus (Bengali)
  4. Your favourite food: Hummus Shawarma
  5. Your favourite writer: Anton Chekov (short stories)
  6. Your favourite SCIT memories: First day in the campus and Winning 19 laurels for SCIT at different intercollege business plan & paper presentation competitions
  7. Accomplishments you are proud of: 

Winning ‘Swami Vivekananda Excellence Award’ from Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs (GOI)

Getting nomination for ‘Dada Saheb Phalke Award 2019’ for my short film Hello Mamma

Getting crowned ‘Global Author of the Year 2018’ title from USA

       8.A must visit website for tech geeks: isaca.org (the Bible for infosec techies)

       9.Would you like to visit SCIT? For sure!

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