Stevens' Students Merge Business and Tech Expertise to Win Cybersecurity Competition
Accounting and computer engineering duo part of the team that presents winning case study.
The 2023 ISACA New York Metropolitan Chapter Cybersecurity Case Study Competition was a case study itself, showcasing the power of collaboration and cross-functional teamwork.
ISACA is a global leader in advancing digital trust by helping information system and information technology professionals improve their skills in audit, cybersecurity, emerging technology, and more. This year’s competition was sponsored by major IT companies, including Google and TrendMicro.
Elizabeth Foster, an accounting and analytics major, and Victoria Beke, a computer engineering major with minors in applied mathematics and cybersecurity, along with three students from Baruch College, earned the top honors in this year’s contest. Students were asked to consult for a company contemplating a merger with another organization that experienced a cyberware infiltration and attack.
Building the team
Accounting professor Arion Cheong brought the idea to Elizabeth because of her “analytic mindset” and “capability to make those kinds of professional judgments” that she demonstrated during her time in his classroom.
Elizabeth then went to work recruiting more members of the team, and Victoria’s computer engineering background and interest in cybersecurity made her the perfect fit. To fill out the team, Professor Cheong reached out to ISACA, and the Stevens’ duo was integrated into the three-person team from Baruch.
Despite the physical distance and unfamiliarity, the team quickly realized their business and tech backgrounds “complemented each other pretty well in terms of what sections or parts of the project that we were able to handle,” Victoria explained.
“It was similar with the rest of our teammates from Baruch,” she continued. “Where any of us were lacking in some knowledge, we always had someone else on the team who could make up for that."
The group didn’t just learn from each other in an academic sense. Elizabeth and Victoria, both juniors, picked up valuable lessons in working with a team of varied life experiences despite never meeting in person.
"Our teammates at Baruch had very different lives than Victoria and me. They were all grad students and two of them had children. We got to meet people and work with people that we wouldn't normally work with in a Stevens environment."
The intersection of business and technology
At first glance, an accounting major in a cybersecurity competition might sound perplexing but it’s the foundation of what is taught at Stevens and, according to Professor Cheong accounting firms are seeking “people who have the accounting mindset and the understanding of technology.”
“Our students acquire knowledge in accounting, analytics, and technologies together, fostering an innovative mindset,” he said.
That blend of baseline business knowledge coupled with the ability to navigate and understand computer science and cybersecurity systems was vital to the team’s success, providing, as Elizabeth put it “a good building block for the study.”
The team’s victory is an impressive accomplishment, but its effect goes beyond a resume bullet point. If Elizabeth continues her current trajectory, ISACA members will become an integral part of her network, and according to Professor Cheong she has “demonstrated how well our accounting and analytics students are prepared to contribute to the professional community.”
Elizabeth will immediately be able to put her experience to work as an intern in KPMG’s tech assurance department, which closely aligns with the competition case study. Victoria is set to intern for the Port Authority’s facility construction support division.
"Elizabeth and Victoria have demonstrated to the IT and audit community that our students exhibit remarkable proficiency and talent,” said Professor Cheong. “They are fully equipped to excel in this era of innovation.”