Dr. Heather Buker: A Dynamic Blend of Technology Expertise, Passion and Innovation Opening New Doors in Cybersecurity

6clicks is an AI-powered GRC SaaS provider on a mission to protect consumers by providing a platform that helps businesses and advisors demonstrate compliance, improve cybersecurity, and reimagine risk. Founded in 2019, the 6clicks is underpinned by three core characteristics that still power the platform today. First comes the company’s unique Hub & Spoke multi-tenancy architecture, which makes deployment easy for advisors and businesses with autonomous teams, secondly, Hailey, 6click’s own AI engine, and lastly, the company’s fully integrated content library. These three characteristics set 6clicks apart in the industry.

A Tale of a Techie 

Dr. Heather Buker is the Chief Technology Officer of 6clicks. Her love for technology started long ago when she began participating in problem-solving and coding competitions at Technology Student Association (TSA) events back in middle school. This led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She was then introduced to the cybersecurity career field, specifically, through her first employer out of college. Then the rest is history.

Dr. Heather has been a technical subject matter expert in the cybersecurity space throughout her career, starting from developing cybersecurity software to consulting, service delivery, solution architecting, product management, and everything in between across most industry verticals. Having spent the entirety of her cyber career in identity and access management (IAM) or the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) spaces, Dr. Heather decided to pursue a Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) degree and a concentration in information assurance and cybersecurity. Now, she specializes in translating business needs and facilitating solutions to complex cyber and GRC use cases with technology.

As the CTO of 6clicks, Dr. Heather is primarily responsible for representing strategic market trends and the client base to the development team, bridging between need and functionality delivery, and driving product strategy. She believes that business leaders must stay abreast of the innovative domains in the market before their competitors while balancing the needs of the customer base to maintain a robust GRC solution simultaneously. Dr. Heather helps to spearhead that effort for the company.

Beating the Societal Norms to Emerge Victoriously

Dr. Heather accredits her success to her alma mater. She attended a very small engineering school, RHIT, in Indiana for undergraduate and graduate degrees, then she decided to pursue computer engineering. She describes that there are two strikes – a solely STEM college and CPE. These are the two areas that women didn’t readily pursue at the time. Dr. Heather was a woman in a program that consisted of 95% men, where she was intimidated, often struggled to navigate, and frankly wasn’t that successful within her major initially.

Now, she is grateful for that experience and for diving headfirst into technology and STEM. She has learned a lot of lessons about how to work well in teams with differing personalities, ask the right questions and collaborate with others, and be resourceful. It helped shape her into the confident, outspoken, and determined leader that she is today.

Turning Pain Points into Purposes

Dr. Heather opines that one of the most difficult parts of remaining on the path toward leadership and success was not getting discouraged by a mistake that she made or by the negative opinions of others. She adds that there will be failures and people who would dissuade in one way or another along the way. The hardest part was learning those lessons and continuing to persevere through them.

Investing in People, A Must for Leaders 

According to Dr. Heather, every leader should have patience, self-awareness, and integrity. Patience is needed to understand that not everyone they lead will communicate, understand, and learn in the same way. Leaders must mold their leadership style to a degree that the individuals they train are able to lead effectively. This will take patience and understanding with those they lead.

Self-awareness is imperative to encourage continuous development and the ability to recognize faults is also important. A great leader understands that they will never be perfect. Being self-aware gives the leader the ability to grow and mature in their style while improving on their areas of weakness. Leaders must strive to continuously improve their ways if they expect their teams to do the same.

Dr. Heather states that people want to work with and for a leader they can trust, not a leader they feel they must question the direction of. A leader without integrity won’t succeed or truly lead at all. Being honest and moral is critical to the success and effectiveness of a good leader.

Innovation as a Trigger to Make Robust Products 

Within the context of the dynamic nature of cybersecurity at 6clicks, Dr. Heather claims that they take a proactive and deliberate approach to innovation to bring unique and robust products to the GRC market. This has been quite evident since the company’s inception with its employment of artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and multi-tenancy capabilities, which help streamline and automate typical GRC use cases for consumers. To remain at the forefront of innovation, the team uses a combination of client feedback, market trend analysis, discussions with industry analysts, and subject matter experts to ensure it is serving the needs of its current client base and meeting the expectations of the target audience. This ensures that the company’s products offer flexibility, scalability, and distinctive value to many industry verticals.

Denting the Leadership Space with Technology

Disruptive technologies are causing organizations to innovate at an increased rate and consider solutions to problems that consumers may not know even exists yet. Dr. Heather thinks this has caused a necessary shift in mindset among cybersecurity leaders. From her perspective, the role of a leader has historically been one to combat and solve problems after they have already risen. Today, this role is expected to be and should be, much more forward-thinking and one that can solve potential issues before they happen. With technology advancing faster than we can sometimes keep track of, this expectation of a modern-day leader is a given.

Riding the Cyberthreat Wave with AI and ML

The threat environment is always growing, and the “bad guys” are continuously working to advance their goals. Dr. Heather claims that she is unsure whether they will see a day when cyber threats have decreased. This means the importance for an organization to combat threats, maintain visibility into their entire cybersecurity landscape, and implement preventative measures have never been greater and will continue to rise. The future of cybersecurity and using predictive analytics to prevent cyber-related incidents is artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the use of AI and ML technologies, organizations can continue to strive for a proactive response to cybersecurity threats as opposed to the more reactive nature that we’ve seen historically. 6clicks is seeing incredible growth globally because of its AI-powered solution and will continue to innovate and pave the path forward for AI-driven GRC applications.

‘Determination’ as the Ladder to Success

Dr. Heather suggests aspiring women leaders to not let anything or anyone hold them back from pursuing excellence in their chosen career fields – whether it is cybersecurity or otherwise. She asks them to persevere with patience. “Success won’t come overnight, but it will surely come if there is a determination to excel,” she adds.

“Take the time to observe and learn from the leaders around you. Share ideas and proactively engage with other leaders in the field,” suggests Dr. Heather. She further says that there’s a great deal that one can learn through the trials, failures, and successes of others.

Lastly, she asserts that emerging leaders should never be afraid or second-guess themselves. They won’t be right all the time and will surely have missteps. However, they will learn to grow, given they take the opportunity.

“Be confident, own your voice, and go after it,” concludes Dr. Heather.


Management: Dr. Heather Buker, Chief Technology Officer, 6clicks

Quote: “The future of cybersecurity and successfully combatting threats lies in how proactive and predictive we remain. The market will continue to look for advanced technologies, like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, to provide predictive analytics and aid this effort.”

– Dr. Heather Buker, Chief Technology Officer, 6clicks

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