For the vast majority of people who use the internet, my work is completely invisible –and that’s how it’s supposed to be.
I work in identity, a branch of security within computer science. My job is to make sure authenticated identities of users online have access to the right digital services. You can think of it this way: when you go to schedule a calendar invite, you just expect it to work. But your email provider needs to know who you are, and if you have the permissions to access the calendar. Invisible tech enables this action–and countless others. From end users to developers, to administrators, we try to give people as little to think and worry about as possible.
Currently, I am a Principal Architect at Auth0, which is an Okta product unit. Prior to joining Auth0, I spent over 17 years at Microsoft becoming an expert in this space. I’m very privileged that over the years of my career, I built up enough altitude that now I can propose and enact impactful changes that are adopted across the entire tech world.
But I didn’t initially set out to pursue this career path. In fact, I didn’t study this space at all. My dissertation for my masters degree was on computational geometry, which has nothing to do with identity. But I have been driven by the opportunity to grow within the space over the years and the knowledge that my work can have a huge impact in the life of a lot of people. For example, if you have ever used Microsoft online products, chances are that you use features I touched. As part of my advocacy, I am on the board of directors of OpenID Foundation, I work on the IETF, and I work with W3C, which is the standards body for the web. My goal: to be as considerate toward developers as possible.
It’s not a very glamorous field, because when you’re good at what we do, demonstrating our technology means not a lot visibly happens. I spend a lot of time telling people about our work because it may be invisible to many, but it’s essential to all.
In my current role, I represent Okta at conferences around the world, and I host a podcast to ensure there’s an understanding of what the industry is doing. The work is creative and impactful and I and I’m grateful to be in the position to help make it all happen. It can be incredibly inspiring to help build the systems of tomorrow through the lens of what’s possible, even if that work is behind the scenes.
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