Metropolitan Magazine

Page 108

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Natasha Pelak A SOCIAL BUTTERFLY AT THE BLEEDING EDGE OF CYBERSECURITY

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mergency vehicles and bomb squads blocked the perimeter around Microsoft headquarters in New York City where a manhole cover had just exploded just as Pelak’s cybersecurity event reached capacity. The beautiful and edgy Natasha Pelak is not your typical technology space devotee. A witty, fashionable social entrepreneur with a penchant for photography and art, she rather identifies as an engaging individual who cares deeply about the changes that affect our society on a global scale, and remains an avid supporter of the ever-evolving and rapidly changing cybersecurity industry. We met at an upscale photo shoot, and between beguiling sessions, the original thinker made sure to articulate her passion for an industry that is indispensable to our future yet less acknowledged by popular belief. Far from being a glamorous world, cybersecurity is at the core of what sustains and protects all industries on a global scale, ranging from intellectual property protection to national security and critical infrastructure.

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BY VIRGILIA VIR JOGHE Due to the always increasing volume of mobile users and technology applications, computer viruses and hacking attacks are more frequent than ever, requiring constant attention and education. Pelak’s world revolves around promoting strategies that showcase the incentives and indispensability of technology innovation. Her most recent endeavor was orchestrating the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project 501c) Innovation Showcase at the Microsoft Headquarters in New York City. Building a foundation for her company, Natasha Pelak and Associates, a boutique marketing strategy firm, required many years of ardent research, vision and persistence in finding her niche market, and building a strong network. She is firm believer in teamwork and strong, effective communication and execution, and aims to build an all-women team in the future. How do you feel operating in a male-dominated field in relation to sexism and objectification? “Women are welcomed in cybersecurity, however, it has taken me years to build credibility. The business model in digital forensics, cyber intelligence or enterprise security changes every six months. Adaptability, agility

and intuition are highly valued in this field because the talent pool is small and the assignments are sometimes critical to national security. Because the bar is set high, and entry isn’t easy, in order to survive in this field you need to act with integrity, always. Rooting your business model with strong ethics is the key to lasting success.” Natasha is passionate about being part of an everevolving, learning environment, where compassion brings us together though an elevated, conscious effort to remain connected in a world that has the tendency to rather disconnect us. Her events have the impact of a TED Talk where bright minds debate and offer solutions to existing problems. You may call her an idealist in the very specific field of technology, but one can never underestimate the power of the butterfly effect. She certainly adds an enticing dimension to a field that is expected to prominently feature women. And I am sure we have only seen but a fraction of its capabilities

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