Jameeka Green Aaron has had many significant accomplishments in her career in technology and security thus far, but just as impressive are her passion and dedication to mentoring, championing and encouraging women and people of color to pursue careers in technology, engineering and security and see themselves in careers and leadership positions they may not have otherwise even thought existed.
Aaron has worked with a number of organizations to uplift those behind her, including the National Urban League of Young Professionals, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), U.C. Riverside Design Thinking Program, U.S. Department of State’s TechWomen program and more. She has watched and mentored college students in their early 20s and has been around long enough to the see them embark on their own careers and even excel to management and senior management roles.
“I realized one of the ways you can create change is very early in the pipeline and mentoring seemed like the best way to impact the pipeline and quickly became part of my passion,” she reflects. Several years ago at a NSBE conference, Aaron had the privilege to see several women that she (and her husband) had helped mentor in the past. “They told us how impactful we have been and it was really touching. Knowing that they were watching and listening to us and then being able to see their growth has been so fulfilling.”
Aaron deeply believes that it is one of her missions to be a champion for young professionals as well as a champion for diversity within the industry. “When you land in a leadership role, you understand that what you do next is you turn around and lift other people up. A big part of my job outside of the day-to-day is to continue to be a beacon for women and people of color in our industry,” she says.
In addition to her focus on making the industry better by encouraging and fostering talent of the future, Aaron brings another valuable (and unique) asset to the industry and to each company she’s worked with: her breadth of experience. “I have bounced all over security and I do believe that should happen more. People shouldn’t be siloed; we need to cross more industries, which I believe results in better security professionals and better retention rates,” Aaron says.
Aaron started her career in the U.S. Navy as an information technology specialist for more than nine years. “The goal was to transform our naval networks and as the years went by I started doing threat hunting and learning about security. I would say officially halfway through my Navy career I was a ‘security’ person,” she says.
Following the U.S. Navy, Aaron joined Lockheed Martin for close to nine years, where she managed information security for the Orion spacecraft that first launched in 2014, as well as held a variety of roles that culminated in Chief of Staff for International and Infrastructure Technology.
But during her time at Lockheed Martin, even more significant for Aaron was the CIO she got to work with that really impressed upon her career. “She was an exceptionally talented woman, and I learned so much about leadership and about business from her,” she says.
Aaron later transitioned into the retail industry where she worked at Nike, then Hurley, then Bluestar Alliance and United Legwear Apparel, focusing on significant digital transformation projects and supply chain security ramp ups.
Throughout her career, Aaron’s skillset and ability to cross silos has allowed her to forge relationships with professionals across industries, departments and positions. One of those relationships was Joan Pepin, previous CISO of Auth0, who gave Aaron a call when she was leaving the position and encouraged her to consider taking the role.
Now, current CISO of Auth0, Aaron says that while taking a holistic approach to compliance and product security is familiar, one of her newest challenges lies in being a CISO for a company that also creates security products. “It’s a bit different than every other job I have had, because the challenge is greater, approaching security internally but also for the products we create,” she says.
Another challenge is keeping up with the constant innovation. She tries to take a very honest, realistic approach to mitigation. “While we work to keep the enterprise safe, the hackers are working double time. It’s something that will never go away. For every new technology that appears, we have a security person working hard to keep pace and secure that technology. We have to move at the speed of innovation and sometimes we don’t get it right away — I think that is what makes it difficult but also what makes it fun as well. We are always learning, growing, and protecting at a rapid-fire pace.”