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Updated: Aug 29, 2023   |  

Ten Up and Coming Security Leaders

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In the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of cybersecurity and technology, it is important to recognize those around us who are pushing boundaries and setting new standards. This series highlights those individuals, while bringing light to their achievements and positive impact within our industry. To select these leaders, we searched LinkedIn and notable lists, such as Forbes 30 under 30, to find people who are passionate about making innovative products and contributions in cybersecurity, while recognizing there are many other ways to succeed outside of the industry as well. This can include making a difference in one’s community, seeking philanthropic work, or educating others within or outside of cybersecurity. There are positive role models all around us, and we are thrilled to bring attention to the individuals selected here today. Read on to explore the stories of ten up and coming thought leaders and their contributions to the future. 

Steven Carlson

Steven Carlson

Steven Carlson has a fervor for clean, secure code. With over a decade of leadership roles experience, his work consistently surpasses expectations as a Cloud Security Architect. His intrinsic motivation to learn and impart knowledge showcases not only his personal commitment to self-improvement but also to the growth of those around him. Steven's positive attitude coupled with his mentoring skills have proven to be invaluable assets, creating an environment where both he and his associates thrive.

In the sphere of information security, Steven has introduced dynamic approaches. He shares enlightening "war stories" that provide insightful perspectives on the dos and don'ts in the sector. Steven emphasizes the importance of integrating threat modeling within the Software Development Life Cycle, while also ensuring engineering and security teams are building trust. Through his enlightening talks, Steven has showcased the harmonious blend of DevOps with traditional application security practices, advocating for a culture where security becomes an everyday focus. From his commitment to clean code and security to his leadership in bridging the gap between DevOps and traditional security practices, Carlson's dedication to continuous learning and mentoring sets a standard in the realm of information security, stressing the importance of fostering trust and making security a daily priority.

Pauleine Adorio

Pauline Adorio

Pauleine Adorio has great expertise in IT infrastructure and security, evident through her impact and mentality. Her passion and commitment shine in her endeavors to provide organizations with state-of-the-art IT infrastructure and proactive security solutions. With a blend of deep industry knowledge and a zest for innovation, Pauleine understands the intricacies of the evolving cybersecurity landscape, while also possessing the ability to craft tailored IT strategies that ensure network security, compliance, and business continuity.

Beyond her technical expertise, Pauleine also exhibits fine-tuned interpersonal skills that make her an asset within the IT realm. She instills confidence in her clients and partners, as says Jahleel Jerahmae Balangue, “Pauleine, with her unwavering confidence, made me assured of the best solutions to challenges that we faced, even when there were few options to employ, indeed, she was a shoulder to lean on.” As someone who seeks optimal solutions even in challenging situations, Pauleine has proved that she's not just a problem solver but also a trusted ally to lean on. Her dedication to expanding outreach across industries and her role as a liaison supports her knack for creating growth and ensuring seamless communication between clients and companies. Pauleine Adorio's expertise in IT infrastructure and security is complemented by her ability to lead collaboration, making her not only a cybersecurity leader, but also a dependable ally.

Shrav Mehta

Shrav MehtaStarting as a prodigious teenager who had the knack for developing mobile apps, some of which made it to the top charts with millions of installs, Shrav Mehta most recently founded Secureframe in 2020. Secureframe is an avant-garde platform for security compliance automation that has achieved prestigious milestones such as being recognized by Forbes as one of the Next Billion-Dollar Startups. The platform is also revolutionizing how enterprises address compliance standards like HIPAA and SOC 2. It has brought in a whopping projected $20 million in revenue in just a year, and has also raised $79 million from investors.

Shrav has taken a diverse set of roles throughout his career, from marketing to engineering, which showcase his multifaceted capabilities. He’s been a part of many esteemed organizations like, which secured massive valuations and backing from stalwarts like Jeff Bezos. Shrav’s hands-on role in the creation of Secureframe, which seamlessly integrates with core services like AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure, and automates an enterprise’s compliance with the most rigorous global standards, shaped the bountiful future of the company. Articles highlighting Secureframe's impact, such as "This is How They Tell Me Secureframe Saves the World," amplify the influence Shrav brings to the table. With awards like Insider's Most Promising Startup of 2023, it's evident that Shrav Mehta is a force to be reckoned with in tech. His ability to take on a diverse set of roles makes him a jack of all trades, an invaluable asset that enhances his talent for developing apps and platforms.

Elisar Nurmagambetov

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Elisar Nurmagambetov began as a young immigrant hailing from Kazakhstan, now making great waves in the technology and finance sectors. Setting foot in the U.S. at the age of 18, his keen sense for detecting discrepancies led him to Carlsberg, where he focused on fraud prevention. This experience set him on the trajectory of creating Black Ice AI, an innovative startup that combines data from myriad sources to unmask cyber criminals involved in money laundering. Under Elisar's guidance, the company thrives without external funding and has secured a coveted contract with the U.S. government, applying its expertise in the PPP fraud investigation. Elisar has been included in both the Forbes 30 under 30 (2023) and Forbes Next 1000 (2021) lists as a result of his work.

Elisar's expertise doesn't end with Black Ice AI. He holds a commitment to ethical business practices and societal well-being through his advisory role at the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative, an organization that harnesses advanced investigative technology to combat modern slavery. Elisar was also previously President at FatBrain, where he focused on solutions for financial crime prevention and detection. From humble beginnings as an immigrant to his significant achievements in the realms of technology and finance, Elisar Nurmagambetov stands as a testament to resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment to ethical business.

Valentine Nwachukwu

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Valentine Nwachukwu, a first-generation immigrant from Nigeria, has been programming since the age of 12. Continuing his spark in tech, he founded Zaden Technologies in 2019, a venture that blends his experience from globally celebrated companies like Amazon, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. This Alabama-based company, under his leadership, secured an astounding $2 million in revenue by 2022, garnering attention from titans like Boeing and Northrop Grumman for their expertise in setting up software infrastructures efficiently.

Diving deeper into Valentine's career, his roles span from revolutionizing software development processes at esteemed organizations to advocating for local African artists via Zedge Records, and reimagining the paradigm of social media through SpiinPiin. His time at Wind River showcases his ability to manage complex software deployments, safeguard mission-critical systems, and streamline operational efficiencies as well. He also boasts significant accomplishments at Amazon Web Services and Northrop Grumman. Valentine Nwachukwu's journey from a young programmer to a founder of a thriving tech company highlights the potential of passion and determination, reminding us of the impact one individual can make when they combine technical ingenuity with a vision to revolutionize industries.

Christopher Marcinko

Christopher MChristopher Marcinko has gathered 24+ years of expertise in the realm of Information Security and Privacy. His profound depth of technical judgement combined with an innate ability to troubleshoot, diagnose, and weave out inventive solutions to complex challenges gives credit to his position in the industry. His extensive familiarity with a spectrum of privacy standards, from SOX to ISO27000, shows his commitment to not just understand but excel in the domains he ventures into. The foundation of his professional journey is built on a strategy-first approach, emphasizing the significance of charting out robust information security strategies, policies, and programs that orchestrate seamless operations.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Christopher's human-centric perspective shines through. As a revered instructor, he's consistently earned accolades from his peers and students alike, exemplified by the enriching learning experiences he has provided in his time with (ISC)². Greg Bard testifies,

“I had the honor and privilege of attending a CCSP class that Chris was teaching.

I found Chris to be a very detailed, knowledgeable instructor that does a great job of relating real-world experiences to the lessons. Chris is very passionate about Information Security and teaching. He always encouraged the class to ask questions and was very amenable to providing timely and accurate responses.

I thoroughly enjoyed my learning experience with Chris. He is an outstanding teacher and very personable as well. He definitely knows his material well and presents well.”

As a senior leader at Avanade, his role goes beyond just solving intricate security and privacy problems; he displays exemplary leadership, guiding his team with clarity and purpose. Christopher's affiliation with esteemed organizations such as SecureWorld Advisory Council, HIMSS, and IAPP speaks to his dedication to fostering growth and innovation in the cybersecurity and privacy space. Reflecting on Christopher Marcinko's career, we recognize his commitment to excellence, but also his deeply human-centered approach, which has garnered him respect both as a leader and educator.

Iman Ghanizada

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Iman Ghanizada clearly demonstrates his sense of leadership and innovation particularly in his role as the Global Head of Autonomic Security at Google. He has translated his vision into reality by launching Autonomic Security Operations, a cutting-edge solution designed to empower enterprise security teams in their battle against evolving cyber threats. This new approach, complimented by Continuous Detection and Continuous Response (CD/CR) frameworks, bridges the gap between security engineering companies and traditional SOC models, establishing a new era in threat management.

Beyond his achievements in the corporate sphere, Iman has supported his thought leader position by authoring the critically acclaimed McGraw Hill Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect AIO Exam Guide, which not only became a 2021 #1 Top Rated New Release on Amazon but also serves as an essential resource for aspiring Cloud Architects. He also co-founded Afghan Refugee Relief, a noble initiative that assists Afghan refugees in resettling in America, revealing his dedication to making a meaningful impact on society. Iman also boasts a myriad of commendations from top-tier professionals, such at this one from Mel Reyes, Global Chief Information Officer and CISO:

“Thought leader! I would stop there, but Iman is so much more than that. His ability to educate, tell a story, display empathy, and make you feel good will leave you speechless. He has been a brilliant mind in leading security efforts across enterprises and an incredibly generous giver. He is the kind of spirit every organization needs to build a culture of inclusion, empowerment, and teamwork.

The guy's a genius! He's a published author and mentor who is clearly on a mission to lead by example. Every security leader should keep their eyes on this ball of energy and brainpower, even if it's just to learn from him.”

With a well-balanced track record as a hands-on individual in cybersecurity and philanthropy, Iman is thought leader sure to inspire those he comes in contact with.

Dylan Ayrey, Dustin Decker, and Julian Dunning

Dylan ADustin DJulian D

Dylan, Dustin, and Julian are here to break through in the realm of cybersecurity with their company, Truffle Security Co. Each gentleman alone has an impressive track record that embodies excellence and innovation, but they prove only stronger when they come together.

Dylan Ayrey is the mastermind behind the groundbreaking open-source software TruffleHog, a software that runs behind the scenes to scan your environment for secrets like private keys and credentials, so you can protect your data before a breach occurs. In 2021, he collaborated with Julian Dunning and Dustin Decker to form Truffle Security, amassing a staggering $15.2 million in funding from esteemed investors. Their groundbreaking venture leverages TruffleHog's capabilities, offering businesses a reliable tool to preemptively safeguard their sensitive data.

Outside of Truffle Security Co., Julian and Dustin have also gathered prestigious expertise. Julian Dunning has experience at leading roles in Cruise and Praetorian, which showcase his capability to lead and shape security strategies, reinforcing the cyber defenses of top-tier companies. Julian was also recognized as a finalist in the DEFCON24 Social Engineering CTF and hosts various speaking engagements that further attest to his leadership and influence in the community. Dustin Decker has had roles at Cruise and, which attest to the wealth of experience he brings to the Truffle Security team. These three powerhouses, with their combined expertise and shared vision, are unmistakably setting new paradigms in the world of cybersecurity.


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