Alya J. Franklin: The Fearless Leader Making Strong Grounds for Women
1. Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers.
Aleada aims to educate and advise its clients to incorporate the important concept of privacy into all aspects of its business. This creates a culture of personal data protection that will build consumer trust, comply with privacy laws, and create a stronger competitive advantage in the market.
We want our clients to understand the value of using their data in responsible ways, not just to achieve compliance with privacy laws, but also to demonstrate to consumers and customers they can be trusted to protect personal data.
2. Give a brief overview of your background and your role in the company.
Aleada Partner and Co-Founder responsible for leading a variety of advisory projects in privacy compliance and information security governance. Alya also serves as an external Privacy Lead and Data Protection Officer role for global organizations. I also manage company finance and supporting operations, human resources; performance management, and business development.
I’ve always had an interest in technology, learning to code at age 8. I have a Master’s of Science in Decision and Information Science from the University of Florida. I started my career in external and internal technology auditing, risk management, and project management. I transitioned into privacy and information security consulting about 7 years ago.
3. What were the past experiences, achievements,s or lessons that shaped your journey as a successful women leader?
- Challenging myself outside of my normal role by taking on more responsibility or taking on projects with which I had no previous experience.
- Not making excuses for my lack of experience and getting the work done by being resourceful as well as utilizing the strength of team members and relationships to accomplish my goals.
- Operating outside of my comfort zone and asking for promotions
- Networking often, having great mentors to help me along the professional journey. And now passing on my experience and knowledge by mentoring the next generation of leaders in my field.
- Helping start a non-profit organization called Women in Security and Privacy (WISP). Seven years ago, I recognized along with six other women that there was a need to support our female peers and provide mentorship in the security and privacy field. Our mission is to advance women as well as minorities to become leaders in the converging fields of information security and privacy.
- I started a business with two amazing business partners who are also WISP board members, and close friends at a time when I had nothing to lose. We all came together desiring a professional change and were ready to take a risk to start a business without looking back. Our initial investment started with a ripped $20 bill we used to open up the business bank account.
- We built Aleada with a goal to build a culture and flexible work environment based on our values and a passion for privacy and technology while promoting diversity, entrepreneurship, and inspiring the next generation of leaders in privacy and data protection.
4. Kindly mention some of the primal challenges that you faced during the initial phase of your journey.
I started my career at a “big four” accounting firm primarily focused on external IT auditing, risk, and compliance. I worked endlessly on audit reports which informed our client’s issues that were identified and recommended solutions, but unfortunately could not help them implement the recommendations we provided due to audit independence requirements. I recognized that it was time to pivot my career. Now that I have my own company, I can focus on the clients and projects that where I feel I can add more value. I am honored to work with a diverse group of tech companies and their cross-functional teams to build efficient operational processes to mitigate privacy and information security risks. I now spend more time learning my client’s business operations and understanding the ever-changing challenges they are facing. This knowledge helps me to innovate and change their company culture so they can build consumer trust, increase transparency, and operate in a more privacy-aware environment.
5. Describe some of the vital attributes that every transformational leader should possess.
Lead with empathy and compassion; have confidence and take risks; treat others with respect, and take time to mentor future leaders.
6. How do you innovate your products/solutions that appeal to your target audience?
At Aleada we anticipate how rapid changes to technology and innovation impact how companies may adapt and evolve their culture to weave in privacy and data protection as their products and services change.
7. How are disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Deep Learning/ Automation/Cloud Computing/Big Data impacting today’s innovation and how has the role of a leader has changed over the years?
There is a lot to cover on each topic; however, leaders must think strategically about the longer-term risks and benefits of emerging technologies.
One of the biggest risks being discussed is related to quantum computing. The increasing power of quantum computers will have significant advantages and risks to how we use and protect data. Although different quantum machines will solve problems faster and make predictions differently that will benefit many industries, it is expected that quantum computers could break public-key cryptography in this decade. This may not happen for several years but this will impact the companies who rely on this widely used encryption approach to protect their data. As the power and speed of quantum computing rapidly increase, companies should continuously assess their information security risks and impacts on their organization. They need to consider what appropriate measures and compensating actions are needed to proactively prepare for the power of quantum computers, which could threaten public-key cryptography. On a positive note, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is already developing post-quantum cryptography and a standard is expected by 2023. Other companies are also researching quantum-safe cryptography alternatives. Organizations should conduct ongoing research on advantages and implications before adopting new approaches to data protection.
Optional – Cloud computing has been around for some time. This has allowed smaller companies to scale quickly and use available technology resources without having a large IT department. However, it does introduce many risks concerning information security that may not be recognized without the right expertise and experience.
8. How do you see the company and the industry in the future ahead?
Aleada’s platform includes people, processes, and technology that will continue to evolve as privacy laws change and as companies continue to innovate. Companies will rely on us more to navigate them through and manage the complex regulatory privacy landscape so they can focus on their business.
9. What is your advice for budding or emerging women leaders?
Take proactive steps to lead initiatives at your company, know the current and emerging trends in your industry, contribute to thought leadership, and make time to mentor and support other women in their career development. Take risks when you know you do not have anything to lose and do not get discouraged when things do not work out as your plan in the beginning. A professional career will always have many course corrections along the way.