Jennifer Minella grew up in the shadow of the company she now helps run. When she was five, her father founded Carolina Advanced Digital in the basement of their home. After attending North Carolina School of Science and Math and moving on to college, she held various positions in the company, ranging from web services management to technical sales and eventually engineering.
“I spent several years immersing myself in the technology, taking training and certifications, reading IEEE standards, researching and testing in the lab,” says Minella. “Over time, my responsibilities morphed again to an engineering consulting role within the company. I began writing articles.”
In her present position as VP of engineering at Carolina Advanced Digital, she manages the firm's consulting and professional services, and is one of four principals helping drive business strategy and execution of initiatives ranging from engineering to marketing and communications.
“A mentor of mine always said the traditional dictionary meaning of security had to do with feelings – ‘the state of feeling safe, stable and free from fear,'” Minella says. “When I consider security now, I see it as an evolutionary process, something iterative, imperfect and polymorphous. Even the definition of security has changed.”
Her peers note her seamless integration of skill sets that includes leadership and attitude as some of her signature strengths.
“Strong leadership and enthusiasm coupled with deep expertise and the ability to work with people on challenging issues are an extremely powerful combination,” says David Shearer, chief operating officer at (ISC)2. “Jennifer blends these characteristics seamlessly. Her leadership makes the organizations and teams she engages with better at what they do. She's tough on problems, while she's respectful to people.”
Originally, the role of security practitioners was to bring visibility of the issues and awareness to the culture, adds Minella. “Now, our role must evolve to a tight alignment with organizational goals, whether that organization be a government or a corporation. Security and business objectives can't exist independently moving forward, just as security can't continue to exist solely as a bolt-on addition to products.”