Category: Top Management
Name: Jennifer Steffens
Why nominated: Since the start of her cybersecurity career, Jennifer Steffens’s goal has been to make the world safer and more secure.
Profile: Jennifer Steffens joined IOActive nine years ago as a project manager and showed an affinity for cybersecurity, gaining the trust of industry experts, colleagues, and clients along the path to CEO.
Her early B2B marketing career had her working with researchers who valued her understanding of technology and could communicate messages properly. She became the first female hired at Sourcefire and sharpened her management skills while helping grow the company’s run rate from $250,000 to $35 million in four years.
At IOActive, Steffens has pioneered the company’s Securing Smart Cities non-profit initiative, which is used as a resource by companies, governments and individuals. In an effort to negate problems before they start, Steffens wanted to make sure the cybersecurity voice was
being heard even in the planning phase of smart cities.
The company expanded into medical device security after Steffens’ father’s pacemaker was called three times.
She and her team have presented their self-funded research and security best practices at over 500 conferences worldwide. In an effort to make security a “trendy’ topic, they donate time to charities and university training programs.
Steffens has been a judge for Duo Women in Security for the past two years, and a Tech Trailblazers judge since its inception. She is an active member of EWF, ISSA, and OWASP.
What colleagues say: “The best way to describe someone like Jennifer Sunshine Steffens is through an unusual metaphor: Think about the order and precision of Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3,” stop for two seconds, and then think about the energy and joy in Joan Jett’s “Cherry Bomb.” When I had my first contact with IOActive, I was looking at Jason Larsen, one of Jennifer’s rising stars, blow up two 200-liter oil drums by hacking a SCADA system at the IoT village at DEFCON 23. I had been given the challenge to secure our SCADA systems and I was listening carefully to Jason, as his presentation was aimed directly at one piece of equipment we own. Almost a year after that, I engaged IOActive through their sales and consulting teams at DEFCON 24 and they helped me understand every detail that I needed to focus on in my own SCADA environment with a proposal that fit the needs of my organization without wasting a single dollar or hour of effort. After having several conversations with Jennifer for the last two years, it struck me: It took someone with a special skill set, an extremely analytical mind that brought together technology and business and a heart full of joie de vivre to manage a team full of geniuses. Jennifer is all that, and then some. Jennifer’s ability to identify the potential of a boutique Security consulting firm that caters to the needs of a specific and advanced technical field sets her apart from her peers. She can spot the talent needed to discover, understand and solve problems that plague the IoT/SCADA/ICS arena: One of the most complex fields in Information Security in the last 20 years. She links this talent to consulting teams that work closely with the client and that have extensive experience, fostering a business model that solves a client’s problem and delivers maximum value, but also one that amplifies the internal development of her employees through continuous mentoring and exposure to a wide array of challenges. This combination makes IOActive the powerhouse it has become today. But, at the end of the day, Jennifer’s best qualities are her maturity and her enthusiasm. As an executive and as a human being, she has tremendously grown every year she’s spent in the Security business. She constantly evaluates the goals she sets for herself and pursues them ferociously, but never forgets that fun and joy are also needed to maintain an attitude that conquers big challenges. Most importantly, her enthusiasm is contagious to the point where you can see that every IOActive employee displays the same energy, can-do attitude and talent that she has. You can’t find a better example of how a leader transcends the lives of those who work by her side. So, what do you need to conquer the most complex and challenging niche of Information Security? – Someone with Bach’s genius and Joan Jett’s attitude. That’s Jennifer Sunshine Steffens.”
– Carlos F. Lerma – Sr. Information Security Architect at Beam Suntory Inc.