The IT Security Guru’s Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards aims to shed a light on the remarkable women in our industry. The following is a feature on just one of the many phenomenal women put forward for the 2021 awards. Presented in a Q&A format, the nominee’s answers are written in their own words with minor edits made by the editor for readability.
This year, the awards are sponsored by KPMG and Beazley.
Anjali Das, Partner, Co-Chair Cybersecurity and Data Privacy at Wilson Elser
What does your job role entail?
I lead a national team of attorneys around the country to respond to some of the most complex cybersecurity incidents, ranging from cross-border data breaches to high-stakes ransomware attacks. I also oversee cyber crisis management for clients that have been the victim of a cybersecurity or data privacy incident.
I manage a team of attorneys across the Firm’s 39 offices who provide dedicated 24/7 incident response services for companies across the United States. My team and I routinely advise clients on compliance with state, federal and international privacy laws, including notification to affected individuals and regulatory authorities.
I have zealously represented clients in Data Breach Class Action litigation filed in state and federal courts around the country, including cases involving issues of first impression. I have successfully mediated and obtained favorable settlements for my clients in these cases. I also routinely represent clients in state and federal regulatory investigations and enforcement actions arising out of a data breach.
In 2021, I launched the Firm’s Virtual Privacy Officer Services to provide clients with cyber risk management services, including the development of cybersecurity and information security programs, management of third party supply chain risk, privacy and security policies and procedures, and compliance with consumer data privacy rights.
How did you get into the cybersecurity industry?
I have always been interested in the intersection of business, technology, and law. Early in my career, I handled complex claims against corporate boards of Silicon Valley technology companies. While practicing law full time, I decided to get my MBA from Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
At Northwestern, I concentrated on technology and entrepreneurship coursework during the height of the dot com bubble. Throughout my legal career and business education, I was aware of the substantial role that technology would continue to play in business and society at large (despite the temporary bursting of the bubble). When my Firm decided to launch a dedicated Cybersecurity & Data Privacy practice years ago, I jumped at the chance to pivot my career to focus on the future of cybersecurity and data privacy and have never looked back.
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech/cyber industry and how did you overcome it?
Fortunately, due to my upbringing, I have never viewed my gender as a barrier to my professional accomplishments. As the daughter of parents who immigrated from India to the United States during the racial and political turmoil of the 1960s, I was raised by parents who firmly believed that education and hard work would create a path for success, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or any other physical attributes. My mother was (and still is) a renaissance woman of her day. She agreed to travel to the United States for a traditional arranged marriage, but only on the condition that she could get her Master’s Degree in teaching. She went on to marry and raise two children in a foreign land far from her family in India, all while working full-time as a Special Education teacher during a time when most women did not hold full-time jobs. Her fearless, can-do attitude has been the underpinning of my life.
What are your top three greatest accomplishments you have achieved during your career so far?
- Growing the Firm’s Cybersecurity and Data Privacy practice to a national team of attorneys from Coast to Coast.
- Expanding the Cybersecurity and Data Privacy practice beyond Incident Response to encompass other areas of law including the defense of nationwide Data Breach Class Action litigation, representing clients in high-profile regulatory investigations and enforcement actions arising out of data breaches, and launching our new Virtual Privacy Officer Services.
- Being recognised as a prolific writer and speaker on all things cyber.
What are you doing to support other women, and/or to increase diversity, in the tech/cyber industry?
Given my background as an Indian female, including a daughter of a Sociologist, I am a strong proponent of Diversity & Inclusion in the cybersecurity and technology industry. Others have frequently commented that I have one of the most diverse teams of attorneys including a number of women and minorities. I have (and continue to) mentor countless women in their careers as they scale the professional ladder in the cyber and tech industry.
I am pleased to see that many of the women I trained as law clerks and young attorneys have gone on to have successful careers as cyber attorneys and professionals in the industry.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls/women looking to enter the cybersecurity industry?
Cybersecurity and technology will continue to be a leading field that will provide a host of opportunities for women across the spectrum. Take advantage of any opportunity to take coursework in technology, cybersecurity, and/or data privacy. Get certified as a privacy professional. Be fearless, take a leap of faith, and explore new and exciting opportunities in the cyber and tech industry. Have fun and never give up!