Cyber Security Advocates: Meet Jameeka Green Aaron

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As the ongoing dialogue on threats, standards, and best practices continues to drive awareness of cyber security issues, we noticed something slipping under the radar: the contributions of security professionals working behind the scenes to stay ahead of the curve. To us, cyber security means people, and we’re celebrating the Cyber Security Advocates who strengthen our industry by helping to bridge the technology and talent gap.

Okta and Auth0 know that beyond the policies and practices that keep systems secure, cyber security is really about people. Jameeka Green Aaron, Chief Information Security Officer at Auth0, has more than 20 years of cyber security experience, having previously worked at Nike, Hurley, and Lockheed Martin, and served in the US Navy. 

Amanda Rogerson, Director, Solutions Product Marketing, sat down with Jameeka to discuss her vision for the future of cyber security.

Amanda: What was the path that led you to security? 

Jameeka: I got into the industry very early, when the internet was just starting and the dot-com boom was happening. I started my career in the Navy—my first job on USS Rushmore was in the Navy and Marine Corps Internet Command, which was responsible for integrating naval networks. I ended up working in the Security Operations Center, patching our printers for Y2K. The next thing I knew, I had become an Information Assurance Specialist, and 20-odd years later, I’m still in the game.

Amanda: As CISO for Auth0, how do you see your role encouraging Security and Privacy by Design?

Jameeka: The CISO of today should understand how the business runs and co-conspire with the executive team to bring about its success. The CISO is there to help reduce risk in the company. Our job is to monitor your systems to protect them; if something happens, our job is to trace it back. But no developer wants the CISO to show up and say, “You have 800 vulnerabilities, and you need to fix them before you can go live.” 

So with Security and Privacy by Design, our product security team sits within our product team and sees everything that comes out of the pipeline. This approach ensures we code securely throughout the entire software development cycle, without security inhibiting the product.

Amanda: You’ve built an impressive network within the cyber security community. How did you start bringing people together like this?

Jameeka: I looked for like-minded organizations to ally with and joined their networks. I joined organizations like the National Urban League, National Society of Black Engineers, and Women in Science and Engineering and met a phenomenal group of friends, including my husband.

I also joined the Executive Women’s Forum early on and found a spectacular group of women CISOs. The women’s network I built around me is doing impressive work in utilities, aerospace, and defense worldwide, so there’s a bit of competition, but a lot of inspiration. 

And now the great thing about Auth0 is that there’s a safe space for collaboration, which means I have the same kind of network here—one that inspires me and that I can turn to.

There are organizations everywhere for every kind of person, so find your tribe and join them. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel once you figure out your passion.

Amanda: What advice would you give to people looking to be part of the cyber security community or work in your field? 

Jameeka: They just need to dive in! It’s a matter of saying, “I want to do this work,” and figuring out where you want to start. This industry is very self-taught, so it has many pathways in, whether you’re interested in technical or non-technical roles. For example, you can work in marketing at a security company, and I’d consider you a security professional. 

People don’t get stagnant in cyber security roles—they move around, which creates tons of opportunities to get into this world very quickly. I liked working in the military, and I like sneakers, and I like the community at Auth0. Follow your passion and the need for security will be there.

And for fellow veterans, the military tells you that you’ll get out and get a job, which is true, but can you get a job that allows you to thrive? Don’t come to cyber security because it pays well; come because it’s something you are passionate about. And don’t be afraid to leap into the civilian world. It’s scary, but it's spectacular.

Amanda: How can people and organizations contribute to bridging the talent gap in cyber security?

Jameeka: What I love about Auth0 and Okta is the powerhouse partnerships we have with organizations that are addressing the talent gap. I support many organizations that impact change, like Girls in Tech and the National Society of Black Engineers. The lack of women in STEM is a pipeline problem, so we have to fix the pipeline. We also have to focus on retaining women and talented people of color. And we can’t do that in a performative way. We have to commit to doing the work.

We need to take our time and create long-standing permanent change that allows us to fuel innovation in the right direction. Don’t try to tackle everything at once. It’s not a numbers game; it’s about people and culture. Hire professionals that understand this space to make plans for change and implement them thoughtfully. Build supportive teams. Hire leadership that buys into this change and drives it home—because you can't get anything done with absent leadership.

At your workplace, look at the employee resources groups, and if you see something missing, recommend it. Look at what your coworkers and colleagues are doing. There are many opportunities to be an ally. For example, join a cat group and donate. I love my cats! Tap into areas that are part of your passion.

Remember that one person can change the world, so if you change the culture for one person, you’ve done something important.

Amanda: How do you encourage others to bring their whole self to work?

Jameeka: I always say, if you don’t do it, nobody is going to! Each of us is unique, and if you don’t show up as your true self, your colleagues don’t get to know these important parts of you. There’s a piece missing from your identity. 

It can be scary and uncomfortable to show up. As a Black woman in the military, I have had to shift the focus from what people think of me to what they think of my work and learned to say things that are difficult to say. Sometimes the conversations are hard, but people are listening and you have to be honest. 

Colleagues share a baseline level of respect, but there’s another level that goes even deeper—appreciation for who we are as people and for our culture. In this line of work, if we don’t know about people, we can’t do our job well. 

Amanda: It sounds like identity is at the heart of what you do.

Jameeka: I believe deeply that what we do isn’t just about technology—it’s about people. We’re protecting human beings and ensuring they have a digital identity that’s their own. There’s nothing more important than the people we support and help to protect.

I’m looking forward to the future of security. More specifically, I can’t wait to see what good our focus on identity will bring. 

Visit the Okta and Auth0 careers pages to find out how to start your own career in cyber security, and learn more about the field through our Cyber Security Awareness Month blog series.