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Helen Oakley

Product Security Architect, Financial Services Industry

Helen Oakley

At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.


In a global company, you have tremendous ways to grow and it’s up to you whether or not to pursue the opportunities. A vibrant field of cybersecurity is one of the most exciting careers you can have.

Helen Oakley

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.” - said Orison Swett Marden. I like this quote because our lives, in most cases, are sets of smaller and regular occasions and it takes one to recognize and make it great.

I’ve joined SAP through acquisition, about six years ago. At that time, I was a release manager, responsible for product release cycles and program management. I’ve learnt a lot during the acquisition, and most of all, the importance of processes and how it all ties together.

While learning about software release topics at SAP, I’ve learnt also about security and it really caught my interest. This is when I started to get more involved into the topic. It also opened another perspective for me: security has so many domains and even though a development background definitely helps, it’s not necessary in order to pursue your interest. My semi-technical background (automation scripting, DevOps, Quality Assurance) provided me enough ground to succeed.

I’ve continued my career in cybersecurity on application development side, meaning I am working with development teams to make sure SAP applications are implemented with security by design and privacy by design. There is also an SAP Global Security team who are doing security research, rolling out security best practices and procedures, supporting experts on development teams and providing security trainings.

The leap into my current security role was done by seeing and seizing an opportunity. At some point I was holding a couple of hats and it was overwhelming to manage security role for a large applications portfolio together with my release management role then. I saw the need in more in-depth security involvement, I wanted to do the job right and avoid gaps due to lack of my capacity on the topic. This is when I proposed to my management to address the topic by assigning me to the security role at full capacity. This was my dream and I was empowered to follow it. With great support from the management, I’ve taken on my current security role and applied my passion for security into success of our organization.

Among many experiences throughout my journey, one was the most outstanding and consistent: a continuous support from my management and peers. In each area, each topic, you can always find someone who would like to help you and share their knowledge. Experts across the globe provide their insights and diverse perspectives. All you need is to be curious, ask your questions, not to be afraid to take on a challenge and pursue your dream!

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