Director Security and Data Privacy, Application Security Lead for SAP Labs India
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“Dream it. Believe it. and Do it.” These are the words that Sailaja Vadlamudi, Application Security lead for India & Director of Security and Data Privacy SAP Labs lives by.
Sailaja is a speaker, mentor, influencer, author, researcher and founder of Women in Cybersecurity and Privacy (WiCSP), a community body that promotes the development, advancement, and inclusion of women in security and privacy. She has 18+ years of experience, with certifications in information security (CISM), Certified Data privacy Solution Engineer (CDPSE), SAP certified threat modeling expert, and have extensive knowledge on General Data Protection Bill (GDPR), and China cybersecurity law. Few of her most recent and notable contributions was lending her expertise on the Indian Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB 2019), Non-Personal Data Governance framework (NPD) and Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture (DPEA).
A technical member of the National Cyber Defense Research Center (NCDRC), Sailaja mentors’ women and young girls, and encourages them to pursue cybersecurity careers. A mother to two young children, she invests her time to raise cyber hygiene awareness in kids and recognizes that education is key to minimizing risk of online harm at a vulnerable age. She was most recently recognized as a ‘Top 20 Indian Women Influencers in Security 2020,’ an award given to women leaders for their achievements in the field of security and their influence on the security community.
Sailaja’s career is all about building trust. She has invested her professional career to build a security culture across borders and is driven by her passion to be a change agent. No wonder she is handpicked for the role to be the first Application Security Lead for India to drive security culture at SAP Labs India Location. She works tirelessly in and outside SAP and is an active ambassador on multiple non-profits’ advisory boards. With her notable and viral impact she was able to influence many colleagues at SAP to pursue paths in Security domain and many follow her steps picking up a similar role and she coaches and mentors them as she has experienced from being mentored she says they are her Gurus Guides and her backbone at SAP. Leveraging SAP mentors has helped shape her and her career. She did a 4-week social sabbatical via coaching sessions and feels fortunate to have a manager that has pushed her to try new things, and it gave shape to her dream of giving back to society through WiCSP and be a thought leader in her domain and lead the way.
Her career in SAP reflects the endless opportunities offered by the company. She has held diverse roles across software development such as development expert, designer, solution manager, scrum master, integration expert, security project lead, data privacy expert, security expert and security product owner. She has led teams based in India, Germany, China, Hungary, Minsk and USA.
When asked about SAP, she shares how she “bleeds blue”, a term used by passionate employees to express about how proud they are about working here. Sailaja says this about the company: “It’s people first, it’s people second, and it’s people third. It’s all about how the company treats its employees and how its employees treat our customers.” She appreciates how SAP has given her the freedom and support to become everything she wants to achieve, and values how SAP has allowed her to be “fearless, to be herself, to love herself, to be a mentor, to have a mentor, and to build her own world to help make it better.”
In 2008, Sailaja and the team were assigned to work on high attention project on Application Security, they identified root cause and mitigated all of them from there, her role in cybersecurity grew and grew and grew. “I just managed it. And the company recognized and appreciated the critical support,” says Sailaja. “Ever since it has been a learning security journey. As a team we help and motivate each other. It is magical.”
She adds, “I used to travel a lot before COVID-19, and when I would meet new people on flights, they would ask me what I do. I would say I work at SAP; we help the world run better. Whatever industry, we have a huge share in that. Take for example how we power 77% of the world’s transactions. With that comes big responsibility to manage the security of our customers’ business. And I am proud to help manage that.”
Sharing her love for SAP doesn’t stop on flights, Sailaja is proud to live the brand in numerous ways. For instance, she assists in onboarding new talent to SAP share her knowledge and expertise on SAP and security topics.
When asked about the type of skills needed for cybersecurity, she says she looks for passion, curiosity and integrity in people. Cybersecurity is a growing field, and extensive experience is not required to become a subject matter expert. However, you must be willing to try new things, test and learn, and have the drive to deliver. “There is a tremendous amount of support within the security and privacy domain. Plus, I believe you can truly do anything at SAP,” said Sailaja.
Sailaja shares how “there is a significant momentum as security and privacy are key differentiators on cloud and digitization,” and she hopes that others will join her to help set the stage for SAP as a champion in this space. She dreams it, she lives it. And she does it.
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