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Women in identity management: 4 newcomers to watch

Jan 11, 20198 mins
AuthenticationIdentity Management SolutionsSecurity

Identity management veterans Diana Volere, Diane Joyce, Eve Maler and Susan Morrow introduce you to new entrants in the field.

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Credit: Thinkstock

Digital Identity – just the phrase leaves you thinking this must be important; after all, our identity is about who we are and what we do. Digital identity is a big technology space too. It encompasses a variety of sectors including verification-as-a-service, consumer identity and access management (CIAM), cloud (SaaS) identity, transaction authentication, and the newest entrant – self-sovereign identity. The financial value of the identity space is massive. Identity verification-as-a-service alone has been predicted by McKinsey to be worth $20 billion by 2022.

The workforce required to design, build and deliver the various identity services must be talented, forward-thinking and aware of human behavior. To achieve this, business technology teams need a diverse set of individuals across multiple disciplines.

Digital identity is being increasingly recognized as a key part of information security, as it builds a good foundation for web authentication, access control, identity verification, battling social engineering and more. And, like security, the identity industry needs good, diverse recruits.

One organization, Women in Identity, is working to promote and support women in the space. They also look to open up opportunities for women wanting to enter the world of digital identity in all of its forms.

Here, 4 veteran women in identity management ask some newcomers to the field about their current roles, how they got into the field, and what they foresee for the future of identity.

Diana Volere introduces Mary Writz

Diana Volere is a Principal Solution Architect for Saviynt, functioning as an evangelist in Identity Governance Administration. She’s been in identity, focused on delivery and technology sales since 2000. Diana has worked with technology leaders such as Novell, Oracle and ForgeRock, and has a passion for how we translate physical identities and culture to the digital landscape.

DIANA VOLERE: What is your role and your company’s role in the identity industry? MARY WRITZ: I am VP of product management for ForgeRock, an identity and access management platform.  ForgeRock is a visionary in the identity space, helping shape future standards and contributing thought leadership in many areas.  ForgeRock was one of the first to focus on privacy and consent, and to treat multiple identities (applications, devices, things) equally. 

DV: How do you balance that tension between aggregating consumer data and protecting consumer privacy? MW: You wouldn’t divulge all your health and financial information to someone you just met. Digital relationships are the same.  People build trust over time and want to have control over what they share, when they share, and how they share information.  When a service provider shows they are a good steward of customer data, customers feel comfortable giving more access over time.  You build trust through transparency, consent and treating your relationship as long-term.

DV: What do you see being the big advancements in identity over the next 5 years? MW: Wherever you see interesting digital innovations you see identity advancements; the sharing economy, internet of things, and service mesh architectures to name a few.

DV: What made you choose to move into the identity industry at this time? MW: My background is cyber security – the bulk of my time working in breach detection/prevention.  Historically breach detection looked at anomalous network, OS, or application activity but increasingly it examines anomalous user behavior.  Innovation is happening around understanding and linking identities for breach detection.  This is what made me excited about moving into the identity industry. 

Diane Joyce introduces Rosalie Dowding

Diane Joyce has been pivotal in the creation of the UK Digital Citizen Identity marketplace; sitting on the government/private sector partnership Identity Steering Group (IDSG), she has provided thought leadership, architecture design and innovation in the propagation of trusted online transactions in the digital age. 

DIANE JOYCE: What do you do in the Industry? ROSALIE DOWDING: I am now the Product Manager for the GOV.UK Verify product. Effectively, this means I represent the voice of the customer and I am ultimately responsible for making sure that the product is successful in the eyes of its users – and our Post Office leaders! I’m really proud of the fact that we have seen usage grow over 160 percent YoY – despite the challenges we all know about.

DJ: Which areas do you think are the greatest challenges in digital identity? RD: Although people are conscious of the risks associated with data – identity theft, data breaches etc. – I believe there’s a general lack of awareness of how these happen, and if it is even a real problem. The identity industry has spent too long talking amongst itself about things like standards and compliance, interoperability and technology. We need to get out there and talk directly to the users of our products and services to help them understand how digital identity can actually make life safer and simpler.

DJ: Where do you think identity will be in 5 years? RD: GDPR is already creating a cultural shift in the way we think about data control. The public is increasingly mindful of the fact that our personal data belongs to us – the individual customer – not the organization that supplies us with even the most essential products or services.

My prognosis for 2023 includes: The user will own (and understand) their own identity and decide how/when it is used. Shopping, travel, accessing government and financial services will require little effort. Smartphones won’t exist; we will use wearables and biometrics to consent to, and interact with, services

Eve Maler introduces Shilpa Maher

Eve Maler is VP of Innovation & Emerging Technology in ForgeRock’s Office of the CTO. She drives privacy and consent innovation for the ForgeRock Identity Platform, enabling user-controlled and compliant data sharing across web, mobile, and IoT contexts.

EVE MALER: What do you do in the identity industry? SHILPA MAHER: I’m the Head of Delivery for Digital Identity at HSBC and have been in this role since the beginning of 2018.

EM: How does your professional background connect with identity? SM: I have a master’s in economics and an MBA from Henley Business School. I like breaking a problem into its component parts and figuring out how to solve it, which is the state of identity industry at the moment: it’s a massive problem to solve.

EM: What are the components of that identity problem? SM: As people’s digital footprint grows, identity fraud increases. Consumers are more aware of their data privacy, and there’s greater regulatory pressure. Proving who you are over and over again is painful and doesn’t feel right in today’s digital economy. The fundamental thing is, how do you build trust? We collect lots of customer data all the time, but we don’t remember how we collated it. So, it’s all about establishing trust in the event of collecting the data. The components I see are: awareness of regulatory boundaries, trusting the data itself, enabling customers to trust and accommodating multiple models being deployed across the globe.

EM: What strategies have you used for learning new concepts and technologies? SM: I have learned a lot from interactions with my newly established identity network, together with vendors in the identity space. The Women in Identity group is key for me.

EM: Where do you think identity will be in five years? SM: If we can crack getting this attribute linking model off the ground, I think we will have made great strides! If we can start recording the events that led to that linkage in attributes and the relevant status of assurance and start sharing these ‘event records’ with other partners, it would be a huge step forward for everyone, especially the consumer.

Susan Morrow introduces Tina Keshiro

Susan Morrow worked in cybersecurity for over a decade before plunging head first into identity management for consumers and citizens. She works for Avoco Secure on cutting edge API tools that use data to do jobs for consumers. Her focus is on building relationships using data.

SUSAN MORROW: What do you do in the identity industry? TINA KESHIRO: I am a Principal Product owner for an Identity Verification service provider.  I work for a well-known logistics and parcels organization

SM: Which areas do you think are the greatest challenges in digital identity? TK: I think the biggest challenge in digital identity is getting ordinary people comfortable with the idea of trusting digital identity services and solutions.  In particular, the older generation who may find it harder to adjust to more and more services moving online and in order to access these services, they may be required to perform some sort of online ID verification.

SM: Where do you think identity will be in 5 years? TK: I think identity will be the key for all future everyday activities.  From day to day life activities like shopping, banking, doctor or hospital appointments, to leisure activities like going to the gym, visiting the theatre or going out to dinner!  Most of these activities are already accessible via our smart devices and it will only get sleeker and quicker in time, coupled with the speed in new technology.

SM: Why do you think the identity space is a good place for women to work in? TK: As mentioned previously to redress the balance between male and female in this industry.  But more importantly, there are many talented and highly skilled women in other industries such as engineering, medical and legal and I believe these skills are transferrable to add a creative and theoretical input into the thinking, designing and development of identity solutions.


Formerly a scientist working in the field of chemistry, Susan Morrow moved into the tech sector, co-founding an information security company in the early 1990s. She have worked in the field of cybersecurity and digital identity since then and helped to create award winning security solutions used by enterprises across the world.

Susan currently works on large scale, citizen and consumer identity systems. Her focus is on balancing usability with security. She has helped to build identity solutions that are cutting edge and expanding the boundaries of how identity ecosystems are designed. She has worked on a number of government based projects in the EU and UK. She is also interested in the human side of cybersecurity and how our own behavior influences the cybercriminal.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Susan Morrow and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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