Laura Hunter: Building a better future for the world of identity
In our most recent installment of the Women in Tech series, we chatted with Archana Ramamoorthy, director of product management at Workday. Our latest guest is Laura Hunter, principal program manager in Microsoft’s Azure Management division.
Armed with a bachelor’s and two masters’ degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington, Laura is a learned and highly experienced technologist and thought leader.
In her previous roles, she worked in identity management, active directory architecture, and IT support, among other areas. Fun fact: While tech takes up a large percentage of Laura’s time, swing dancing happens to be her other passion.
Intent on learning more about Laura, we asked her a series of questions touching on a whole range of issues, such as the importance of having a diverse workforce, her perspective on the future of identity, and the impact she hopes to make with her life and work.
Trulioo: Why is building a diverse and balanced workforce in an organization’s best interest?
Laura: A diverse workforce makes better decisions – plain and simple. A diverse background means that you will have a diversity of viewpoints when evaluating a problem, and making a decision. If everyone looks and thinks the same, you will always get what you’ve always gotten and no more.
“A diverse workforce makes better decisions – plain and simple…”
Trulioo: What is the biggest challenge currently facing women in the identity industry?
Laura: I’m not sure that women in the identity industry necessarily face unique issues relative to the rest of the tech industry. If anything, I enjoy that I have a strong set of Identerati allies who surround me and make me better every day. As far as “women in tech” all-up? I mean, microaggressions are a real thing, and they’re tough to deal with.
Trulioo: What excites you most about the field of identity?
Laura: My background is a bit bifurcated – one part “identity & security”, one part “usability” (I have a master’s in human-centered design). The things that excite me within the identity vertical revolve around how we can create solutions that increase user security while not impacting (or perhaps even improving) the usability of any given system, service, and authentication experience.
Trulioo: How did you find yourself in the identity industry?
Laura: I began as a human-of-all-trades IT support and server operations person. Over time, I gravitated towards managing Microsoft Active Directory networks, which then became a natural gateway into federation, provisioning, and identity management. I’ve since branched out into cybersecurity and management of cloud resources at scale, but, at the end of the day, everything in the cloud comes back to identity.
Trulioo: What aspect of identity do you think is most important?
Laura: Everyone has seen the old infographic of the big dial with “security” on one side and “usability” on the other – dial one up, you must dial the other down. I am a big proponent of finding ways to defeat this binary – we need to be able to accommodate both needs at the same time, or else, we will ultimately fail in serving either.
Trulioo: What is the future of identity?
Laura: Two things – one, portable identities that stay with a human through their personal and/or professional lives, with privacy controls that allow individuals to control their own data, and authorization controls that allow these portable identities to interact with the “stuff” the human needs access to. Two, security and privacy controls to allow humans to interact with the non-human entities (IoT devices, etc.) that are proliferating throughout the world.
Trulioo: What’s your personal mission?
Laura: My personal mission is to leave the world a better place than I found it in – I spend a lot of time supporting local philanthropies in the Seattle area, especially around dance and the arts. Nobody ever went to their grave wishing they’d spent more time at work.
“My personal mission is to leave the world a better place than I found it in…”
Trulioo: What are your current goals and initiatives?
Laura: I want to complete my Ethical Hacker certification, help womeninidentity.org grow in scope and influence, and, finally, get more people to vote.
Trulioo: If you gave a Ted Talk about identity, what would the title be?
Laura: Stop Blaming the User for Internet Security Problems, Thank You for Coming to My TED Talk
To learn more about Laura and keep up to date with what’s she doing, follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.
If there’s a female trailblazer that you’d like to see featured in our Women in Tech blog series, please send your suggestions to [email protected]
Check out our previous posts here and stay tuned for the next installment!