Grant's Desi Achiever
SHE'S DOING IT HER WAY
By SHAGORIKA EASWAR
Nandini Jolly, the president and ceo of CryptoMill Technologies, and her team provide advanced, innovative data security solutions for enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses as well as individual consumers.
Think of her as a secret weapon for consumers of technology products.
“We believe that security, like freedom, is everyone’s right,” says Jolly, who foresaw the development of security solutions to tackle both external and internal threats to confidential, sensitive and personal information. “We protect data that builds businesses, bringing simplicity into the most complex of environments. There has been a significant shift in approach to cybersecurity, largely driven by the huge proliferation of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and the Internet of Things. This makes the traditional concept of cybersecurity – create the strongest digital perimeter possible around your institution and put all your important things inside it – no longer practical. People are recognizing that data moves and the notion that you can put a big wall around it is falling by the wayside. If we want privacy, security has to travel with the data.”
CryptoMill’s advanced transparent encryption, powerful access controls and a lightweight centralized key management, lets organizations encrypt everything. Their recent solution offering, Circles of Trust cybersecurity suite, ensures that encrypted assets remain protected both at rest and regardless of where they travel, only allowing authorized people to access them. This eliminates the risks associated with data breaches from a hacker attack on firewall, network, cloud, or emails as well as data leaks through lost or stolen devices.
“Security, like freedom, is everyone’s right.”
– Nandini Jolly, President & CEO, CryptoMill Technologies
Their products are used by a number of organizations worldwide.
“We are still a small organization of under 30, but very nimble,” says Jolly. “We are continuously developing and evolving to stay ahead of hackers who change their approach every day.”
She talks of a legislation that came into effect in Europe in May this year, under which the penalty for data breaches will be as much as 20 million euros or four per cent of total annual revenue. It is taking longer for Canada to jump on board because we don’t have strict penalties, she says. Things are changing, but enforcement is limited, for now.
“We are engaging with Canadian companies, but it is still academic, we are still discussing. We are at a different level of evolution where approach to security is concerned. I call it the smoker’s dilemma. Everyone knows how bad it is for you, but you can still see smokers everywhere. They are convinced it won’t happen to them.”
Jolly and her team of engineers, who refer to themselves as the Cryptonites, spearheaded the design of an exclusive product for hp Worldwide that is built into hp desktops, laptops and tablets, and shipped worldwide on over 40 million devices in 34 languages.
But for the ceo of the company that counts hp, Motorola, Open Text as well as law firms in the us and Canada among its clients, success didn’t come easy.
With a background in international risk management, she moved to Canada to join her parents. “I had a bet with my dad that if I found a job within 30 days of graduating, he would have to buy me a car!”
She won that bet and with a Masters in International Finance and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the London School of Business and Finance, served as senior vice president of Global Treasury Services and Financial Risk Management for Bank of America. She was also a director at Deloitte and Touche.
“I might have said I am not a born entrepreneur – but then I think that innately, I am. It’s a mindset.”
Did she face challenges raising funds, finding clients? Did she meet people who did not take a woman – one with no engineering background to boot – seriously?
“Of course there were ups and downs. There still are. But I never paid attention to my gender. I never woke up thinking about the challenges of being a woman, I never allowed myself to go down that route. I believe the glass ceiling only exists if you look up. I am too busy looking forward, learning and improving. It was important for me to know my stuff. My engineers taught me and I learnt by osmosis.
“Some days it is harder than others, and then I dig in and dig deeper to find my source of strength. My constants are God, my parents, my husband and son, and my engineers. They keep me grounded. I reflect on my blessings when I am feeling down. It doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens to me, it does, but my response is mitigated.”
Jolly fosters a culture of collaborative learning and mentorship. Co-op students from engineering and computer science departments at a number of local academic institutions are active members of the CryptoMill team.
A frequent speaker on security and privacy, and a Privacy by Design ambassador, she coauthored a white paper with Dr Ann Cavoukian when she was Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and Sam Marafioti, cio, Sunnybrook Hospital, entitled Encryption by Default and Circles of Trust. She was named as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women for her ground-breaking work in a sector that is predominately male, for fearlessly navigating through new territory and for her ability to lead by example. She was featured by the government of Canada’s Status of Women Canada as one of Canada’s Businesswomen – a growing economic force – whose entrepreneurial spirit has influenced the business world and who serves as a mentor to other women. As a senior member of Women in Capital Markets, she has volunteered as a mentor to young women in high schools.
And yet, she doesn’t see herself as a mentor.
“That implies I know better. I believe in empowering women. I am on a journey of improving myself and I want to convey that no challenge, no setback is so big that you can’t get over it. I look at my son and his friends and I am excited by the opportunities we can help present to youth, both men and women. I want to build a sense of self-worth.”
She tells young people to be fearless. “What stops us is our fear of failure, our own what-ifs.
She looks at the Vedanta philosophy for guidance, a retreat in Hollywood being her go-to place for peace and contemplation. Her team invokes the protection of Durga before starting any new project – their own spiritual firewall, if you will.
“We are a diverse group with people from all backgrounds, and we keep away from dogmatism, but they see it as something that is deeply spiritual.”
Her family consists of husband Marc, “a happy Bay Street banker”; their son Arun, 17; and her parrot named Krishna by Arun.
“Krishna is not a bird, he is my second baby,” she says.
Jolly offers the following tips for keeping data secure.
“Be vigilant, always. Don’t click on links sent by someone you don’t know to avoid potentially giving access to a perpetrator. The cra or your bank or phone company will not send you links. A breach can spread like an epidemic. There’s a conglomerate of hackers whose full-time job it is to steal your data. Be aware. Ask questions. Educate yourself. It’s about shifting a mindset and that can be hard. My mom will open the door and feed anybody, how do I change that? When she thinks her password – 1234 – is safe, it’s endearing, it’s heartwarming, but it’s also scary. Have good hygiene – change your password frequently. Yes, it is annoying, but it keeps you safe.”
Jolly does kickboxing five days a week and zumba on Sundays. “I love Latin music and dance my head off!” She loves watching shows with her family and cooking for them, her parents and friends. “I’m a Gordon Ramsay on weekends!”
She finds being with her team as they make something out of nothing very rewarding. “I love the journey with my engineers. They give me back all the love I give them, multifold. I scold and praise my engineers in the same breath, they are my family, too. How many ceos know about girlfriend problems of members of their team? Or have engineers sending them photographs while on vacation? I walk down the street like I am the ceo of the biggest company in the world because of all the love I get.
“When we started out, my mom had given me a plaque. It says, excellence is not a destination, but a continuous journey. You know the song, I did it my way? My epitaph will say, She did it her way.”