By Ruth Keyso, Director of Alumni Relations & Giving
You could call Natasha Pabrai '10 a modern-day superhero. After all, she makes a living protecting online user-data from “evildoers.”
As engineering program manager at Google, Natasha works with system architects, lawyers, sales people, and software engineers to maintain a secure infrastructure for enterprises that use applications in Google’s G suite—Google mail, drive, calendar, etc.
“I make sure that the applications meet regulatory standards and that technical controls are in place to keep data secure,” she explains.
When considering careers, a job in cyber-security never entered Natasha’s mind. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be a doctor. She majored in biology at Scripps College with the intention of enrolling in medical school. After shadowing a few doctors, she changed her mind.
“I kept hearing the word HIPAA,” she says, referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Realizing what a huge role privacy and protection of data was playing in the medical world, Natasha switched gears and set out to learn as much as possible about HIPAA compliance and data security, eventually earning multiple certifications in the field.
After a series of jobs, from a tiny start-up to a corporate giant, where she implemented security programs and conducted security posture assessments, Natasha landed at Google in April 2016. She loves her work at this storied company, a workplace unlike any other she has encountered. “Google is in a league of its own,” she says. Beyond the free cafeteria fare, the custom-made lattes, the food trucks, and the flexible hours, Natasha appreciates the autonomy of the organization and the trust her superiors place in her to get the job done.
“They let your work speak for itself,” she explains.
A self-starter and an on-the-job learner who is constantly on the hunt for new skills and knowledge, Natasha admits to experiencing her share of setbacks along the way.
“I was not a 4.0 student; I did well, but I wasn’t at the top of my class,” she admits. But dogged persistence has served her well. When she failed a certification exam or got laid off from a job, she dusted herself off and tried again.
“Failure is part of the journey,” she says. “You can’t get stuck in the moment. When you fall, you get up. Those are the moments when you learn the most.”
Natasha’s future goals include continuing to grow her technical expertise. “Recently, my roles have been on the regulatory advisory side; I’d like to be more involved with the technical implementation of these security controls.” Working with sharp, tech-savvy individuals at Google is advancing her knowledge and helping her understand more about the back-end of the business: the how of data storage and application functionality, in addition to the why.
“It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” says Natasha about the wide world of data. “Either you’re getting the data—like a hacker—or you’re protecting the data,” as she and her colleagues are doing, thwarting those evildoers one at a time.
Natasha Pabrai ’10 is a 2013 graduate of Scripps College with a degree in biology. She lives in San Francisco and works at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
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