Cybersecurity expert Alexa Raad teaches us how to stay safe online — and off

A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs & Cynthia de Lorenzi, authors, Your What’s Next JournalWe are thrilled to introduce you to Alexa Raad, a truly amazing woman with a deep understanding of cybersecurity, DNS, and the internet infrastructure industries. She is the author of a US and European patent in cybersecurity.

A professional powerhouse: A 25+ year tech industry veteran, P&L leader, and strategic advisor to CEOs, Alexa has led executive and private equity teams. Her successful track record — of growing revenue, scaling organizations internationally, and developing new markets in the US, Europe, Latin America, and Asia — includes roles as CEO, COO, CMO, board member, chairman of the board, advisory board member, and private equity consultant.

Her experience also includes leading start-up, small, and mid-size to large public companies, as well as not-for-profit organizations. She focuses on functional areas such as strategy, international development, sales and sales operations, tech policy and governance, product development, IT management, M&A due diligence, and operation.

Alexa’s mission: A consistent theme in Alexa’s career has been to provide entrepreneurial service to a higher mission. With that goal in mind, she has pioneered transformational technologies such as DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions), Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), and policies and best practices on privacy cybersecurity to protect the internet as a utility for economic development. Alexa has conceived, built, and led successful industry-wide coalitions and organizations to address larger issues such as DNS abuse and cybersecurity.

She is also a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and has served, by appointment, as a Webby’s judge since 2008. She is also an avid conservationist; most recently, she volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, caring for abused elephants rescued from a life of logging and tourist trekking camps.

Alexa speaks multiple languages (Farsi, German, French, and Italian) and is an amateur archeologist (Roman Archeology). She is also passionate about women in STEM and serves on the advisory board of Uniting Women in Cyber, a local advocacy group.

A powerful back story: Alexa is a first-generation American citizen. She and her immediate family fled at the height of the Iranian revolution. She left Iran in a military cargo flight, the last to do so, in February of 1979. Her maternal grandparents fled Nazi Germany for Iran, only to leave again and eventually find a haven in the United States.

As a result, Alexa is fiercely protective of the ideals, principles, and institutions which underpin a democratic republic. Her passion for free, fair, and secure elections is rooted in personal and familial living experiences in societies where such institutions were nonexistent or destroyed.

Hope & Cynthia: Tell us about your business/industry before the pandemic hit in March 2020. 

Alexa Raad: I am in cybersecurity, and before the pandemic, I had gone solo with my consulting practice helping PE companies evaluate cybersecurity companies for M&A and investment.

Hope & Cynthia: Where were you personally in your life when COVID-19 arrived in the US? What were your short and long-term goals at that time? 

Alexa Raad: I was in a good place, having made some major changes in my life. I had taken on full-time responsibility for caring for my autistic sister. In light of COVID and the fact that the impacts are long-lasting in every part of our lives, I am in the process of reevaluating my own long-term goals.

Hope & Cynthia: What are your thoughts now about your industry, your business, your personal life, your heart?

Alexa Raad: I started a podcast called TechSequences with a longtime friend and colleague. It was not meant to be a career choice or even to bring in money. It is about us enjoying what we do and sharing it with like-minded people. I am still evaluating where I want to be and should be in the long-term.

Hope & Cynthia: Now the big question — What do you see coming next? 

  • For your industry: Lots of changes. The work at home model is here to stay, and that really changes corporate cybersecurity stance and challenges.
  • For your company: Hopefully, more consulting work or a chance to join one of the companies I have consulted on to help them scale.
  • For yourself: At this point, the things that matter to me are things you cannot measure in practical terms,  Ii.e. peace of mind, intellectual curiosity, a sense of fulfillment and peace, leaving a legacy.
  • For the country: We need to the right this ship, and time is short.
  • For the world: Same as above, We are all connected.  No one is an island by itself, so cries of “Me first” are tone-deaf to the reality of the planet we occupy.
  • For women: We need to stand up for ourselves and others when we see injustice.  Me too has been pivotal, but it cannot, and should not, end simply with awareness; we need comprehensive action.

Stay tuned for our upcoming video and podcast interview with truly amazing Alexa Raad!