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From Lovelace to Lamarr: Marina Marceta on Navigating Mountains and Cyber Landscapes

Tue 14 May 2024

As the anticipation builds for the upcoming Cloud & Cyber Security Expo, part of the Tech Show Frankfurt event scheduled for May 22-23 at Messe Frankfurt, we had the privilege of catching up with Marina Marceta, the Tribe Lead for Cyber Defense & Operations at HEINEKEN.

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Known for her innovative approach to cybersecurity and her passion for technological advancements, Marina shared three inventions that have had an impact on her life: the first documented algorithm by Ada Lovelace, the radio wave frequency hopping system invented by Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil, and the dishwasher invented by Josephine Cochrane.

These inventions provided insights into her journey, inspirations, and what she believes could be in store for the future of cybersecurity.

Harnessing the Power of Innovation

Marceta’s journey into technology began with a childhood fascination with computers and programming. She vividly recalls her early days of learning to programme, citing Ada Lovelace’s groundbreaking algorithm as a pivotal moment in the history of computing.

“When I was a child I wanted to become a hacker; the picture I painted in my head of their lifestyle and perceived romanticised ‘fight against the big brother’, making wonderous things happen just with their keyboard in front of them made me want to learn everything I could about computers,” recalled Marceta.

Lovelace’s contributions laid the foundation for Marceta’s exploration into the world of programming, igniting her passion for technology and innovation.

“The ability to programme a prank, or make an algorithm execute something I wanted them to, presented unending fascination and entertainment, as well as healthy competition with some cyber friends,” noted Marceta.

Yet, her journey evolved beyond mere fascination into a profound desire to contribute meaningfully to humanity through technology.

“This was a pivotal segway into cybersecurity and my own realisation of how I actually want to help protect people, their data, and systems,” reflected Marceta.

The Legacy of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace’s invention, the first documented algorithm, opened doors for countless individuals, including Marceta, to delve into the realm of programming and computer science. Marceta recognised  Lovelace as a trailblazer who defied gender stereotypes and paved the way for women in STEM fields.

Reflecting on the pioneers of computer science, Marceta highlighted the importance of female role models like Ada Lovelace in inspiring future generations of women in STEM fields. Marceta said while studying and growing up she did not know about Ada Lovelace, Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Jonson or Ann Tsukamoto.

“STEM is very much still represented as a man’s world, and most of my professors and colleagues are male,” said Marceta, noting that things are slowly changing for the better.

For example, while she was studying Computer sciences and engineering there were only 20% female students, now it is 40%.

“I think now we are celebrating the female pioneers much more openly and widely, which can only help,” said Marceta.

Lovelace’s legacy continues to inspire Marceta as she leads her Cyber Tribe at HEINEKEN, promoting gender diversity and fostering a culture of innovation and inclusion.

“Ada and the other mentioned power ladies helped pave the way for the rest of us; with their brilliant inventions and contributions to humanity as a whole, but as also role models on perseverance and ingenuity,” noted Marceta.

From the Mountains to Wi-Fi

One of Marceta’s most cherished inventions is the radio wave frequency hopping system, pioneered by Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil. This groundbreaking technology, originally designed to guide torpedoes during World War II, laid the groundwork for modern-day Wi-Fi and GPS systems.

For Marceta, Lamarr’s invention enabled her to pursue her passion for living and working in the mountains and underscored the transformative power of innovation in solving complex challenges.

“There are countless parallels between navigating the mountains and the operational cybersecurity field; the same survival lessons apply to both,” said Marceta.

Marceta highlighted two important lessons that can be translated to both the natural landscape and the cybersecurity domain.

“Lesson number one: it is OK to turn back and not conquer that peak if it is not safe; return another day and live to tell the story. You do not have to apply the newest shiniest trend in technology straight away, the timing needs to be right,” said Marceta.

Marceta’s second lesson is to ‘be prepared’.

“The right equipment, knowing the emergency procedures and techniques can save your life, and knowing what to do and who to call in times of a cyber incident, are crucial for a resilient company or environment,” added Marceta.

Embracing Everyday Efficiency With the Dishwasher

Josephine Cochrane’s invention of the dishwasher holds a special place in Marceta’s heart, representing the intersection of innovation and everyday convenience.

As someone who values efficiency and sustainability, Marceta sees the dishwasher as more than just a household appliance. It is a testament to human ingenuity and our ability to improve the quality of life through technology.

As Marceta reflects on the impact of this invention, she is reminded of the importance of pushing boundaries, challenging stereotypes, and embracing innovation in all its forms. Marceta envisions a future where technology continues to empower individuals and solve pressing global challenges, from cybersecurity threats to environmental sustainability.

“If we do not solve those topics; no others will really be relevant on Earth. I see human impact on our planet in front of my eyes on a daily basis; living two years in the French Alps and the Glaciers, I see from my window that they are literally shrinking and disappearing visibly,” said Marceta.

Anticipated Session at Cloud & Cyber Security Expo

At the upcoming Cloud & Cyber Security Expo, Marceta plans to share her insights into how her team tackled and is tackling the ‘minefield maze’ of Generative AI, advanced analytics, and other similar augmentations in the Cyber Security field; the ‘glory and gory stories’ both.

“This is with the hopes that it will inspire others and resonate with the audience, and perhaps bring the main motto of my team to the forefront; fail fast, learn relentlessly, and re-apply to succeed,” said Marceta.

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