I was born last century. That doesn’t necessarily make me old but I definitely remember a time when there was no internet and then a time when internet rhymed with a modem’s screeching howl and expensive phone bills. Connecting typically meant you couldn’t make a phone call unless you had a separate phone line.

My father had hung up a map of the world glued on a piece of wood that acted as a headboard for my twin-sized bed. I’d go to sleep at night staring at South America and Africa (I wasn’t tall enough to reach the Northern Hemisphere unless I sat up in bed). The map was from the 80ies which meant Germany was not unified yet and the USSR was still a thing. So was Yugoslavia. I got my love for geography, travel, planes, and exploration from these maps. And, when I was 8, my entire family moved across the ocean to the American Midwest. That was the beginning of an epic adventure that is still being written.

The first computer I used was a laptop my father used at work. It ran MS-DOS; my siblings and I played Pacman, GP, and other classic games. It didn’t dawn upon me that I could program until my father gave me a rather limited Sharp calculator (or pocket computer) with a one-line screen and a keyboard that resembled those found in cockpits. I was 13 and thought I could build a phonebook on that device using BASIC. It was primitive: all I knew was if/then/else and GOTO commands. But it worked. Later, in high school, we learned Turbo Pascal and then Delphi while at home my father fed me Java (version 1.1 if you please). The glorious days of applets. I also wrote my first websites (HTML, CSS, Javascript, and later DHTML in splendid technicolor with the mandatory <marquee/> and other hideous inventions of 90ies web design).

Soon, I was off to university. I majored in engineering with a specialization in Computer Science / Information Systems. While at university, I wrote for the university newspaper, joined the film club, and developed websites for fun (I wrote my own PHP CMS before I knew WordPress existed). That led me to a six-month internship, a Portuguese blog startup, blog.com. After I graduated, I successfully applied for BT’s graduate scheme and soon joined a merry band of security researchers at the main R&D campus in East Anglia, an hour North-East of London. We focused on service-oriented architectures (later APIs), identity management, federation, and access control. I took part in two massive EU-funded multi-million dollar projects, wrote a lot of papers, and contributed to a couple books on security. I had the privilege in the process of meeting and working with top talent in the security industry (the likes of Bruce Schneier, Mark O’Neill, and Babak Sadighi).

In 2010, I moved to another country, another life, and another startup, Axiomatics, where I work now. We were a small dedicated team of 10 individuals wearing multiple hats from developing to sales and marketing. Little by little we grew the company to about 50 employees and started focusing on specific roles. I let go of core development to focus on product management for a few years helping to design a couple of new products and features in the process. In 2015, our CEO and I decided to move to Chicago to expand our US operations and I took over the role of VP sales engineering, professional services, and support, creating a dedicated team of strong solutions architects that help our customers onboard our technology.

And that brings us to today. A Chicagoan by adoption (I love deep dish and the Sox) with one foot in dev (I spend a lot of time lurking in the dark corners of Stackoverflow), one foot in product management (the outbound part, talking to our growing customer base), one foot in solutions engineering / project management helping our customers implement fine-grained authorization, and one foot giving back to the identity community by contributing to standards (mainly XACML and ALFA) and helping found IDPro. Yes, that’s 4 feet. A lot of socks.

Thanks for reading. You can find me on LinkedIn and StackOverflow.