Expanding her intellect has always been a priority for Malek Ben Salem.
Born and raised in Tunisia, she left home as a teenager to obtain her undergraduate degree and then a master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Hanover in Germany. Then she earned another master’s and a Ph.D. in computer science at Columbia University in New York City. Along the way, Ben Salem added seven patents to her name. Sounds like a recipe for a brilliant and rewarding career.
Except it wasn’t. “I was in my 20s, and I took a class on time management,” Ben Salem recalls. “One exercise was about imagining yourself at the end of your life and thinking back. I started thinking about my work as an engineer and as a data miner, optimizing processes. How could that be meaningful versus the work of doctors who are helping save lives?”
Ben Salem didn’t find meaning in her work until she joined Accenture in 2011 and began working in cybersecurity. Then, she says, “I realized that the work that we do, particularly securing medical devices like an insulin pump or a heart pacer, could mean saving the life of a patient. You don't have to be a doctor to find meaning in your work or to save lives. You can be a technologist."
At Accenture, Ben Salem’s cybersecurity work touches many other industries besides medicine —communications and banking, to name two more. Since we do so many things online today—from making purchases to filing taxes—Ben Salem says we need trust in the digital infrastructure.
So now she is doing her part to secure that trust—and it feels very rewarding to her: “Here I am, doing state-of-the-art work that is critical to protecting the global economy.”
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