Booz Allen’s Duvelza Saenz on Cyber, Leadership, and Shaping a Multicultural Tech Workforce

Oct 23, 2019 7:00 AM ET
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Growing up, there were only two careers that interested Booz Allen Lead Associate Duvelza Saenz: cyber warrior or Xena the Warrior Princess. Lucky for the cyber world, Booz Allen, and the many women and girls Saenz mentors and supports, she went with the former.

A passion for bringing people together—including the next generation

“I enjoy the collaborative environment that Booz Allen encourages,” Saenz said. “We have awesome team members with unique backgrounds who are open to innovative ideas.”  

Saenz aims to make technology teams even more inclusive, inside and outside of the office. She’s a member of Booz Allen’s Global Multicultural Business Resource Group and the founder and CEO of the nonprofit G.R.I.T.T., which stands for Girl Refugees In Tech Training. She’s also a leading member of the San Antonio-based meet up group for Women in Cyber Security (WiC) and Tech and a Girl Scout Troop Leader for the Girl Scouts Southwest Texas Region supporting STEM for Girls.

Turning child’s play Into a rewarding career

Saenz was introduced to technology at a young age as well—in her case, via puzzles.

“I was always interested in different types of puzzles, especially mechanical and cryptic,” she said. “I found the logic and reasoning processes throughout puzzle-solving to be calming.”  

Now the puzzle she’s piecing together is how technology like AI can help keep America safe. After roughly a decade serving in the United States Navy, Saenz leads teams of data scientists, DevOps engineers, and cyber threat hunters in deploying AI technologies for Department of Defense cyber operations.

“Booz Allen gives me the freedom to change the world by creating world-class capabilities for the U.S. Cyber Warfighter as well as consulting on state-of-the-art tech,” she said.

Lessons in leadership

“Trust your intuition,” Saenz advised other women in cybersecurity. “When you notice that a system seems flustered, whether that system is an Agile scrum team in a sprint, a database teetering on a denial of service outage, or a compromised collection system, speak up. Be persistent.”

And make the technology world a welcoming place for other women: “Take care of one another,” she said. “Support one another. Be an ally and a coach whenever possible.”

Read more about cybersecurity at Booz Allen