Panel on Privacy Engineering Career Paths

Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 9:00 am10:15 am

Moderator: Divya Sharma, Google

Panelists: Giles Douglas; Alison Huml, Facebook; Lea Kissner, Humu; Sha Sundaram, Snap


Privacy engineering is rapidly gaining significance across all sectors in industry. As privacy is a socio-technical issue, there are multiple backgrounds and perspectives which are relevant to solving the problems at hand. In this panel, we will hear from senior people in the privacy engineering field about their experiences as well as their (diverse) backgrounds and career paths in privacy engineering. The panel will also focus on lessons encountered in the process of engineering privacy and the perspectives that the panelists have found useful to better navigate the field.

Divya Sharma, Google

Divya Sharma is a Senior Privacy Engineer in Google Search and Assistant Privacy team. Previously, she has held roles as privacy engineering lead for Google AI Healthcare Research and for Google Assistant, as part of the Central Privacy and Security Engineering team. Her research interests lie at the intersection of privacy and security, accountability, applied machine learning and human‐computer interaction. Prior to Google, Divya was at Thomson Reuters where she led the ‘Privacy by Design' initiative for Thomson Reuters, and also worked in the Applied Machine Learning Research team.

Divya completed her PhD at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in data privacy and security.

Giles Douglas[node:field-speakers-institution]

Giles was the engineering lead for privacy review at Google for the last 2 years. He spent 14 years at Google, and led the internal payments team to scale and secure the system. He has worked on public facing internet websites since 1996.

Giles received a B.Sc. (Hons) Mathematics from the University of Warwick in 1995.

Alison Huml, Facebook

Alison leads Security and Privacy programs at Calibra, Facebook’s Blockchain effort. Prior to joining Facebook, she was a Privacy Engineering Manager at Snap and spent almost 10 years at Google where her work included leading Privacy Incident Response, Privacy M&A and incident management for GSuite. She started her career on the quieter side of engineering in technical writing. At Google she managed Android and Chrome writers and at Sun Microsystems, she co-wrote The Java Tutorial site and book series. She holds a BA from UC Berkeley.

Lea Kissner, Humu

Lea Kissner is the Chief Privacy Officer of Humu. She works to build respect for users into everything that Humu does, such as product design, privacy-enhancing infrastructure, application security, and novel research into both theoretical and practical aspects of privacy. She was previously the Global Lead of Privacy Technology at Google, working for over a decade on projects including logs anonymization, infrastructure security, privacy infrastructure, and privacy engineering. She earned a Ph.D. in computer science (with a focus on cryptography) at Carnegie Mellon University and a BS in electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley.

Sha Sundaram, Snap

Sha Sundaram is a seasoned privacy and security engineer. She has brought her 10 years of experience in privacy engineering at Google and Symantec Research Labs to lead Snap’s Privacy Engineering team. She has been instrumental in building Snapchat app features with privacy in mind. She has been responsible for building infrastructure and supporting GDPR compliance for Snap engineering. Back from maternity leave, she is excited to put together new privacy projects.

Sha holds an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University. Her first major influence was John Mitchell at Stanford University where she worked on the TRUST (Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology) team as well as early efforts of privacy for theoretical computer science.

@inproceedings {238158,
author = {Divya Sharma and Giles Douglas and Alison Huml and Lea Kissner and Sha Sundaram},
title = {Panel on Privacy Engineering Career Paths},
booktitle = {2019 {USENIX} Conference on Privacy Engineering Practice and Respect ({PEPR} 19)},
year = {2019},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug