In this edition of All Things Upside, we chat with Senior Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) Lead Melissa Linarte, and learn about her career pivot from our Operations team to her current role within our Information Security team. Additionally, she provides further insights into the measures her team takes to ensure our customer’s information security.
Upside: What inspired you to join the Upside team, and what has your journey been so far?
Melissa: After completing my college education, I discovered my inclination toward the technology industry. I stumbled upon a job posting for an Operations Analyst at Upside. The company's product seemed impressive, and the people I met during the interview exuded passion for the company's vision and mission. I felt compelled to be a part of this revolutionary force that was set to transform the retail industry.
Following a year-long stint with the Operations team, I transitioned to the Information Security team, where I have remained ever since.
Upside: What sparked your interest in moving to a new team at Upside?
Melissa: I pursued a major in International Relations, but my interest in Cybersecurity always lingered in the back of my mind. I returned to school to pursue a professional degree in Cybersecurity at George Washington University while continuing to work at Upside. As my first year of studies drew close, my team lead informed me of Upside's plan to establish an in-house information security team. I was approached by one of the original co-founders in charge of forming the team, Tom Vaughan, and shared my ongoing studies and career aspirations with him. Tom graciously offered me the chance to assist in building the program and the opportunity to earn a position on the team. He also became an invaluable mentor during this pivotal period of my professional journey.
Upside: What has your role been within the InfoSec team?
Melissa: Being among the initial members of the team, I had the opportunity to develop the program from the ground up. This involved establishing a security framework and setting policies and standards to guide internal parties in managing information and consumer data. These measures reassure our external partners that we handle their data securely and act in their best interests.
Last year, I was promoted to Senior Governance, Risk, and Compliance Lead. In this role, I oversee and manage an organization's compliance with regulatory requirements, policies, and procedures related to governance, risk management, and compliance. This involves ensuring that the organization's activities and processes are aligned with legal and ethical standards, industry best practices, and internal policies.
Upside: What has been the most memorable project you’ve worked on during your time at Upside?
Melissa: It has to be the first big project I worked on, obtaining our ISO 27001 compliance. It was a large undertaking for such a small team, two people at the time. Having the ISO certification shows people that Upside is operating using a gold standard in the industry. We are doing our due diligence to ensure that everything we are developing and offering as a service is done with best practices in mind. It is a diligent standard to uphold year round but necessary to get our company in scenarios to compete with the best in the retail industry.
Upside: As someone in a highly collaborative role, what has been your experience working with other teams at Upside?
Melissa: Collaborating with other teams has been an amazing experience. The amount of knowledge one can gain is remarkable. Working with others allows you to acquire new skills, and Upside fosters an environment that values new ideas and diverse opinions. When you approach tasks with curiosity and innovation, Upside is committed to investing in your personal growth and development.
Upside: What would be your dream job if you weren’t working in your current role?
Melissa: Becoming a stand-up comedian has been a long-standing aspiration of mine. Although I enjoy my current profession, comedy is something that intrigues me. I could spend hours watching stand-up and attending comedy shows to discover new acts. Comedy provides a fantastic outlet for me outside of work and can offer a unique perspective on difficult situations. In my opinion, laughter truly is the best medicine!
Upside: What else do you enjoy outside of work?
Melissa: Before joining Upside, I was employed in the fashion industry. Sometimes, when a job becomes routine, it can diminish the passion for it. Unfortunately, this happened to me while working in fashion. Now that I have moved on from that industry, I find myself able to enjoy it once more. I am intrigued by the creative process of a designer's choices and appreciate seeing a complete collection come together. In addition, I have developed a love for hiking and biking, which started while living in DC.
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