Career Notes 11.15.20
Ep 24 | 11.15.20

Malek Ben Salem: Taking those challenges. [R&D]


Malek Ben Salem: My name is Malek Ben Salem and I am the Americas Security R&D Lead for Accenture.

Malek Ben Salem: As a child, I don't know, I was, I guess, fascinated by astrophysics. I was amazed by the the NASA discoveries right of new planets and, you know, stars and learning about the black holes and so that was something I really wanted to pursue. But I think the driver is my love for math.

Malek Ben Salem: After high school, I went to an engineering school. I had basically the choice of selecting what type of engineering degree I wanted to do, and I've gone for electrical engineering. What I heard is that it was very challenging and difficult. It was basically why I've chosen it. Again, I went just you know solving something that is that other people find challenging was just basically a motivator for me. I really wanted to take those challenges.

Malek Ben Salem: So right after I graduated, I got an offer from IBM. So I worked for their server group at the time. Also using math, not related to electrical engineering, though, but more using math for data mining and forecasting and segmentation of their customers, whether they were hardware customers or software DB2 customers. And then I worked in their microelectronics division where my electrical engineering background was helpful. So I worked in the semiconductor fab, which was the first fully automated semiconductor fab in the world.

Malek Ben Salem: The journey with IBM took about nine years, but in parallel, I decided that I wanted to pursue my graduate degree in computer science this time. And so as I was working for IBM, I started taking classes at Columbia University for my master's degree in computer science. There I met a professor who was using data mining and machine learning to study or to solve intrusion detection problem. So I've worked with him on a research project and then I continued with him later on when I pursued my PhD research. And that was basically the pivot to cybersecurity.

Malek Ben Salem: I'm developing and applying new AI techniques to solve security problems. We cannot have a digital economy without having trust in that economy, and the trust relies on ensuring that data is secure, that our communications are secure. So working on something that important is very exciting. The fact that I work in R&D at a company like Accenture, which is a very large company, but also where I work on an R&D project from concept all the way to full solution that my colleagues, my consultant colleagues at Accenture can take to the market to our client, feels like working for for a startup company while working for for a large company while having the you know, the luxury, if you will, or the safety of working for a large corporation. And I'm doing that over and over. So every few years, basically, I'm bringing some new solution to the market and that is very exciting.