Women in Business Q&A: Nancy Zayed, Founder and CTO, MagicCube

Women in Business Q&A: Nancy Zayed, Founder and CTO, MagicCube 820 708 C-Suite Network

Nancy Zayed, is founder and Chief Technology Officer of MagicCube, a digital commerce security start-up located in Silicon Valley. Prior to her current role, Nancy was the Head of Engineering and Operations at innoPath, a founding member of OMA, where she led the global engineering development and service teams responsible for shipping Android, Rex, iOS, Windows Mobile and Symbian products. Within this role she was also accountable for the P&L of OEM & OTA technology client engineering, operations, OEM adoption, and carrier management.

Nancy is an advocate of the social and economic empowerment of women in STEM careers. She has been an example in this area by taking on numerous leadership roles, including Head of Platform Development at Cisco Systems, where she was in charge of the company’s telepresence product and its secure endpoints for the consumer market. She also headed the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) mobile technology at Palm, where she spearheaded the move to air-interface agnostic technologies and IP Multimedia Subsystems integration.

Nancy also spent more than ten years at Apple, holding several technical leadership roles within the organization’s traditional and new operating systems, and video engineering areas. During her time at Apple, she helped secure the company’s second Emmy presented by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on the Primetime Engineering Award category for the company’s efforts and impact on the television industry.

Nancy holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Software Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

How has your life experience made you the leader that you are today?

I’m in a continuous process of analyzing and applying my life experience. I am always learning, but at the heart is what my parents emphasized: Education, education, education! They instilled in me, my sister and my brother that ambition should not be bound or defined by gender.

As we grew up, they taught us that gender equality does not mean preferential treatment, but rather equal opportunity. They also instilled in us the celebration of ambition.

Flash forward to college, there was one class that made a significant difference to me – a philosophy class called “Inductive Inference”. That class reconciled science with the typical defiance and rebellion any young person goes through, showing that evidence and data-based logical thinking and processing will transform that rebellion into innovative and effective non‑conformance.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at MagicCube?

I was lucky enough to see good examples of leaders. I was also lucky to see and experience bad examples of leaders at every level of the org chart. People who don’t deal with bad leaders miss a lot, believe it or not. You learn not only from your own mistakes, but also from the mistakes of others.

When I was at Apple, Steve Jobs made a huge positive impact.

I also saw the destructive impact of a bad leader. A bad leader can cause a company to nosedive. You learn from both and you see the impact from both.

Bringing my experience to MagicCube, we are adamant that we bring on positive and encouraging sources of energy.

Seeing the good and the bad helps us build the right culture at MagicCube – a positive one.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at MagicCube?

For any startup, the challenges typically outnumber the highlights by a lot. That’s exactly why each highlight, when it happens, is many orders of magnitude more powerful and more effective.

And when you get a highlight, it makes all those challenges and the effort worth it. Our main challenge here at MagicCube is that our cutting-edge approach to security and our technology are, in a big way, non‑conformist.

We opted to challenge the status quo and the accepted norms, not just for the sake of breaking things down and saying, “Oh, we are so disruptive.” No. “The point is: what exists now isn’t cutting it. It needs to be revised continuously and carefully to properly secure the mobile and IoT world.”

The other challenge is the one typical of any startup: which is playing or facing big name companies. It is hard. We’re not too worried about that but we’re not, of course, taking it lightly, either. That’s a challenge, or a couple of challenges.

One of our main highlights has been the ability to get that technology-that non‑conformant technology-validated by third party security labs.

The other one is winning the attention and the support of innovative executives within industry giants. When you catch the attention of an executive…