Laura Taylor Laura Taylor
Chief Technology Officer and Founder
Relevant Technologies, Inc.

Laura Taylor is the chief technology officer and founder of Relevant Technologies, Inc., an information security and IT professional services firm headquartered north of Boston. Her research has been sought out by the FDIC, the FBI, the Whitehouse, and numerous private sector organizations, and publicly held Fortune 500 companies. She is currently a contracted ZDNet bi-weekly columnist.

Previously Taylor was director of security research at TechnologyEvaluation.Com, where she managed the research of security technologies and their vendors, identifying and qualifying key criteria necessary to assist IT decision makers in making best-choice infrastructure investments.

Taylor has also been employed as CIO of Schafer Corporation, where she was responsible for all corporate network security for highly sophisticated weapons development, reconnaissance, and bio-technology initiatives. While CIO of Schafer, Taylor managed the network engineering and development of all corporate networks and applications. Within a six month time-frame, Taylor redesigned Schafer's DNS tables, installed a new firewall, identified and resolved serious messaging bottlenecks, and deployed secure encrypted mobile computing for remote users.

While director of information security at Navisite, Taylor put in place a world-class security team, who later built a secure eCommerce site for the biggest financial holding company in the world, NatWest. This site has withstood on-going security attacks, and scrupulous audits by security technologists and financial auditors, and is subject to all FDIC and Federal Reserve Bank on-line banking regulations.

Taylor draws upon 17 years of real-life industry experience when writing and speaking about emerging security technologies and trends. She has been consulted by a number of publications including the Boston Business Journal, Byte Magazine, Computer World, and PC Magazine. Her research is currently syndicated to numerous online publications including,, and

In 1998, she received Giga Information Group's ExperNet status. In 1993-94, she received three awards while working at Sun Microsystems - two Outstanding Performance Awards, and a CIS Security Award. Upon graduation from Skidmore College in 1983, Taylor was elected into Periclean Academic Honor Society.

1. What was your first job in technology?
My first job in technology was at Weather Services International (WSI). I worked in customer service doing primarily phone support. I also wrote the monthly Weather Almanacs that were purchased by TV stations, and developed some graphics that were broadcasted during the summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. We had to have our customer service desk up and operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so I often worked nights, weekends, and holidays.

2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
My most significant mentor has been a personal coach who I'd like to keep anonymous. My coach has advised me on leadership dilemmas, survival, trust, and learning to believe in my own capabilities.

3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
I would say that being a single Mom is probably my greatest challenge, and is a challenge that I am still working on mastering. I am always looking for new strategies to balance parenting with working full-time, which is one of the reasons that I decided to start my own company. Being my own boss is something that I have had in the works for a while - it allows me the flexibility to keep my own schedule - something that is critical to my productiveness. My son no longer needs to be in after school programs, and I am still able to put in 60-80 hours of work each week. I enjoy being able to set my own priorities ... and am now able to be home for dinner every night with my son ... something that I know from experience a lot of businesses don't value. My son will only be young once and I want to be the one to influence him, instead of having him raised by a Nanny. After he grows up I will have the rest of my life to put my own agenda first.

4. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
In order to protect the privacy of the most influential person in my life, I'd prefer not to mention this person by name. However, this person assisted me in overcoming some excruciatingly difficult personal circumstances which had I not overcome these challenges, were destined to consume me emotionally, personally, and professionally. In order to be successful professionally, it is very important to have one's personal life in order. This is one reason why companies should encourage their employees to put family first. Someone who puts their family first almost always produces at a higher level than someone who doesn't.

5. What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their careers in technology?
Probably the most important lesson that I would give to any woman beginning a career today is to believe in herself. There will be many people along the way who will tell you that your ideas are bad ones, you don't have the talent, and you'll never amount to anything. It takes a strong person, and also somewhat of a stubborn person, to not let these negative forces influence you and get the best of you. Early in my career I once had a supervisor tell me that I was not cut out for a technology career and might want to think about becoming a secretary. The next supervisor I had told me that I was an outstanding technologist. It's very important not to let yourself get seduced by the negative thoughts of others. Negative people try to suck you into their world of gloom and often resent successes you make. You have to notice negativity when it's happening so that it doesn't get the best of you.

6. What new technology do you believe will have the most positive impact on the world in the next 20 years? The most negative impact?
I think that the most impressive new technologies that we will see in the years ahead are in biotechnology. There are so many medical problems that can now be solved by electro-mechanical and electro-magnetic devices and diagnostic equipment that I believe we are on the forefront of an unprecedented health renaissance of sorts.

Technology will always be used for subversive purposes. I believe it won't be long before we start seeing terrorist web sites with active destructive technologies built into them, i.e. "Click here to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Moscow." It is unfortunate, but is bound to happen sooner or later.

On a lighter note:

1. If you could have dinner with any 2 people (living or not), who would they be?

One person I would like to have dinner with is Steve Jobs. I have always been a fan of Steve Jobs, long before he rekindled the flames at Apple. In 1987 my sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her I wanted the Steve Jobs biography, "The Journey is the Reward." Even after he was ousted from Apple, he always struck me as someone who had a clue.

Another person I would like to have dinner with is Ellen Hancock. You have to respect a woman who was ready to retire, but decided to give CEO of Exodus a shake as a last hurrah. I don't think anyone ever expected her to be so successful, but then again the talents of women are usually always under-rated. Any woman who is working at the same level of a man has to be twice as sharp to get half the acknowledgement. I am continually looking for new mentors and am forever wanting to find out the "secrets" of their successes.

2. What was the last book you read? What books do you love to recommend?
The last book I read was "The New New Thing." I'm actually still reading it. I really enjoy reading books about people, and finding out about who people are. Michael Lewis has an uncanny sense of noticing the small things about a person who make them uniquely themselves. He also clearly has an appreciation for the strong-willed and highly-oppositional genius in people, otherwise he wouldn't have chosen to write about Jim Clarke.

One of my favorite books to recommend is a children's book called The Phantom Tollbooth." It contains a lot of metaphors about existential topics such as setting personal expectations and finding meaning in everyday circumstances.

3. If you couldn't do what you are doing now, what profession would you choose?
Hmmm, that's a tough one. I suppose if I had to start at the get go, I might consider being a psychologist. I like connecting with people, and especially kids. I think that there are too many kids who don't get the kind of attention they really need. Child abuse and sexual abuse is far too rampant. Recovering from trauma is extremely difficult and many children never get the chance to have a quality childhood. If more energy were put into children there would be less crime and poverty.

4. What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is being able to leave the world a better place than how you found it, and alleviate as much suffering as possible along the way. Alleviating suffering and empowering others is one of the best ways to replenish your own energy supply. It is an upward cyclone of positivism.

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