Meet Shannon Lietz, head of Vulnerability Labs at Adobe

Green Lock and Astronauts.

Shannon Lietz recently joined Adobe as VP of Vulnerability Labs, reporting to Mark Adams, Adobe’s chief security officer. In her role, Shannon will lead the offensive security teams at Adobe to define and innovate a world-class program to enhance our ability to detect and defend against real-world threats.

Offensive security teams help companies anticipate potential vulnerabilities before an adversary can use them. These teams actively test defenses and help provide valuable insights into an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

Shannon brings with her over three decades of experience in technology and security and joins Adobe from Intuit, where she led the company’s Development, Security, and Operations (DevSecOps), Offensive Security, Red Team, and Cloud Security teams.

Photograph of Shannon Lietz

We had a chance to talk with Shannon about her background and new role. Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

What attracted you to Adobe?

I have admired Adobe for quite some time. In fact, I have been a customer since the mid-1990’s. The company’s revolutionary technology, global scale, and diverse customer base drew me in but its innovative approach to security sealed the deal.

Offensive security is my passion and having the opportunity to work alongside an amazing team of security professionals that are building security into the core of everything we do is really exciting. I am thrilled to join Adobe and continue to build upon the great work everyone is doing to deliver stand-out digital experiences.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to building upon the warm culture, friendly faces, and innovative approach to solving customer needs. Not only am I able to fully commit myself to leading Vulnerability Labs at Adobe, but I get to do it with the strength of great talent. Being part of Adobe has already been super rewarding and I am looking forward to what we can accomplish in the future.

What will you be working on at Adobe?

In my role, I am leading the innovative, offensive security program that we call Vulnerability Labs at Adobe. This is a dream come true for me. This team will be founded on many emerging concepts I have been driving throughout the industry for years. We’ve already brought in some amazing offensive security talent. Teams have quickly embraced us and it’s great to see the continued focus on security as we bring in new concepts to make it easier for developers to implement security requirements and enhancements. I’m truly excited about the future of cybersecurity and the possibilities that Adobe brings to the table for concepts such as DevSecOps.

Cybersecurity is constantly changing — how do you keep learning? How do you see the industry changing in the next 3-5 years?

The cybersecurity industry is always evolving and keeping us on our toes so staying on top of current trends and seeing around corners is extremely important. I like to spend my time reading up on the latest industry news and keeping in close touch with industry peers. Being in the offensive security space, it’s even more important to keep up with the latest trends to enhance our programs so that we can stay prepared.

At heart, I’m a people leader by day and a researcher at night. I’ve invested my time and passion towards my commitments at Adobe, ONUG and Chief so that I can continue to give back to the community. Being highly engaged and involved has led to lots of opportunities to experiment, learn, and help others to connect with people that can help them further their goals.

How do you encourage and support other women — in your field and beyond?

I was inspired about a decade ago by a peer to get engaged in supporting more diversity within the industry. She continues to be a role model for me and an example for many women. She was instrumental in helping me see that I could do so much more if I would only open my eyes to the problem and potential solutions.

I have been a deeply hands-on, technical security professional for longer than most of the security concepts we know today ever existed. In fact, I remember when we didn’t even have firewalls. At the time, there were almost no women in the technology field, and it was rare to cross paths with someone who would even consider mentoring a woman in the field. For the most part, as a woman you simply took any job that others didn’t want so you could grow. I think that it was probably tougher than it should have been and that brought with it a bit of armor. Shedding this armor took some work and required acknowledging how tough it was.

Recently, I joined Chief where I am part of a cohort of amazing women looking to change the world. I have been devoting countless hours to mentoring other women. I look forward to the opportunities that Adobe For All inspires and am engaging in our Women’s network here.

In the security field, my advice and counsel for other women… don’t be so tough on yourself. It’s challenging enough to balance your life, your home, your work, and all things important to you. Setting goals and taking risks is part of the process of developing skills. We cannot expect to be perfect from the start.

What advice would you give women who are looking into a career in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is an amazing opportunity for women. There are many roles that can be wholly accomplished from home with flexible work hours. Cybersecurity is a challenging but very rewarding career option. There are various options and resources available today that are catered to help women learn and grow in the cybersecurity field. A significant number of women are paving the way to create extended learning communities. And most importantly, there are over 3 million unfilled job opportunities in the cybersecurity field that really need to filled and why not with a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences.

What’s an interesting fact about you that not many people know?

I think people believe I’m the stereotypical workaholic because I spend a lot of time on technology and security. Most people think that all I do is work. Reality is, I am very artistic and love to garden. I spend lots of my free time figuring out how I want to design things with a heavy emphasis on designing outdoor spaces. Learning about new plants and engaging with the elements has been helpful towards balancing my life. More importantly, it gives me energy and time to dream about the future.

Finding ways to be imaginative and to express yourself openly are a critical part of who we are. Having goals that include more than work is essential to our growth as human beings. It gives us the ability to look at the bigger picture and find our purpose. Understanding what we need gives the inspiration to change and adapt. It allows us to leave the world a better place than when we found it.