Salima Kaissi is a Director at Okta Ventures, helping Okta identify, invest, and support startups building technology enabled by identity, security, and privacy. Prior to joining the ventures team, Salima led Okta’s Cloud Partnerships building a business from the ground up with multi hundreds of millions of dollars in co-sell revenue. Previously she worked with different tech companies including Microsoft and Nokia, in different geos across the globe.
EVCA: Describe a defining moment in your career and how it shaped where you are today.
Salima: In my first month at my engineering school, ENSA de Tanger in Morocco, I learnt about this international organization for engineers called IEEE (Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), that we can have our own local engineering student branch if a certain number of students join the organizations as members, and be connected to other student branches around the world. I loved the idea and it took me a couple years of hard work to establish the branch, the first one in Morocco. From there I kept climbing the ladder and getting nominated for prestigious volunteering roles in Morocco, France, EMEA and globally, working with students, young professionals and IEEE BoD.
In 2011, I was invited to join an IEEE conference in San Francisco to receive an Award for my volunteering work. This was my first time visiting the US and I literally left my heart in San Francisco; during this visit, I met a precious person who is my husband today. We got married a few years ago and that was the reason I moved to the US, and I guess the reason I’m working with Okta today!
EVCA: What is an emerging technology trend that will have a significant impact on the world in the next decade?
Salima: I may sound biased to say identity because I work at Okta, but I work at Okta for a reason, and because I personally firmly believe in the role identity has and will continue to have as an impact in the future. Identity is the new perimeter and is a crucial technology to avoid major security threats, mainly in the increasing remote first world.
As part of our investment work, it’s exciting to see how almost every startup in the cybersecurity space needs an integration with an identity and access management technology to provide a more secure solution for their customers.
Innovation in identity will continue as it's getting empowered by emerging technologies including AI, and blockchain that unlocks new use cases around decentralized identity or verifiable credentials.