#ElliottProud: Brooke Pearson

#EP Pearson

Brooke Pearson runs the Security Awareness team at Uber. She has an M.A. in International Policy and Practice (MIPP) from the Elliott School and a B.A. in Communications Studies from Azusa Pacific University. Before joining Uber, she worked at Facebook on the Public Policy and Security teams, and at the State Department managing the Fulbright program for South & Central Asia. She also held a Fulbright grant in Macau from 2008-2009. Brooke grew up between Washington DC and Louisville, KY, and volunteers with programs that promote educational opportunity for underrepresented minority youth in the Bay Area.

When did you realize you wanted an international career?

I first left the U.S. in the Spring of 2001, when I went to Russia for 2 weeks with a group from my high school. I remember visiting the World War II museum in Moscow and learned for the first time about the war on the Eastern front. I lamented that my high school textbooks hadn’t mentioned the immense loss of life there. Intrigued by the culture and history of Russia, I taught myself Cyrillic and marveled in the similarities between our cultures. I realized that there was so much more to learn about the world and that I wanted to dedicate my life to promoting ties across cultures, through my career at the State Department, Facebook, and now Uber.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I run the cybersecurity awareness team at Uber. My day to day job entails managing internal communications, training, and awareness campaigns for Uber employees.

What are the current trends driving the future of your career field and what advice would you provide an Elliott School graduate student that is interested in your field of work?

You can be non-technical and still find a thriving career in cybersecurity. Our field requires project and program managers, product managers, communications professionals, and risk analysts, in addition to security engineers and analysts. If you’re interested in learning more about the field, the best way to get plugged in is to attend a local OWASP meetup or a Bsides conference.

How does your current position compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your degree at the Elliott School?

Great question! When I first started my degree at the Elliott School, I was working as a contractor for the State Department. I assumed I’d stay in Washington D.C. forever since my field was international public policy. However, after almost 5 years working for the federal government, I left to join the public policy team of Facebook in July of 2016. That year ended up being very tumultuous for our public policy teams, as you might guess, in light of the role that Facebook played in the U.S. presidential election.

From that point forward, I bounced from policy area to policy area, attempting to keep Facebook’s reputation afloat with global policymakers, rather than working to fix some of the company’s big issue areas. That reactive stance was an uncomfortable one for me, so when the chance to join Facebook’s cybersecurity team arose, I jumped. This was a chance to apply my communications background and public policy training to proactively drive behavior change, and I loved it. In cybersecurity, I developed an extremely marketable subject matter expertise, and my experience as a diplomat served me extremely well as I now liaise with executives around the world on security issues for Uber.

If you won the lottery but could only spend money on three items/causes, what would they be?

  • I’d fund more scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds to study abroad through entities like Global Kids, since traveling abroad at a young age directly impacted the trajectory of my career.
  • Pay off my parents’ debt, since they sacrificed so much for my sister and I
  • A house in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco or in Rockridge in Oakland… (sigh, if only. Not sure if you’ve heard, but Bay Area housing prices are outrageous!)

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. Find out more about this program by creating a CustomViewbook!

For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.