HPW’s Inspiring Women series profiles remarkable Greek-American professional women whose stories of success inspire and encourage us to achieve our own career goals and aspirations.
NICOLE M. FELLOURIS, ILO, PhDc., SME
Nicole M. Fellouris, ILO, PhDc., SME: Nicole’s career as both an entrepreneur and cyber security practitioner spans over 20 years. In 1998, while pursuing Pre-Med studies at UCI, Nicole was recruited to serve as CIO of VC backed technology VAR, ComponentsDirect.com. In 2001, after resigning as CIO and delaying medical school entrance, she bootstrapped her own cyber security start up, Elite Development Group (EDG). As a Founder & CEO, Nicole and team were responsible for direct remediation of over a hundred cyber security incidents and breaches; in addition to being tasked with numerous penetration tests and security audits specific to the Cobit, PCI and SOX frameworks. In 2004, Nicole’s accomplishments and contributions to the cyber security community were recognized by both Federal Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies, resulting in a board member appointment to the LA division of Infragard (FBI/Private Industry Organization), inclusion in the Secret Service’s Electronic Crimes Task Force, think tank participation specific to I.T. Security centric compliance frameworks, and after successful vetting by the DOJ, officiated as a Subject Matter Expert in Cyber Security and Cyber War Fare. Nicole has also graduated from both the FBI and ATF’s Citizen’s Academies and the FBI’s Infrastructure Liaison Officer (ILO) program, specializing in cyber counter intelligence operations and asymmetric warfare. In 2011, she began her doctoral studies in clinical and computational neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and UCI, while continuing to consult on Blockchain, Cyber Security and Compliance Initiatives.
Contributor: Frederica Bolgouras
What is your passion?
I have a deep sense of compassion and empathy which drives me to address other people’s pain points and barriers to success. My medium is technology and science which allows me to solve highly complex problems. There’s always a “human” aspect to everything I do; someone’s else’s interests are always the driving factor.
What motivated you to move into your profession?
My first love was medical science as I wasn’t introduced into technology until I was in college. When I realized I could use the same skill set in both it was an epiphany. Choosing to be an entrepreneur at such a young age allowed me the freedom to innovate in an emerging field according to my conscience with minimal friction.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
I’ve drawn most of my life inspiration from my Mother and Yia Yia (her Mother). They were both very strong women who taught me the importance of character and the value of hard work, perseverance and family.
Tell me about a few of your most proud accomplishments?
I’m equally humbled and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life that I could turn into professional accomplishments. Regardless of the challenges I have overcome in my professional or academic career; they pale in comparison to the trauma I endured while pregnant with my only child Daphne. Starting over in life; especially as the single Mother is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, if not the hardest. With her turning 6yrs old this year, I’m able to appreciate deeply the sacrifices and decisions I made at the beginning. Motherhood required me to simultaneously reach into and out of myself, while redefining my identity as a woman, all at the same time. The personal growth involved was brutal for a time.
Was there anything you would have done differently?
I didn’t learn the importance of self-acceptance and practicing self-compassion until much later in life. The mistakes I’ve made can almost always be attributed to taking focus from leveraging my strengths and getting lost in my areas of weakness. When we are honest with ourselves, we can see the complete picture of our identity. Taking the time to get clarity through the noise is so important to living a life by design instead of default.
What advice would you give to professional Hellenic-American Women today in their careers?
Have clear priorities and make decisions in accordance to them always. Becoming a Mother was such a huge paradigm shift for me. It forced me to understand I had only so much time and energy and I needed to focus on being effective as both a Mother and a businesswoman.
What impact has your Greek heritage had on your career and professional life?
I draw a tremendous amount of strength from my Greek heritage. During times of personal challenge and discouragement I fall back on the stories my Yia Yia used to tell me of our family and as a Spartan, resilience and strength is in my blood.
Who has inspired you in your career? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org