Principal Engineer Asmae Mhassni has had an uncommon career journey—and the broad expertise she accumulated working in various product development areas gives her great success now, in security at Intel. Before joining Intel, she led the development of medical devices. “I very much enjoyed working on medical devices because of the significance and impact on the world.” She learned from this position something she takes with her to every role: “It’s important in whatever job I’m doing to understand the social and human impact.”
Mhassni gravitated to personal computing when she first joined Intel. She was then able to apply her systems engineering background to next-generation supercomputers as part of the Data Center Group. “I had a series of great managers and champions who understood what I bring to the table and saw that I provided a set of transferable skills that are applicable to any technology area. Taking on various engineering roles in different product contexts increased my empathy and resilience.” Her latest role is in microprocessor security. “My current focus is on the deep layers of security, but it all starts with making sense of the world around us. We can’t protect one piece in isolation, security requires connecting the dots across the entire ecosystem.”
Using her systems engineering expertise, Mhassni makes connections across threats, protection needs, hardware, and software to secure upcoming technologies. As part of Intel’s secure development strategy that includes both offense and defense, her team is focused on proactive security and forward-looking architectures. On proactive security, she says, “A good defense relies on many things to succeed, and often when done successfully no one will notice what your defense has achieved, and you certainly won’t receive the majority of popular press coverage that the offense part of security gets.”
Mhassni says her goal is “to continue to raise trust in Intel’s products and technology,” and that this mission has never been more important. “When I think about the current environment with COVID, our ability to provide the trusted computing foundation is key. If you look at the institutions that we trust every day, the research around discovering vaccines, or the computers that enable people to do their day-to-day work, Intel is the cornerstone. That cornerstone has to be trusted and secure.”
On working in security, she says, “complexity is a huge enemy, and it’s continuously on the rise as we have more devices and we’re more and more connected.” Mhassni embraces this challenge, saying, “I continue to learn, adapt, and find ways to simplify the complex. I will always be learning something … I try to never get too comfortable. As I transitioned from PCs to supercomputers and now security, transitions are overwhelming at first, but resiliency is learning to embrace those challenges.”
As a busy mom of 4-year-old twins, Mhassni is always looking to stay physically active to keep up with her kids’ energy. She appreciates that Intel promotes a healthy lifestyle and provides fitness centers with amazing instructors. “Having a great place to work and being able to bring my whole self to work is very important to me,” she says.
When looking forward and thinking about advice for engineers, Mhassni says, “we are working with leading edge technology and solving complex problems. Things will get tough, but hone in on your superpowers. Knowing your value is important.”
Interested in a Career in Security at Intel? Start here intel.com/securityconnect