When Safi Mojidi ‘14 began working in cybersecurity, the field didn’t quite exist yet.
Mojidi has always been interested in the latest technology. Born in Nigeria, he moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, when he was still small. While growing up, he was drawn to the latest gadgets and computers and began building websites in his free time.
“I was intrigued by technology,” he says.
Launching a career in technology
It was only natural for Safi, a transgender man, to pursue a career in information technology. He had a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and his first professional roles were in website development and communications where he got to combine his love of technology with his creative side. Six months into his new job, though, he knew he wanted more.
“It wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he explains. “I knew I wanted to do something in computers, but I wasn’t sure what.”
He began working for a government contractor in the Washington, DC, area, where he learned a wide range of skills working as part of a help desk team. By this time, he had begun pursuing a master’s degree in information assurance and security – a predecessor to today’s cybersecurity programs.
One day, he got to talking with a director who had walked into his office for help with his laptop. Mojidi mentioned his master’s program, and the director invited him to come to NASA to work on his cybersecurity team.
“This really propelled my career. I was in the right place at the right time,” says Mojidi.
Pivoting to cybersecurity
At age 23, he found himself working on computer forensics at NASA headquarters.
“This was hands-down my dream job,” he says.
He was fortunate to have a great mentor in his boss who later provided him with the opportunity to continue his career progression working at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. In this role, he was the base security officer for classified and unclassified networks.
“I got exposed to a ton of different things, and it really opened my eyes to the world of what cybersecurity could be,” he says.
Over the years, he continued to grow and evolve as a professional. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity, which he plans to complete later this year.
Following his passion
After several years of working in various cybersecurity roles for government contractors, in 2021 Mojidi was presented with the opportunity to work at Folx Health, a healthcare startup that serves the LGBTQ population with hormone replacement for gender affirmation, HIV PrEP medication and other support.
“The mission was absolutely something I could get behind. I work with great people all in it for the right reasons,” says Mojidi, who transitioned in 2016. “They understand that there is a gap in the market for this kind of care and the way we deliver it.”
He is the first cybersecurity professional at the company. As head of information security, he combines cybersecurity expertise and risk transparency to impact strategies that ensure data privacy and security for the LGBTQ population.
In addition to his day job, Mojidi is also co-launching a company called Pacletics that will offer comfortable, sustainable gender and size inclusive swimwear and athleisure for the transmasculine community. In fact, he recently earned his first patent for the design of one of his products.
Offering a hand up to the LGBTQ cyber community
When Mojidi was starting his career, he was fortunate to have a mentor to help him get his foot in the door. As his career progressed, though, he struggled to find a mentor who understood the challenges he faced as a transgender Black man in the cybersecurity industry.
In 2021, he founded Hacking the Workforce, a nonprofit organization on a mission to increase visibility and retention of Black LGBTQ professionals in leadership positions within cybersecurity and other technology fields. Mojidi also gives back by serving as a member of the TransTech Community Advisory Board and several other philanthropic organizations, sharing his knowledge, understanding and leadership in the tech industry while helping elevate professionals in the LGBTQ community.
“I know how badly I needed this kind of support,” he concludes. “It’s kind of my labor of love.
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