Women in Technology: Sarah Sederstrom

In the September 2017 Technology issue, the Docket spoke to six women who are leading the vanguard in Silicon Valley and beyond. From San Francisco to Austin and Singapore, these women exemplify the mix of fortitude, talent, and foresight necessary to succeed where there is no roadmap for success. Email editorinchief@acc.com if you know a woman in the legal tech sphere who would like to be featured in the Docket or ACCDocket.com.

Technology is so intertwined with our everyday lives that we often don’t notice it’s there until it’s gone. For many people, if their company’s computer system goes down, they can’t do their job. Wunderman Senior Legal Counsel Sarah Sederstrom knows that the threat is there and always looming. “A data breach can happen to anyone,” she warns. Nevertheless, Sederstrom has developed precautionary strategies to remain one step ahead of a potential malware and ransomware attack. All it takes is one suspicious email to bring her company to a halt.

Wunderman is a leader in marketing data and marketing data operations, and protecting that data is Sederstrom’s top concern. Through their data and analytics platforms, Wunderman helps brands identify which aspects of their creative campaigns are the most successful at engaging their consumers. As senior legal counsel at the company’s Minneapolis branch, she works closely with Wunderman’s IT team to safegaurd the vast amounts of customer and client data stored in their proprietary databases and host systems. “The protection of data is just such a huge issue now that you can’t talk about technology without talking about data security and privacy,” Sederstrom says.

Whether it’s a minor website hack or a potentially catastrophic breach that comprises their data or systems, Wunderman has varying response plans to mitigate potential risks. “[First] we have a policy and a procedure in place for how we go through the assessment,” she explains. “One team is noticed of the issues, and then there’s an escalation process that depends on the incident.” If it’s severe, executives from different departments will become involved to assess and resolve the situation. Since she’s been there, her team at Wunderman has yet to face a data breach — and she plans to keep it that way.

Though she champions cybersecurity now, Sederstrom didn’t seek a job in technology. Initially, she began her career in accounting. It wasn’t until she took a business law class for her MBA that she noticed she was “the loudest accountant in class,” and realized her personality was best suited for law. After earning her law degree, she leveraged her business experience to secure a position as an in-house counsel.

Sederstrom’s transition to technology and privacy, though unintentional, was seamless. She went where she was needed, and she soon discovered that the fast-paced world of technology was the perfect fit. “That’s where so much of the action in business is,” she notes. “There’s never a dull moment.” In fact, she hopes to expand in her career in legal tech. “Right now it’s really exciting to be in the technology space and privacy space, so I’d like to find a spot to grow more.”

Continuous learning is essential for Sederstrom, not only to be fulfilled at work, but also because her field requires it. Technology is an ever-changing juggernaut that waits for no one to keep up. And just as technology advances rapidly, so do the threats that can compromise them. To stay up to speed, Sederstrom plans to learn more IT skills, such as coding, information security infrastructure, and even the methods that hackers use. That way, she can continue to stay one step ahead of them before they hack.