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Mercedes England, M.E.E.I '09

Providing security to a connected world

Embedding internet-connected electronics into a range of everyday devices has made life easier and more convenient for people. It’s also introduced a myriad of privacy and cybersecurity threats to guard against.

Keeping connected devices safe is a niche that Canada’s former smart phone giant BlackBerry is capitalizing on, with McMaster grad Mercedes England playing an important program manager role.

“BlackBerry is bringing its renowned security to all kinds of connected devices,” says England, service realization manager for the company’s security-licensed solutions. “We work with manufacturers and other companies looking to assure customers that their products have privacy and security features endorsed by BlackBerry.”

One of her favourite parts of her job is the opportunity to work with cross-functional teams, both inside her company and within other firms. “It’s really enriching because of the synergy created from the diversity in fields and skills.”

While earning her Master’s in Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEEI), England co-founded PatraTec Inc., a company that sold simple and inexpensive water testing kits for use by the general public. In 2011, she joined BlackBerry.

“The MEEI program beautifully combined technical and business know-how, and gave me the experience of creating a new business with the guidance of fantastic mentors,” she says.  “I still have dreams of having my own company, but one is never too old to dream.”

Through multiple professional and personal pivots, England says her approach has been to embrace change. “I focus not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Her advice for today's students: “If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you. Be open to mentorship and guidance in the process. Life never stops teaching.”