8.3 min read

Stella Dineva

Dive into the world of cybersecurity with Stella, a seasoned expert boasting over 16 years of hands-on experience. With a rich background in both the financial and pharmaceutical sectors, Stella brings a wealth of knowledge to the table.

Join Stella in her High Tech in High Heels profile on an enlightening exploration of cybersecurity, where experience meets innovation, and security is paramount.

Get to know Stella

Your career at a glance

Throughout my career, I have worked in the financial and pharmaceutical sectors, and my expertise spans the complete vertical from Enterprise Risk & Operational management to 1st & 2nd Line Risk advisory and PCI compliance. I have held several roles throughout my career, including Communications and Network Engineer, Information Risk and Security Manager at ING Bank, and later at Ingenico, and Enterprise Security Architect at UCB Biopharma. Today, I am the Global Head of Cyber Expertise at Worldline.

Describe yourself in 3 words

  • Daring

  • Curious
  • Enthusiastic

On a scale of 1 to 5, where are you today in life?

On a scale of 1 to 5, where are you today in your career?

On a scale of 1 to 5, how happy are you today with your life?

Your favourite book?

My favorite book changes depending on my mood, but one that I consistently enjoy is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ Every time I read it, I discover new depths and layers to the story. I even remember some quirky and hilarious passages by heart from the very first time I read it! For example, there’s a place in the universe called Ursa Minor Beta— a sunny and vibrant planet that’s always on Saturday afternoon, just before the beach bars close!

Your favourite quote?

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”- Mark Twain

What childhood passion have you lost in adulthood?

I haven’t lost any of my childhood passions. Instead, I invested in taking them to the next level. I’m still a big kid at heart and I love singing like nobody’s listening, running around like a maniac, climbing everything in sight, playing with water balloons, and making a mess like it’s nobody’s business. Life’s just too short not to have fun, right? So, let’s go make some memories and keep that inner child alive and well!

Which passion or pastime will you never let go of?

That pure childish curiosity and thirst for exploration and learning is my main drive in life. Whether it’s trying something new or delving deeper into a topic I’m already familiar with, I’m always seeking to expand my knowledge and understanding of the world around me. So, I’ll continue fostering my inner child, asking questions, and exploring the world around me—because that’s where the real adventure lies!

Your dream of a completely different second career?

I always joke that when I win the lottery, I will retire and focus on charity. I have a few passion projects, most notably, helping human trafficking victims to escape, heal, and reintegrate into society.

Cut loose from all strings, what would you like to do with your life?

Enjoy travel and quality time with my loved ones and helping the less fortunate.

"Life's just too short not to have fun. So, let's go make some memories and keep that inner child alive and well!"

Stella’s career

Your work motivations?

The right level of autonomy, mastery and the sense of purpose.

How does your family contribute to your career?

My husband is my greatest inspiration and often gives me advice and mentors me.

The biggest obstacles to career growth in our industry?

Gender bias and all the stings attached to it.

Your biggest obstacles facing the technology industry?

The gender bias. I have been a senior expert in information security for a decade now, and people who don't know me always approach me 'as the secretary'.

What have you gotten noticed for throughout your career?

The optimal balance between technical background, hard skills and expertise, soft skills and solutions mindset.

The major accelerators for success in our field?

In addition to the required qualification as a minimum, I'd say solutions mindset and positive attitude.

“The major accelerators for success in our field are, in addition to the required qualification, a solutions mindset and a positive attitude.”

What question do you get asked most often in your line of work?

"Can we postpone this?"

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Collaboration with experts and the requirement to think outside the box.

Tell us about your role models and/or specific mentors.

My role model has an amazing analytical mind and leadership skills. I usually reach out to him when I don't know the most optimal path from a strategic point of view.

What is your leadership style?

I see my leadership style as collaborative and innovative. This involves fostering an environment that values diverse perspectives, encourages experimentation, and supports risk-taking. I believe that women's natural leadership style is 'leading from the back' - female leaders support and guide their teams from behind, allowing them to take ownership of their work and build their skills and confidence. I like this approach because I believe it fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Which supporting skills have helped you most as a leader?

Communication, empathy, coaching and mentoring.

"I believe that a woman's natural leadership style is 'leading from the back'. Female leaders support and guide their teams from behind, allowing them to take ownership of their work and build their skills and confidence."

Let’s get technical

What are you learning now that will be useful in the future?

I'm currently focusing on learning about coaching and strategy. These are invaluable skills that I believe will be incredibly useful in the future.

Tell us something about the technology that drives your current business.

I work in the fintech industry, where the driving technologies encompass a range of cutting-edge advancements. These include Mobile and digital banking platforms, Blockchain, APIs, Cloud computing, and last but not least, machine learning and AI. These technologies are revolutionizing the financial sector, enabling more efficient and secure transactions, personalized services, and innovative solutions to meet the evolving needs of customers. As technology continues to advance, staying updated and proficient in these key areas is crucial for driving innovation and maintaining competitiveness in the fintech landscape.

What is technology for you?

Technology serves as a vital enabler in our lives, encompassing everything from electricity to tools, software, hardware, and the internet. It has seamlessly integrated into modern society, becoming an indispensable part of our daily existence. Frankly, I can't envision life without it.

What are your views on future technology trends?

I am both curious and somewhat fearful. The extremely rapid advancement of AI may indeed put us at risk of a technological singularity.

In your opinion, what is the greatest technological invention and why?

Electricity has been a key enabler in advancing civilization. Its widespread availability has revolutionized industries, transformed communication, and enhanced our quality of life.

Rate these technologies from highest to least impact on business.

  1. AI
  2. Chat GPT
  3. Security
  4. Edge cloud
  5. Blockchain
  6. 6G
  7. 5G
  8. • Smartphones
  9. Social media
  10. Smart concepts (cities, buildings, …)

Can technology do good for society, or would it be better off without it? Explain.

In this modern age of technology, as an engineer, I firmly believe that the benefits far outweigh the risks

How do you keep your technology skills up to date?

Embracing continuous learning is essential every day.

Your favourite online tools?

From a technological perspective, in cybersecurity, I utilize a range of tools directly or indirectly to identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. These tools include both hardware and software that streamline these processes. I believe they play a crucial role in simplifying our tasks and reducing the subjective and emotional responses that can sometimes arise. Additionally, I leverage AI as a meta tool to analyze collected data and facilitate optimal business decisions.

Your favourite websites?

Cybersecurity and technology news outlets are essential for staying updated on the latest trends and developments. For example, Threatpost, Cyberscoop, Dark Reading, and Krebs on Security are reputable sources to follow.

Your favourite and least favourite technology products?

When it comes to technology solutions, my favorites are those that prioritize security, scalability, and platform agnosticism while effectively supporting the organization's business strategy. These solutions provide a robust foundation for growth and innovation, ensuring long-term success. On the other hand, my least favorite solutions are those plagued by issues such as bugginess, lack of scalability, high cost, vendor lock-in, and inadequate lifecycle management. These shortcomings can hinder efficiency, limit flexibility, and result in unnecessary expenses for the organization. In summary, I prioritize technology solutions that offer security, scalability, and alignment with business goals, while avoiding those that are unreliable, expensive, and restrictive

The woman behind the technology

What makes each human unique?

It depends on the level - our genetics, even in fraternal twins, define us as unique creations of nature. Every detail of our environment, upbringing, decisions, experiences, feelings, and circumstances makes us special and shapes our personality, behavior, and outlook on life

Does success compensate for value or morality?

No. Hard no.

What is the relationship between the mind and the body?

Two sides of one coin. Both affect the other one and are essential for each-others well-being.

“I am both curious and somewhat fearful about the extremely rapid advancement of AI. It may indeed put us at risk of a technological singularity.”

This or that?

Read the instruction manual

Just figure it out

Early adopter

Proven enthusiast





Fail at something

Never attempt it

Listen to the mind

Listen to the body




Physical book

Flying cars

Personal robots




Phone call

Brainstorming session

Solo research

Packed lunch


Work late

Start early

High Heels