Protecting Privacy in the Metaverse

Rebecca Beard is on the Privacy Leadership Team at Meta
Being part of the Privacy Leadership Team at Meta, Facebook’s parent company, which focuses on developing augmented and virtual reality technology, means thinking outside the box.

It’s a daunting task for a team responsible for protecting users' privacy rights. However, as a leader on the team, Rebecca Beard (‘01, Art) finds this task effortless, thanks to the time she spent as an Art major at Cal Poly Humboldt.

“Meta hires some of the smartest people in the world, and I continue to learn and grow as a leader within the company. The culture at Meta pushes you to think differently and collaborate with teams across the company to develop creative solutions to difficult problems,” Beard says.

Beard is excited about the work she does at Meta, getting to set the stage for how privacy-enhancing technologies will change the world. As a leader of a team of global managers who develop privacy practices to protect users' data in the Metaverse, she works with Meta's privacy engineers to create products like virtual reality consoles and smart glasses.

Beard’s team at Meta previously worked in collaboration with Luxottica, makers of RayBan, to create a pair of sunglasses that could record video and post that footage directly to social media. Meta needed to develop a mechanism that allowed users to opt out of sharing their data, a process Beard says took time and innovative solutions.

Bear attributes Humboldt as a massive contributor to her success because she had the freedom to think creatively as a Cal Pol Humboldt Art student.

“I couldn't do what I do now without Humboldt because I must develop creative solutions for new technologies,” Beard says. “My experience at Humboldt gave me a new perspective and enabled me to develop creative solutions in my job.”

At Humboldt, she was a graphic designer, photographer, and illustrator. As an Art major, she spent much of her time working on projects, from conceptualization to execution. Her art became a huge time commitment. She spent hours in the studio, finishing projects after lectures. Beard credits the hands-on learning experience and her Humboldt professors for strengthening her creativity. When she thought she was done with an art piece, they pushed her and encouraged her to keep creating.

After graduating and spending a few years in different employment fields, including law and technology, she noticed few women in leadership positions. Beard wanted to change that, so she received her Master’s of Business Administration from San Francisco State University and her Executive Master’s of Business Administration from The Yale School of Business. She then moved into management roles in the tech industry.

After noticing the gap between male and female leadership and struggling to move up in the workforce herself, Beard has become passionate about uplifting, empowering, and mentoring other women.

“I'm passionate about helping other women move up, whether through an advanced degree, additional training, or having mentorship from somebody like me or another female leader,” Beard says. “In most cases, it takes women more time to get into leadership positions than men. I want to change that and lift other women in the industry.”

Photo: Rebecca Beard is on the Privacy Leadership Team at Meta, leading a team of global managers who develop privacy practices to protect users' data in the Metaverse.