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Career Notes

Author: CyberWire Inc.

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Step inside the diverse and fascinating worlds of cybersecurity professionals around the globe and hear their personal stories in their own words.

49 Episodes
CEO and co-founder of SafeGuard Cyber Jim Zufoletti shares his journey starting out as an intrepreneur and transformation into a serial entrepreneur in cybersecurity. Jim shares how he got his feet wet working for others as an intrepreneur and catching the entrepreneurial bug in the mid-90s. He has co-founded a number of companies starting with FreeMarkets, a B2B ecommerce company. After that went public and Jim moved on, he went to business school at the University of Virginia and crossed paths with his future co-founder of SafeGuard Cyber. At UVA, Jim was inspired by a professor who exposed him to the effectuation approach to entrepreneurship, Along those lines, Jim recommends those looking to start a business in cyber build their experience portfolio. Jim took what he learned to help build where he is today. His company helps protect the humans in this new digital world with the current work from home environment. And, we thank Jim for sharing his story with us.
Senior security researcher from Secureworks Marcelle Lee shares her career journey into cybersecurity and how she helps solve hard problems in her daily work. Marcelle came into cybersecurity not through any traditional path. She describes her route from a different field and starting in cyber at her local community college through a grant program. Marcelle took full advantage of the opportunities she had and grew her career from there. She recommends finding your specialty, but continue to build other skills. As a woman in the field, she is a strong proponent of diversity and encouraging others to find what excites them. And, we thank Marcelle for sharing her story with us.
CEO and Founder of Votiro Aviv Grafi shares his story from serving as a member of the IDF's intelligence forces to leading his own venture. Aviv says his service in the IDF shaped a lot of his thinking and problem solving. Following his military service, Aviv worked to gain more real world and business experience. Starting his own business as a pentester was where the seeds for what would become Votiro would form. Aviv talks about the roller coaster that you experience when starting your own venture and offers some advice. And, we thank Aviv for sharing his story with us.
Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, Engineering for Digital Guardian Debra Danielson shares her career journey. From aspirations of becoming an astronaut studying mechanical and aerospace engineering, Finding her first job at a local software company that turned into a long term commitment after it was acquired by another firm. Debra mentions that when she was heads-down programming, there were many women in the field and when she emerged from the cube to take on management and leadership positions, the ratio of women had dropped dramatically. She noted at this time that it took a lot of energy to be different. Debra shared that each time she had challenges in her career, she learned from them. She offers advice of taking risks earlier in your career as you don't know what it could lead to. And, we thank Debra for sharing her story with us.
Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Corelight Greg Bell describes the twists and turns of his career bringing him back to his childhood joy of computers. Working in a myriad of fields from human rights to Hollywood to writing a history of conspiracy belief before pivoting back to technology. Focusing on the relationships within the open source community, Greg works to change and improve the world through his mission-based organization. For those looking to begin their career in cyber, Greg offers that great mentorship and working for great organizations where you can soak in the culture are really important. And, we thank Greg for sharing his story with us.
Vice President of Raytheon's Cyber Offense, Defense Experts Teresa Shea speaks of her journey from math to adapting new technologies on the cutting edge, With a love of math, Teresa was offered a scholarship by the Society of Women Engineering and decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. Unsurprisingly, there were few other women in her program, Teresa interned with and then proceeded to work for the National Security Agency becoming their SIGINT director. Following her government career, Teresa worked to help bring new technologies to government through her work at Raytheon. We thank Teresa for sharing her story with us.
Chief Security Officer of Microsoft Canada Kevin Magee shares his background as a historian and how it applies to his work in cybersecurity. Likening himself to a dashing Indiana Jones, Kevin talks about how he sees history unfolding and the most interesting things right now are happening in security. Spending time tinkering with things in the university's computer room under the stairs gave way to Kevin's love affair with technology. As Chief Security Officer, Kevin says he uses an analogy: "I think we focus on the arrows, not the the archer" meaning there's too much focus on the attacks rather than the ones mounting them. As a historian and witness to our current history, Kevin sees the changes all affecting cybersecurity. We thank Kevin for sharing his story with us.
Coming from her love of math, VP of R&D at Arctic Wolf Networks Dinah Davis shares how she arrived in the cybersecurity industry after finding her niche. Dinah recalls how at a time of indecision, a computer course at university and a job with the Canadian government helped to solidify her career direction. Dinah mentions how "security and cryptography specifically was this perfect mix of real world problem solving and mathematics and computer science all combined into one ball of happiness." Networking played a key role in Dinah's journey. She recommends that those interested in joining the field to go for what they believe in. And, we thank Dinah for sharing her story with us.
Army Cyber Institute Technical Director and Chief of Staff Colonel Stephen Hamilton takes us on his computer science journey. Fascinated with computers since the second grade, Stephen chose West Point after high school to study computer science. Following graduation he moved into the signal branch as it most closely matched his interest in ham radio as no branch related directly to computing. He was pulled from the motor pool to help with another area's computing needs and then worked his way to teaching computer science at. West Point and US Cyber Command. Stephen recommends coding it first to help realize the nuances, and then code it again. We thank Stephen for sharing his story with us.
Head of Product for IBM Security Aarti Borkar shares her journey which included going after her lifelong love of math rather than following in her parents' footsteps in the medical field. In following her passions, Aarti found herself studying computer engineering and computer science, and upon taking a pause from her studies, she found a niche working at IBM in a mix of databases and networking. In her current position, Aarti describes her favorite discussion topics very often involve being around the use of AI for converting security into predictive domains. Aarti reminds us that you should pause and see if you are on the right path. Staying on a path just because you started there can be a bad idea. And, we thank Aarti for sharing her story.
High Performance Computing Systems Administrator at Brigham Young University Billy Wilson tells his cybersecurity career story translating language skills to technical skills. According to Billy's employer, moving to a technical position at his alma mater occurred because Billy showed this potential and a thirst for learning. He is currently pursuing his master's degree from SANS Technology Institute for Information Security Engineering while working to secure BYU's data for their computationally-intensive research. Billy notes that not everyone has one overarching passion which gives him variety in his work. And, we thank Billy for sharing his story with us.
Co-founder and socio-technical lead at Cygenta, Dr. Jessica Barker, shares her story from childhood career aspirations of becoming a farmer to her accidental pivot to working in cybersecurity. With a PhD in civic design, Jessica looked at the creation of social and civic places until she was approached by a cybersecurity consultancy interested in the human side of cybersecurity. She jumped in and the rest is history. Having experienced some negativity as a woman in cybersecurity, Jessica is a strong proponent of diversity in the field. She suggests that newcomers to the industry follow what interests them and jump in. And, we thank Jessica for sharing her story with us.
Chief strategy officer and chief security officer for Netskope, Jason Clark, shares his journey as he challenges the status quo and works to expand diversity in cybersecurity. Jason started his career by breaking the mold and heading to the Air Force rather than his family legacy of Army service. Following his military service, he became a CISO for the New York Times at age 26 and kept building from there. Jason advises, "You should always be seeking out jobs you're actually not qualified for. I think that's how you grow. If you know you could do the job, and you've got half the skills, go for it." Jason aspires to a legacy of increasing diversity in the cybersecurity industry and founded a non-profit to do just that. And, we thank Jason for sharing his story with us.
Founder and CEO of nonprofit Bits N' Bytes Cybersecurity Education and undergraduate student at Stanford University, Kyla Guru shares her journey from GenCyber Camp to becoming a cybersecurity thought leader. Seeing the need. for cybersecurity education in her own community spurred Kyla into action engaging our civilian population in understanding their role in the cybersecurity space. Kyla recommends putting yourself out there: taking courses, getting more knowledge, getting internships, meeting people and going to conferences. Kyla thinks her generation has an inquisitive mind and feels that is where advocacy and education come in with cybersecurity. She shares for any young person "thinking about maybe starting something in security, this is definitely the time to do so." And, we thank Kyla for sharing her story with us.
Program Director for Public Policy and External Affairs at the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security Ben Yelin shares his journey from political junkie to Fourth Amendment specialist. Several significant life defining political developments like the disputed 2000 election, 9/11, and the Iraqi war occurred during his formative years that shaped Ben's interest in public policy and his desire to pursue a degree in law. An opportunity to be a teaching assistant turned out to be one of those sliding door scenarios that led Ben to where he is now, a lawyer in the academic and consulting worlds specializing in cybersecurity and digital privacy issues. Through his work, Ben hopes to elevate the course of the debate on these very important issues. And, we thank Ben for sharing his story with us.
Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Cybersecurity Business Development Ann Johnson brings us on her career journey from aspiring lawyer to cybersecurity executive. After pivoting from studying law, Ann started working with computers and found she had a deep technical aptitude for technology and started earning certifications landing in cybersecurity because she found an interest in PKI. At Microsoft, Ann says she solves some of the hardest problems every day. She recommends getting a mentor and finding your area of expertise. She leaves us with three dimensions she hopes to be her legacy: 1. diversity in more than just gender, 2. bringing a human aspect to the industry, and 3. being empathetic to the user experience. We thank Ann for sharing her story with us.
Vice President of Security and Support Operations of Alert Logic Tom Gorup shares how his career path led him from tactics learned in Army infantry using machine guns and claymores to cybersecurity replacing the artillery with antivirus and firewalls. Tom built a security automation solution called the Grunt (in recollection of his role in the Army) that automated firewall blocks. He credits his experience in battle-planning for his expertise in applying strategic thinking to work in cybersecurity, noting that communication is key in both scenarios. Tom advises that those looking into a new career shouldn't shy away from failure as failure is just another opportunity to learn. We thank Tom for sharing his story with us.
Vice President of Global Systems Engineering Ellen Sundra shares her career path from life as a college grad who found her niche by creating a training program to a leader in cybersecurity. She realized that training and educating people was her passion. Ellen sees her value in providing soft skills as a natural balance to her technical team at Forescout Technologies. Being a woman in a male-dominated world proved to be a challenge and gaining her confidence to share her unique point of view helped her excel in it. Ellen recommends keeping your eyes open for how your skill set fits into cybersecurity. Find your perspective and really embrace it! We thank Ellen for sharing her story with us.
Cyber threat intelligence analyst Selena Larson takes us on her career journey from being a journalist to making the switch to industrial security. As a child who wrote a book about a green goldfish who dealt with bullying, Selena always liked investigating and researching things. Specializing in cybersecurity journalism led to the realization of how closely aligned or similar skills are required from an investigative journalist and a cyber threat intelligence analyst. Our thanks to Selena for sharing her story with us.
CEO and co-founder of Dragos Robert Lee talks about how he came to cybersecurity through industrial control systems. Growing up with parents in the Air Force, Robert's father tried to steer him away from military service. Still Rob chose to attend the Air Force Academy where he had greater exposure to computers through ICS. Robert finds his interest lies in things that impact the physical world around us. In his work, Dragos focuses on identifying what people are doing bad and helping people understand how to defend against that. Rob describes the possibility of making a jump to control system security from another area recommending you bring something to the table. Rob talks about the world he would like to leave to his son and his hopes for the future. We thank Rob for sharing his story with us.
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