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Career Notes

Author: N2K Networks

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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.

155 Episodes
Stacy Dunn, a Senior Solutions Engineer from the SANS Institute sits down and shares what it is like to work through her own adversity to get to be where she is today. Stacy shares some of her experiences as a woman with ADHD working in an IT career and explains her tips for other neurodiverse people in the field. After working in a wide array of positions in different fields, she wanted to go back to school to get her degree in management information systems and information assurance. Eventually she started working her way up the ladder, and became a very successful woman in the IT world. She shares her struggles with ADHD as she was making the climb and says "It's both a superpower and kryptonite because I think something that is a fundamental misunderstanding of most people, and maybe even some people that do have ADHD, is that it's not just the aspect of not being able to focus, it's also an aspect of focusing too much." We thank Stacy for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dawn Cappelli, OT CERT Director at Dragos, sits down to share what she has learned after her 25+ year career in the industry. She recalls wanting to have been a rockstar when she grew up, now she refers to herself as the fairy godmother of security. She shares some of the amazing things she got to work on throughout her career, including working with the Secret Service when the Olympics came to Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002. She shares how she was able to rise through the ranks to get to where she is now. Dawn talks about how she wasn't ready to retire quite yet because she loved the industry so much, saying "I retired, but I knew I still loved security. I have this passion for protection and so Dragos came along and they offered me this role of Director of OT CERT. I feel like I'm the security fairy godmother." She shares words of wisdom for all trying to get into the industry, saying that you need to always take the risk like she did when she first started her career. We thank Dawn for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Steve Benton, Vice President at Anomali Threat Research & GM Belfast, sits down to share his story as a cybersecurity expert with a surplus of strategic leadership experience across cyber and physical security rooted in substantial operational directorship and accountability. Steve shares his beginnings, where he wanted to grow up to be a rockstar, slowly moving into the world of tech with his first ever computer and falling in love with it. After graduating from Queens University with a degree in information technology, he joined British Telecommunications or BT, where he got to put his new found skills to use. Steve mentions how his job is kind of like being a DJ almost and says " a typical day for me is looking at the intelligence that we're bringing in, mixing it as it were to think of a slight, like DJs with a set of headphones on creating the right kind of mixes of intelligence for our clients." We thank Steve for sharing his story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Shelley Ma, Incident Response Lead at Coalition sits down to share her story, starting all the way back when she was a kid and fell in love with playing the game "Neopets" that ended up paving the way for her future in cybersecurity. After starting this journey, she shares how she became intrigued with crime and mystery shows, which ultimately spawned an interest in forensic science. She ended up signing up for an internship program that she was able to get into, which she says was a pivotal change for her that provided her the chance to begin her career. She shares the advice that if anyone is looking to get into this career, she highly recommends looking into the career before beginning. Following some advise given to her by a professor and mentor, she says that telling the truth helps her deal with adversity in the workplace. Shelley says "In our industry, there are so many opportunities for our opinions and testimonies to be coerced and swayed. I refuse to do that and every time I come back to what my professor said, if you don't want to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulders, just simply tell the truth." We thank Shelley for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Perry Carpenter, Chief Evangelist and Strategy Officer at KnowBe4 and host of the 8th Layer Insights podcast, sits down to share his story trying different paths, before ultimately switching over to the cyber industry. After trying to go down the paths of music and law and finding neither were what he wanted to do, he decided to take an internship to get more into computer programming. That led him to getting his first job. After his first job, he moved onto other big name companies like Walmart, Alltel, and Gartner, and landing finally with KnowBe4. He compares his work to working with music, when he initially wanted to begin making music early in his career. He says "I think for me, when it was the kind of the connection between music and computing is that whenever you're kind of joining things together or at a, a musical scale to make chords, or whenever you're adding different, um, instruments and octaves together or timbers together to get some kind of bigger result." We thank Perry for sharing his story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Maria Varmazis, N2K's Space Correspondent and host of N2K's newest podcast T-Minus, sits down to share her journey on combining her two passions of space and cyber. Maria grew up wanting to be an astronomer, in school she focused on joining anything with technology and enjoyed the classes that made her think. After transferring to a new college, she went into journalism, absolutely falling in love with the new career path she had made for herself. She got herself a job at Sophos and that's where she learned about cybersecurity. Now she discusses cyber and space in her new podcast, combining her two passions into one for all to understand. Maria discusses some of the setbacks she overcame in this industry and shares the wise advice of "I would never pretend that failure isn't painful, but it is an incredible teaching tool. So if you feel like you've had a huge career fail or a really big misstep, you can still pivot from that and you can make that into something." We thank Maria for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jack Chapman, VP of Threat Intelligence at Egress sits down to share his story on how he found his way into the cybersecurity field as well as his journey creating a cybersecurity company that was successfully acquired. Jack previously co-founded anti-phishing company Aquilai and served as its Chief Technology Officer, working closely with the UK’s intelligence and cyber agency GCHQ to develop cutting-edge product capabilities. Aquilai was acquired by Egress in 2021. Now he is working with Egress as what he calls their "chief bad guy," helping to shield his team from threats. He says "I'm probably what you call a servant leader, my mission is to enable and shield my teams from things that will prevent them from succeeding in their missions, whatever that might look like." Jack hopes to be remembered for making a meaningful impact to help drive the field forward. We thank Jack for sharing his story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Karen Worstell, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist from VMware, sits down to share her journey and discuss her experience as a woman in cyber. Starting her career off as a chemist, she graduated with bachelor's degrees in chemistry and molecular biology. She then took some time off to be with her family and came back to a science field that was far more advanced than before she had left. She decided to go in another direction, which led her to cyber. She started teaching herself programming and found she was very good at it. Now that she works in cyber, she says "You, you have to know yourself, know what you want, and know where you're, know where you plant your feet. I used to use a phrase a lot that said, uh, don't be afraid to take a stand but know where your feet are planted." We thank Karen for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Alon Jackson, chief executive and Co-founder of Astrix Security, sits down to share his story to rising success. Before being on the vendor side of things, Jackson served in various strategic roles in the Cyber Security Division of the Israeli Military Intel Unit 8200 for more than 8 years, including leading the Cloud Security division and serving as the Head of the Cyber Security R&D Department. His experience in the military inspired him to learn more about the industry and jump to the private sector. Fast forward years later, he co-founded his company to help address security gaps seen in the industry. He mentions how being a start up CEO can be difficult sometimes, and how it may feel as though you're an octopus with all the multitasking that comes with the job. Alon says that one of his main goals as a contributor in this industry is making sure people remember him and his company for years to come, saying he wants to help by " building a company that people kind of know about, remember, and is important in the world." We thank Alon for sharing his story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tanya Janca, CEO and Founder of We Hack Purple, sits down to talk about her exciting path into the field of cybersecurity. Trying several different paths in high school, she soon found she was good at computer science. When it came to picking a college, she knew that was the field she wanted to get into. After college, she was able to use her skills to work at a couple of different organizations, eventually getting into the Canadian government. While there, she held the position of CISO for the Canadian election in 2015 when Justin Trudeau was elected, but she knew she wanted to try something new. She switched from programming to security and after working at Microsoft as a presenter, she eventually found that she wanted to start her own company, saying "at first it was just me presenting, but now we have community members present to each other and it's just been really beautiful to see that grow." She hopes that with her and her community's help, nobody is left feeling unsafe when it comes to being online. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Kathleen Smith, CMO from ClearedJobs.Net, sits down to share her story as she remembers having big shoes to fill in her childhood. She strived for greatness at an early age, as her parents told her she would be going to college and would follow strong guidelines to become successful. Kathleen can remember being into the hard sciences when she was in school, which sparked an interest in becoming a biochemist and law student. Eventually she found her passion as a translator, saying that "doing the translator role, I wanted to get into international marketing and I was going on to get my degree on that." She found her way to ClearedJobs.Net and fell in love with it. She had sought to find a workplace that wouldn't burn her out, where she can also be a part of the team. Kathleen found what she was passionate about and made it a reality for herself, and now she just wants young women starting in the field to know the importance of finding something they are passionate about. We thank Kathleen for sharing her story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Bat El Azerad, CEO and Co-founder of mobile phishing protection company novoShield, shares her personal account of her experience as a female leader in the cybersecurity field as well as some insights into how far the industry has come and where it is headed in terms of the gender gap. Bat El speaks about how she grew into her role of becoming a CEO, by sharing where she started and how she got involved with novoShield. She share's that being a woman in this industry can be tough and so she shares some advice, saying "so you have to be very focused and to find the right niche to bring something to the table because the competition in this industry and the level of innovation, um, is, is great." Bat El hopes that throughout her time in the industry she hopes people remember her for her vision, and the mission she is helping to create and maintain at her company. We thank Bat El for sharing her story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Gabriela Smith-Sherman, Director of the Governance Risk and Compliance Department at MindPoint Group, sits down to share her journey. A former federal agency CISO with over 15 years of experience in leading and implementing comprehensive enterprise cybersecurity programs and initiatives, she is also a disabled US combat veteran who understands the importance of mission and is dedicated to delivering high-quality results and value to customers through innovative solutions. Gabriela shares about her time in the military and how being part of the service was one of her best decisions, dedicating all her hard work to her time in the armed forces. She also explains how it was tough falling away from military routine, and the difficulties behind her transition to civilian, but notes that she thrives in the chaos of the IT world, saying "I think my military experience has prepared me, uh, to be in those kind of chaotic positions and be very calm about the approach." We thank Gabriela for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mike Fey, CEO and co-founder of, joins to share his story, falling in love with technology and being fascinated by it at a young age. Mike quickly started working for companies where he grew in his role, becoming CTO of McAfee and then GM of the Enterprise business, stepping out to then become president and COO of Blue Coat, which was eventually acquired by Symantec, eventually wanting to get into his own business. He shares that being a small business owner is a lot of hard work and very tiring at times, he says "especially in a startup, the highs are very high and the lows are very low." Mike also mentions how easy it is to get knocked down when being in charge of your own business, but that teamwork is what helps to bring him back up. Mike says he wants to eventually help change the world and hopefully his legacy will help him to do that some day. We thank Mike for sharing his story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Rachel Tobac, CEO from SocialProof Security sits down to share her amazing story on becoming what's known in the industry as an ethical hacker and CEO of a company. Rachel shares how she was always fascinated with spy movies and as she grew older that fascination turned into a real desire. Finding out she liked learning how the human brain works, she decided to start off in neuroscience. Wanting a change and with the help of her husband she was able to start getting more into hacking, finding she loved the fact that she was pretending to be someone to hack into a company and finding the weak spots. She shares how as a leader now she likes to be authentic with her team. She says "I think in the security world sometimes we take ourselves pretty seriously and a lot of times it's because we're dealing with really serious topics, and so in the moment we have to be extremely serious, but when you get a five minute break in between your crisis meetings, find a way to laugh if you can." We thank Rachel for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jaden Dicks, a new intern at CyberVista, a company that merged with CyberWire to become N2K Networks, shares his story as a young man growing up trying to get into the cyber community. From a very young age, Jaden hoped to become part of the cybersecurity field, He recalls growing up constantly being surrounded by technology, and now with the help of Urban Alliance, Jaden was able to secure this internship with CyberVista. Urban Alliance is a nonprofit that connects young adults with paid work experiences, such as internships to help them bridge the gaps between education and the workforce. Jaden hopes that this internship will help him further advance his career and help him to pursue his goals of working in cyber. He also shares advice to younger people like him who are looking to branch out and start working toward your goals, even as a teenager, and what has helped him to find his rhythm. We thank Jaden for sharing his story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Yasmin Abdi, a Security Engineering Manager at Snapchat and the CEO and Founder of NoHack, sits down to share her story on how she got to be in her amazing current roles. From a young age, Yasmin was fascinated by the overlap of cybersecurity and crime and law. In her time in college, she was able to intern at big tech companies like Snapchat, Google, and Facebook. She decided to stick with Snapchat, which had the security aspect and security composure that she wanted. In her role at Snapchat, she gets to work with her team to help take down all kinds of bad content and keep up the platform’s integrity, and found she fell in love with the work along the way. Yasmin shares the sage advice to grow your community as much as you can, saying to"form a community of like-minded people. People that you can bounce ideas off of, people that can help support you when times are low. Find mentors, find people that you aspire to be like, and really find that community of people." We thank Yasmin for sharing her story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Our guest, Charlie Moore, is a recently retired USAF Lieutenant General who sits down to share his story from flying high in the air to becoming a bigwig in the cyber community. He was most recently the Deputy Commander of the United States Cyber Command, and also spent part of his career as a human factors engineer working on human interfaces for fighter aircraft. When he first began his Air Force career, he was a member of the last class entering into the Academy that was not issued desktop computers. Charlie discusses how this changed as the year went on and how that impacted his career both in and out of the military. Charlie worked for different companies over the years to further his career and his goals, and discusses how his flying career has helped him and says, "I was extremely passionate about the flying aspect of my career for 25 years and I became even more passionate about operating in this space." We thank Charlie for sharing his story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Miriam Wugmeister, co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Privacy and Data Security practice, sits down to share her in-depth experience and understanding of privacy and data security laws, obligations, and practices across a wide range of industries. She talks about how she grew up not knowing exactly what she wanted to get into as a profession, starting off as a chemical engineering major in college before switching to philosophy. She then got asked to work on a project relating to a company’s privacy and fell in love with the subject matter, deciding then to pursue it as a career. Miriam mentions how technology is not as complicated as tech people might have you think. She hopes she can advertise a tech degree for young women and men looking to get into the field, as well as making sure she "encourages women and diverse lawyers to, uh, come into this area to thrive." We thank Miriam for sharing her story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Gene Fay, CEO of ThreatX sits down to share his experience rising through the ranks to get to where he is today. He shares how even at a young age he wanted to work in an office and become a businessman, though at the time he did not understand what that entailed. After college he acquired a job that was revolutionizing video editing for post-production studios as well as TV stations, where he started to really learn about technology. Gene talks about leading from the front and how a good leader will always do so, even if he has to lead from two different fronts. He said "it's kind of the two fronts, sometimes you've gotta put on the leadership face, and believe it, that, that you can get, and we can get through any situation, cuz sometimes you're, your gut feelings are, might be wrong and, or it's a moment in time and if you can help the team grind through that situation, it does get better." We thank Gene for sharing his story with us. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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