"It is easier to get forgiveness than permission."
I got into cyber through arguably a precursor to cyber which was Accounting Information Systems (AIS), a field that focused on understanding internal corporate networks and associated potential risks to business data. I started out working in AIS before the graphical interface of the internet (aka the world wide web) turned everyone’s data sharing networks into supply chains of both opportunity and risk. I had enough coding, data flow analysis and network design experience to understand the implications of the WWW early on. I was a professor at the time and volunteered to teach web development courses initially and then cyber security classes as viruses, worms, DDOS, etc. started to emerge. As the attacks grew in sophistication, I just kept teaching myself what I could and taking courses where I needed help filling gaps. I have always thrived on figuring stuff out so that I could help others understand things as well. I just do it as a consultant instead of a professor now.
I would tell my younger self stop feeling like you must fix everything for everyone around you. When you are in uncomfortable situations and people are unkind or even just indifferent, it is just a signal from the universe that the situation is not a match for you. Keep looking for situations where you feel calm and open because those places give you the space to keep going toward the things that you want rather than requiring energy to push against things you don’t want.
The skill that most set me up for successwas an affinity for math and logic. I took 11 extra hours of calculus in college just because it was fun for me, and I believe it really helped me develop above average problem-solving skills.
The experience that set me up for success was joining the band in 4th grade because my band director was a lifelong mentor who enriched my life immeasurably.
The qualification that set me up for success was obtaining my PhD just because it seems to open doors even though the only thing it really means is that I am stubborn enough to power through a bunch of homework
My true calling is building programs that bring different aspects of businesses or communities together in new ways.