Chuck Brooks_Thumbnail

I got into cyber – My journey into the cyber world was an early one. I handled security issues when I worked for the late Senator Arlen Specter on The Hill and the transition to our digital world was just beginning. Later I joined the Department of Homeland Security shortly after its founding. I was assigned to the Science & Technology Directorate as the first Director of Legislative Affairs to work with all the subject matter experts to work on the CBRNE missions. A topic not highlighted but certainly within the mandate was the protection against digital threats; cybersecurity. This spawned my interest and since then through a variety of executive roles in the corporate world (Xerox, Rapiscan, General Dynamics), I have become more and more involved in digital policy and security operations. So much in fact that I now teach cybersecurity risk management at Georgetown University and have written two books and published over 300 articles on cyber-related topics.

What did you enjoy most about being a part of UWIC? – The people! UWIC is made up of those who want to contribute to the cyber dialogue and make a difference both in industry and government. It is also a collection of great minds and catalyzes to promote women in cybersecurity, which is sorely needed. It is very meaningful for me to be an advisor to this organization and cause!

What is your favorite part about UWIC? – The events. They are always top-notch, and the networking is exceptional because of the caliber of the people who participate. For anyone interested in cybersecurity, attending UWIC events and webinars is a good way to become more informed on cyber subjects.

The skills that helped me transition to a career in cyber were A security mindset plus experience. I had dabbled in law enforcement as an auxiliary policeman in Arlington for a few years, and my educational background, particularly from the University of Chicago, included a blend of national security studies. Cybersecurity is security and risk management so being organized, analytical, and interested in the topics makes for successful skill sets.

My top tip to those interested in transitioning to a career in cybersecurity is – Do not assume that everything in cybersecurity is technical. It is good to know how to code and understand frameworks but that is just a part of the profession. Cybersecurity is really about strategies and how to optimize people, processes, and technologies. Therefore, well-rounded people tend to excel in an area that includes management, operations, marketing, and sales of cybersecurity products and services. For me educating and evangelizing the need for cyber-awareness is integral to making goals of cybersecurity possible.

The biggest influence in my career was – When I first came to Washington, DC I had just finished graduate school and like most others, I was uncertain what my career future would hold. I began going to events in my areas of interest, national security, and foreign affairs to build relationships that might guide me. Fortunately, at one gathering, I was introduced to a soon-to-be mentor, the late General Daniel O. Graham. General Graham was a decorated war veteran and was the former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He was connected and a brilliant man. I engulfed myself in learning all I could about his special High Frontier project of creating a Strategic Defense Initiative. As soon as I was able, I volunteered to write several articles for him that were published. He appreciatively took me under his wing and introduced me to the next step in my career and my first job in government, working at The Voice of America.

What I thought I wanted to be when I grew up – An exobiologist or an astronomer. I have always had a fascination with the search for extraterrestrial life. I interned for the late Astronomer Dr. Alen Hynek at Northwestern University when I was in High School. He was part of the famous USAF Project Blue Book. I Have written in FORBES on the subject and will be on TV discussing the topic later this year.

A favorite place of mine is – Savannah Georgia. I love visiting there. Very friendly people, great Southern food, amazing architecture, and a unique history. Recommend you eat dinner at the Pink House if you happen to venture there. It is an experience.

My inspiration – My family! Also, we have an American Eskimo dog that was rescued from being a meal at a market in China. He is incredible in his resilience, and kindness, despite what he went through, and is a great companion.

Something few people know about me is – I was a competitive powerlifter for many years and won several meets in my age and weight class in Virginia, DC, and Illinois. Weightlifting is now just for health for me, but I live by the adage of a strong mind and, a strong body. I am also an avid foodie. I run a group on LinkedIn called DC Foodies.