I got into cyber – After 18-20 years in IT, navigating diverse roles in system engineering and solution architecture. In 2012, I faced an audit challenge for a federal client where the auditors struggled with understanding secure encrypted communication, hindering the closure of secured findings that were reported as unsecured. Realizing the gap between technical and audit/compliance teams, I entered the cyber domain as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to translate security/compliance requirements, ensuring secure applications for customers. In my current role, I wear multiple hats as an InterSec, Inc. CISO and lead our Public Sector accounts.

For me, a positive cyber mindset is – fostering a culture that educates people early on about the importance of cybersecurity. Instilling lasting good cyber hygiene through coaching and mentoring ensures sustainability for future generations.

The skills that helped me transition to a career in cyber are – my strong technical and process skills. I leveraged skills with discipline to focus on problem resolution, eliminating noise, and implementing corrective actions to bridge process gaps and prevent recurring issues.

The skills that set me up for success include systems architecture, design, and engineering of complex systems. Additionally, my proficiency in project and program management, and enhanced operational efficiencies helped continuous improvements for customers.

My top tip to those interested in transitioning to a career in cybersecurity is – to step out of your comfort zone. Cybersecurity is no more complex than fields like cardiology and neuroscience, where lives are at stake. It involves understanding and defending the systems we, as humans, have built. Finding a passionate coach and mentor dedicated to building the next-generation workforce is crucial. It’s not about being hardworking or exceptionally smart but having the instinct to push beyond your comfort zone.

I would tell my younger self to begin by reading books on people and psychology to leverage technology as a value enabler for businesses.

The biggest influencer in my career is myself. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone with a curiosity to learn a lot — a trait I failed to embrace in school.

My recommended read The McKinsey Mind (by Ethan Rasiel, Paul N. Friga) and The Definitive Drucker (by Elizabeth Haas Edersheim)