12 November 2021
What was your big career break?
My official cybersecurity career started when I was working in a product support role at WatchGuard. A co-worker and the manager of a threat research team spotted that I had some security expertise and a passion for it, which I shared with customers as security advice beyond their core problem. He invited me to be one of the security and technical experts on our booth at the RSA Conference. Little did I know, this was a test to see if I could become a network security analyst and join his team. I passed and set out on the path to my career in cybersecurity and current role as CSO for WatchGuard.
Who was your hero when you were growing up?
Bill Gates. I grew up when personal computers were very new and rather than saving to buy a car, like most teens, I got a job at 14 to buy my first personal 8086 machine. Gates seemed like a young upstart geek just like me, who loved computing and dropped out of college to pursue his passion and build a computer and software business.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Listen more than you speak. I still struggle to heed this advice, as I’m a ‘talker’ but there is so much value to listening. You learn more and it allows you to act on realities and not assumptions. As someone who strives to help develop the next generation of security pros, listening helps inspire trust, belonging and respect. Finally, I crave diversity of thought to make good decisions, which means you have to do a lot of listening.
What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked?
“Come on, tell me the truth. Are security companies making the malware to improve business?” While most people who ask this are just kidding, I’ve had a few who take it seriously. It’s an absurd conspiracy concept of course. Few things make me as upset as criminals who use technology to steal or harm. Like most security professionals, I am obsessed with protecting tech.
What would you do with £1m?
I’m pretty boring, so I would invest a large portion. I like the idea of getting your money to work for you. That said, I might use some of it to start a ‘side-hustle’ business. While I’m passionate about InfoSec, I’m also really into virtual reality (VR) and first-person drone piloting, both racing and freestyle acrobatic. I would love to start a business around these technologies as they have great growth potential.
If you could live anywhere, where would you choose?
I’m a traveller and love to visit other countries, which makes it hard to pick one place to live. That said, I love beaches and sun, but don’t like it too hot or humid. So, a place like Alicante, Spain seems ideal. I love Spain and Europe in general. That said, I truly love where I am right now. If only I could double the number of annual sunny days here in Seattle.
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
What a hard question! Thank goodness we live in a world where we can enjoy and love both bands. My soul leans towards rock, but in this case, I must choose The Beatles. The Beatles had more albums that just hit the mark and Lennon and McCartney wrote music that had a positive impact on society and spoke to me.
If you had to work in a different industry, which one would you choose?
Virtual Reality (VR) Gaming. I’ve always wanted to work in some medium that can stir emotion and reflection in people. Good storytelling is a very important part of our society, to learn and grow, and goes well beyond mere entertainment. It helps us to grapple with philosophy, society and life. I love books and films, but many don’t realise the huge storytelling power of gaming, where interaction makes it even more impactful. When you add VR, storytelling becomes even more immersive and offers you the opportunity to stand physically in someone else’s shoes, greatly increasing its ability to move humans and help us empathise. VR or AR entertainment seems like a very satisfying area to work, as I’d enjoy dealing with breaking new technology while also leading a new storytelling medium.
What’s the one thing you must do before it’s too late?
I’d like to make a positive difference in more peoples’ lives. There’s lots of things I selfishly want to accomplish and do. Getting a pilot’s license and flying solo is one of them. That said, when I think of the things that have really made me feel satisfied, it’s when I have had a positive impact on someone else; whether it’s my family, friends, colleagues or strangers. Those are the things that make a bigger impact than sky diving solo or climbing Machu Picchu. That said, flying my wife to some fancy lunch in the state next door and returning home the same day would be pretty cool.