What do you get when you cross a Marine Corps Veteran with a job search? A long and drawn-out process, filled with disappointment and frustration. Which was very much my story, until I came across the world of Cisco Cybersecurity!
Throughout my 16-year career with the military and as a Department of Defense civilian, I had worked with Cisco products without even knowing how expansive and dynamic the company was. Every Video Teleconference (VTC) was on a Cisco video system. Each of the three telephones I had were all Cisco – yes, even the red one that (theoretically) linked me straight to the President…. Just kidding…
But let’s start at the beginning of my career journey, because that’s where my Cisco story truly begins.
I was 23 when I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2007. I had been watching the news every day and truly felt like I was sitting on the side lines – when I could be helping. I enlisted as an Intelligence Specialist and off to California I went! I would soon find out that, as an Intel guy in an infantry battalion, I would be behind a machine gun much more often than behind my computer.
From 2008-2010, I was deployed to support multiple operations around the world. These deployments came with losses, hard-times, and the creation of bonds that will never be broken, I’ll never forget the leadership lessons I leaned along the way.
As I moved through my Marine Corps Career, I found myself thrown into the world of a new and continuously evolving threat on an all-new battlefield – cyberspace. In 2011, I began using my intel skills to analyze all things cyber and threats from various sources. It seemed like this new cybersecurity thing was here to stay and that it was likely only going to get worse.
I left the Marine Corps in 2016 and began working for the Defense Intelligence Agency as an Intelligence Officer. Over the next couple of years, I would study threats to the homeland, which encompassed EVERYTHING. From cyber-attacks to how dangerous groups used the internet, and to analyze and operationalize plans to thwart these groups from causing harm to others. After this work, I moved into what would likely be considered the most significant threat to US cyber-networks as the Chief Operations and Interagency Officer for my department. My team was tasked with creating innovative solutions to large cybersecurity problems within the whole of the Department of Defense. The task was as big as it sounds.
From the time I left the Marine Corps in 2016 to when I started at Cisco in 2021, I had earned my Doctoral degree in Organizational Change and Leadership with an emphasis on preparing the Department of Defense for advanced cyber-warfare. Here, I gained a true passion for tangibly stopping cyber-criminals from taking data. After I finished the degree, I started applying for positions outside of the government. I wanted to help stop cyber-criminals in a big way. In all, I applied for around 70 different jobs with 30 different companies. Although I interviewed several times, I was never their guy! Like I said earlier: it’s a long and drawn-out process.
And that’s where Cisco comes in.
As I continued my work in cyber-security for the Department of Defense while applying to other jobs, I realized how intricately intertwined large, fortune 500 companies were with the threat itself. Cyber-actors were shifting their focus toward attacks against the American institution, of which industry is a large part. So, as a good Operations Chief would do, I began searching for outside of the box solutions. And that’s where I met back up with Cisco.
A colleague of mine opened my eyes to what a whole new world of cyber-protection looks like. Not only was Cisco doing some wild and innovative things in the cyber-world – they were named the #1 World’s Best Company in 2019 and 2020 and the #1 US Best Company in 2021! WHAT?! They don’t just make phones, switches, firewalls, and VTC systems?! My mind was blown.
My buddy went on to talk about how Cisco Talos, the world’s largest private sector threat intelligence organization, was solving real world cyber-issues in real-time. And it just so happened that he went to college with someone who worked as a SecOps specialist at Cisco. A simple phone call and email introduction launched me on the road to my new career.
This is where my Cisco search began.
I applied to three positions at Cisco and got interviews scheduled within a week! This was not at all what I was used to. For the first two interviews, although the process was great, the outcome wasn’t, and I was notified that someone else was selected for these positions. But this is what makes Cisco different. A hiring manager from my first interview stayed in contact with me and got me another round of interviews for a different, but similar position.
After this round of interviews, I felt like I truly found my spot as a Cisconian. And then, I received my offer! What a ride. After probably 15 total interviews with Cisco, I landed in a place where I knew I would thrive. I finally get to stop cyber-criminals from wreaking havoc on our industry partners by offering them some of the best cyber-defense software in the world.
Cisco has been nothing short of amazing. The pace of work, the people I work with, and the culture of Cisco are easily why the company shines as a top employer to work for.
My journey from Marine, to Department of Defense cybersecurity officer, to Cisco Cybersecurity Specialist has been a long one, but I finally feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be!
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