Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

10/31/2017
02:30 PM
Lysa Myers
Lysa Myers
Commentary
Connect Directly
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

Who Says Brilliant Security Engineers Can't Be Amazing People Managers?

Don't let midcareer stagnation be an exit ramp from the cybersecurity industry. Use it as an opportunity to explore and to deepen your enthusiasm.

Many of us, for most of our lives, have heard about the necessity of "climbing the ladder of success." When you reach a certain age, the expectation is that you naturally will have progressed into middle or upper management. In the security industry, I've seen quite a few incredibly talented and passionate individuals burn out or leave their jobs due to the lack of a clear, authentic path for career progression. Even for those of us who have remained, there can be a lingering sense of confusion or a lack of motivation if we are uncertain about the road ahead as we achieve a certain level of seniority.

This is a fairly new industry, which means there are fewer identifiable "next steps" as far as careers go. Many of us seem to fly by the seat of our pants and take whatever position that sounds appealing rather than be directed by specific goals. And when that no longer works, some feel it necessary to get out of the industry entirely.

Another complication is that the sorts of job transitions into management that might be sensible in other industries are less applicable in tech and information security. The skills needed to configure a corporate network or code a complex widget are significantly different from getting a group of unpredictable hominoids to do your bidding. As a result, it becomes perfectly acceptable (and often more efficient) to hire people into management positions who are less technically savvy but better at motivating a group of technical subject-matter experts.

That's not to say that brilliant engineers can't be amazing people-managers. These skill sets can and often do overlap. Plus, there are ways to improve your management skills, if this is something you want to pursue. On the other hand, if you find you've achieved your "highest level of incompetence" in management, it does not have to be a career-limiting maneuver if you decide to go back to a technical trajectory.

Considering the Options
There is usually a short list of things people are after when they think about "climbing the corporate ladder": money, intellectual enrichment, and respect. While joining the C-suite is certainly one way to achieve that, it's not the only way. Here are a few suggestions to help you find a career path in line with your abilities and interests:

Focus on technology. Many higher-level positions revolve around technology management rather than people. Think of these as architect-type positions where you plan or design research and development projects rather than direct the people implementing them. These are often higher-paying positions, if more money is your objective.

If this is too far removed from the nitty-gritty, consider two alternative directions. The first is to explore laterally: are there projects or subjects you'd be interested in investigating? Sometimes a departmental "exchange program" can be an interesting change of pace. The second is to specialize: Can you get a much more in-depth knowledge of your area of interest? Specialist roles may also allow you to command a higher salary. While this choice carries some risk — all areas of specialization eventually will go extinct — if you're willing to move laterally, it need not be a dead end.

Find inspiration. Sponsorship and mentorship are great ways to get ahead once you've decided on a pathway, as is having a peer who is on a similar career expansion journey. Having someone who can amplify your voice as well as your insight can make your own trek seem less overwhelming. And don't be deterred by the people who express concern about their ability to attract mentors and sponsors when they don't get the reflected glory of having a protégé climbing the ranks. It's certainly possible to find people who are intrinsically motivated to offer assistance. But performing well at a high-profile project can also offer extrinsic motivation.

Inspire others. It's also very possible to act as a leader without having official management responsibilities. "Thought leadership" can raise the profile of individuals and their organizations by giving others the benefit of expert experience. Team leaders can raise the skill level of a single mentee, a group, or a whole organization. And, as with mentorship and sponsorship, this type of leadership can provide both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

With an ever-growing skills gap, we can scarcely afford to lose any talent, much less people with significant experience. Don't let career stagnation be an exit ramp. Use it as an opportunity to explore and to deepen your enthusiasm.

Related Content:

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.

Lysa Myers began her tenure in malware research labs in the weeks before the Melissa virus outbreak in 1999. She has watched both the malware landscape and the security technologies used to prevent threats from growing and changing dramatically. Because keeping up with all ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 5/28/2020
The Problem with Artificial Intelligence in Security
Dr. Leila Powell, Lead Security Data Scientist, Panaseer,  5/26/2020
10 iOS Security Tips to Lock Down Your iPhone
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  5/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-13693
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
An unauthenticated privilege-escalation issue exists in the bbPress plugin before 2.6.5 for WordPress when New User Registration is enabled.
CVE-2020-13173
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-28
Initialization of the pcoip_credential_provider in Teradici PCoIP Standard Agent for Windows and PCoIP Graphics Agent for Windows versions 19.11.1 and earlier creates an insecure named pipe, which allows an attacker to intercept sensitive information or possibly elevate privileges via pre-installing...
CVE-2019-6342
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-28
An access bypass vulnerability exists when the experimental Workspaces module in Drupal 8 core is enabled. This can be mitigated by disabling the Workspaces module. It does not affect any release other than Drupal 8.7.4.
CVE-2020-11082
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-28
In Kaminari before 1.2.1, there is a vulnerability that would allow an attacker to inject arbitrary code into pages with pagination links. This has been fixed in 1.2.1.
CVE-2020-5357
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-28
Dell Dock Firmware Update Utilities for Dell Client Consumer and Commercial docking stations contain an Arbitrary File Overwrite vulnerability. The vulnerability is limited to the Dell Dock Firmware Update Utilities during the time window while being executed by an administrator. During this time wi...