NEWS + ADVICE
A Cyber Warrior’s Journey to Leidos
Shane Jaeger, Senior Business Development Manager, Leidos, is a 27-year Navy veteran who does a great job sharing on his LinkedIn Profile why a company would want to hire him. Here is an excerpt:
How does being a veteran line up with being successful in the world of business development and government contracting? As you might expect, I know the languages, I understand the needs, but probably the most important reason is that I “own” the problem; it is a part of who I am.
There are two skills I learned that I use on a daily basis:
1) Problem Solving. Breaking down a problem into its smallest addressable component where the solution is easier to determine, and
2) Analysis. The same skills I used to develop recommended courses of action (COAs) for my superiors in the service, I use daily to as I develop strategies for my leadership here at Leidos.”
We spent some time with Shane in his office at Leidos discussing his career, cybersecurity and his recommendations for transitioning military personnel.
Cybersecurity has become a bit of a buzzword. How would you describe cybersecurity to the uninitiated
SJ Cybersecurity can be called the information or intelligence domain but most importantly it exists in cyberspace, which is the network of networks that connect everything from your refrigerator to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission system underlying Three Mile Island. All of our information is now connected.
Cybersecurity requires changing your thought processes. We used to do computer security, information security and information assurance, all of which required specific skills to execute programs. Cybersecurity makes a realization that you have to provide a new thought process that says I am not just going to be reactive but more perceptive about actions of the user or attacker by leveraging predictive analysis.
We are all familiar with updating virus protection software on our home computers, which protects against specific attacks. In protecting our networks, we need a professional cadre of people who understand our systems capabilities and vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity professionals have to build actionable intelligence to understand on the operational wall of knowledge the difference between an attack or a system malfunction due to an overload of the system.
Why are veterans adept at cybersecurity
SJ Veterans are familiar with and can digest Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Continuing Operations (CONOPs) very well. It is how we live and breathe for the tours of duty and the entire time we spend in the service. Veterans are extremely familiar and comfortable with operations and predictive analysis. We understand the “why I am in business” concept of operations. ‘If this happens, do this’; ‘if this pattern happens, do that’. These are concepts and processes we understand because we have done it all day long on our many tours of duty.
Network operations are just as important as the security applications that are applied to networks. Understanding the load capabilities of your systems and the patterns of activity that may cause failure are just as critical as understanding how, when and where your system will be attacked.
Common sense security is something many veterans possess. Understanding where and how a system is most vulnerable. This kind of training prepares veterans to have a major role in cybersecurity because they can ramp up very quickly when exposed to any system.
The services are adept at instilling why they are in business. Go Army, Beat Navy. Go Navy, Beat Army. Good competitive nature; but in the end, they both know why they are in business. The mission is at the forefront of their mind – day in and day out.
Military veterans have the ability to look at CONOPs, and SOPs and based on this prioritize 2 or 3 courses of action and make the recommendations. Most importantly veterans have the ability to learn. We have been doing that every day of our military careers. Show us what you need done and we will ramp up very quickly doing that job.
What are your recommendations for transitioning veterans
SJ It is important for veterans to find ways to get in touch with the recruiters – through job boards like ClearedJobs.Net, social networks and referrals from someone in your network. Build and leverage your network of recruiters.
The reason I am in the job I am today is because of the transition assistance of one of the recruiters that stuck with me during my transition. Three years ago Mike Bruni was at my transition class. He was the only recruiter who said this is what I do and how I can help you. This stood out for me.
Veterans also need to be prepared for a multi-stage process in interviewing with any company. It is much more than just getting past the ‘gatekeeper’. The company may be a subcontractor, so the candidate has to be submitted to the prime contractor, and then once past there, on to meeting and getting approval from the client.
My initial transition was not into cybersecurity. I attended an Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association (AFCEA) luncheon while still in the service. I could do systems engineering work but was more excited about capture management and business development. I pitched myself to a small business on my capacity to learn. This is what every veteran can say to a potential employer ‘I have the capacity to learn new things’. I have been doing it every day for the last 20+ years. What is your problem, let me try to solve it.
What are your recommendations for veterans who are a few years out from their transition
SJ I applied several places when first looking for a job and saw several “nice to have” requirements such as CISSP or PMP but I didn’t have them. The companies wouldn’t help me get these certifications. Quickly I found that recruiters won’t return your phone calls if you don’t have enough of a percentage of the required certifications that meet the requirements.
Military personnel are focused on the mission at hand and are not necessarily looking at what they need to do to prepare themselves for supporting the next mission in their career. They may need to get additional certifications, finish their college degree, or get an advanced degree while still in the military drawing upon the many resources at hand such as the GI Bill, but this is not ingrained. Yes, this does mean doing more than “as assigned” but this should be part of any professional’s mindset: to prepare yourself for your next mission.
This also depends on mentoring by the leadership while they are on active duty. For many folks this kind of leadership is part of their life – their family, their schooling, their community – wherever they found their leadership in their life.
I spent the first part of my career doing the job I was told to do and showing up and waiting for someone to tell me what to do. The second part of my career as a junior officer and up through the ranks, I recognized that just showing up and not being prepared for the job was not professional. There is no grace period. You should know what to do from day one. You should have spent some time preparing for your new job even if it means dedicating part of your transfer leave getting up-to-speed on your new job role.
Many veterans say that they are uncomfortable looking at small companies. You didn’t have that problem. What is your recommendation?
SJ It’s a moderate risk, I get that. Military professionals will go to a big business, because they come from a big organization. It is a wise choice for some. But not many large businesses would have taken a risk on doing what I do without the experience. Veterans have great opportunities to develop key experience in smaller companies that will help them in their civilian career development.
What would you say to a veteran who is really challenged by their transition
SJ I would find every recruiter on LinkedIn within a hundred miles of me and ask them questions. Each one is going to have a different response. Send them your resume and take their feedback. If someone rings a bell in your mind and heart, get to know that recruiter and their organization more.
Don’t take your resume to one of those prepping organizations, as they don’t understand what needs to be done. The average person doesn’t need this. They need someone to read their resume, and to ask them questions. If 10 people say the same thing, such as get a certification as a PMP or CISSP, these kind of things can take the senior enlisted member into the aspects of cybersecurity that they want to go into.