Devon Bryan, an (ISC)2 member for nearly 20 years, is receiving a distinguished Federal Computer Week Federal 100 Award this year. The award recognizes 100 U.S. government and industry leaders who have played pivotal roles in the federal government IT community—individuals who have gone above and beyond their daily responsibilities and have made a difference in the way technology has transformed their agency or accelerated their agency's mission. Devon and the other winners will be honored at a gala ceremony on April 7.
Devon served in the United States Air Force as a Lead Network Engineer for 11 years. After earning his CISSP in 2000, he joined SRA International. He worked for the U.S. federal government for the Internal Revenue Service for eight years and now serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer for the Federal Reserve System. He also spent five years at ADP, giving him a unique mixture of public and private sector experience.
Devon says his blended experience and certification have shaped him as a professional and enabled his success. Attaining the CISSP has helped him by pushing him to gain knowledge that has helped him throughout his career. In fact, it has been a requirement in every job he’s had. He believes that while certification by itself doesn’t articulate a person’s understanding of the field, it is an important professional milestone. “I’m a strong proponent of folks having credentials to demonstrate that they have achieved a minimum level of professionalism,” he says. “It’s a powerful validation mechanism that provides a degree of distinction between professionals at various levels of their careers.”
Devon was selected as a Fed 100 recipient for founding and for his work with the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP). The mission for the volunteer-led organization is to serve as an advocacy group for creating a pipeline for diverse cybersecurity talent and to create career pathways for them once they’ve decided to enter the field.
Devon says, “As I talked with colleagues at RSA and other shows/meetings over the past few years, a common theme that surfaced in our conversations was not only the lack of talent in the market but lack of diverse talent. We decided that there had been enough dialogue about the problem, and it was time to DO something about it.”
The ICMCP aims to build a pipeline of diverse cybersecurity talent that will ensure that underserved populations, such as women, native Americans, Asia-Pacific Islanders, African Americans and Latinos, reach the level of cybersecurity education and proficiency they choose to pursue by creating cybersecurity opportunities from Pre-K throughout the entire work career. Specifically, the ICMCP is working to:
- Increase the number of minority students pursuing cybersecurity related disciplines at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels by funding scholarships opportunities
- Facilitate the career advancement of existing member cybersecurity practitioners through mentoring, grants towards advanced degrees and professional certifications in the field of cybersecurity
- Promote public awareness of cybersecurity and the opportunities for minorities in the profession
- Function as a representative body on issues and developments that affect the careers of minority cybersecurity professionals
- Establish a mechanism for gathering and disseminating information for minority cybersecurity professionals
“To create a true talent pipeline, we need to start really young,” says Devon. “Our future is hinged on technology. We need to change negative stereotypes and foster minorities’ interest in this field early in their educational trajectory. For example, girls who may show an interest in STEM in elementary school can be deterred by perceptions that those careers are for men only. Why not require students to take technology courses, just as they have to learn a foreign language?”
The ICMCP is hosting its inaugural conference this week in Washington, DC. Speaking about his Fed 100 Award, Devon comments, “The award is not personal. It should be attributed to everyone involved with ICMCP. It is a signal of the bright future that lies ahead of us as we drive awareness of programs that have the ability to impact the lives of so many deserving students.”
What can you do? Devon encourages, “Get off the sidelines and get involved! Sign up to mentor, donate to scholarship funds, or donate your time. An hour of your time per month can be very meaningful to an undergrad. Also, be positive support to kids as they contemplate their career decisions. My first mentoring experience was through a robotics group whose goal was to get inner city high school students interested in STEM. It was very rewarding. You really can change the lives of those you interact with and ensure the workforce of the future.”