Name: Albert Torres
Title: Cyber Security Project Manager
Employer: Sempra Energy Utilities – contractor
Location: San Diego, California, U.S.A.
Education: M.S. in Information Security and Assurance from Western Governors University, B.A. in Management Information Systems (Summa Cum Laude) from Washington State University
Years in IT: 26
Years in cybersecurity: 16
Cybersecurity certifications: CISSP, PMP, CEH, CHFI, ITIL v3 Foundation IT Management Certification
How did you decide upon a career in cybersecurity?
I had been in the IT industry for over 10 years and our company was creating its first software as a service (SaaS) software offering. The previous software we had developed was only used in house. During the project, I discovered the infinite cybersecurity risks that we previously had not encountered. I learned about SQL injections, firewall hardening, network segmentation, vulnerability testing, penetration testing, network monitoring, hardening server configurations, monitoring security logs, disaster recovery, business continuity and defense in depth. I realized that I enjoyed it and that I would need more education and more cybersecurity experience.
Why did you get your CISSP®?
I liked the idea behind professional certifications, because potential employers know that you have met a level of professional proficiency tested by a trusted outside third-party. The CISSP is the gold standard and this way, when we are interviewing, the process can focus on if we are the right fit for each other and not a cybersecurity test devised by an in-house employee. We can take a test once, rather than during every interview. The interview process can be a lengthy one, but certifications should help get to the other meaningful questions.
What is a typical day like for you?
We have lots of cybersecurity projects worth millions of dollars, and I spend a lot of time evaluating new solutions and new technologies. I work with several cross functional teams and multiple vendors. I enjoy the business aspect of cybersecurity, not just the nuts and bolts. At the end of the day, we need to solve a business problem that just happens to incorporate cybersecurity. I feel privileged to have an opportunity to work on projects that will make an impact on the lives of our customers.
Can you tell us about a personal career highlight?
I was really excited to work for Mission Support Alliance and lead the training and ongoing education efforts of the cybersecurity team. I was responsible for the program budget, as the cybersecurity program manager, and worked with my manager and each team member to develop a training program that included master’s degrees and professional certifications. My manager was very passionate about ongoing education, and the team members shared their experiences to motivate each other. We were encouraged to explore areas that were difficult, but very rewarding in cybersecurity.
How has the CISSP certification helped you in your career?
The CISSP has helped me reach a better, deeper and broader understanding of the management of cybersecurity projects. It has given me more visibility to recruiters and opened more doors to greater possibilities in my career. The CISSP lets everyone know that I have taken cybersecurity seriously and that I am not afraid to show it by submitting myself to a trusted industry standardized test. The certification has given me more courage to explore possibilities that I once thought were out of my reach.
What is the most useful advice you have for other cybersecurity professionals?
Don’t let fear stand in your way. I once heard it said that “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” The thought of a six-hour cybersecurity test can be overwhelming, but once you have passed the CISSP, it’s exhilarating. You feel like your own version of Rocky – sure, you were on the ropes several times after some tough questions, dazed and confused, and maybe even felt like quitting. But you outlasted the test and you were victorious. Now you can do your happy dance and apply for CISSP certification.
Interested in becoming a CISSP? Find out how to certify.