Name: Uzoma Nwankwo
Title: Information Systems Security Officer
Employer: Booz Allen Hamilton
Location: National Business Park, Maryland, U.S.A.
Education: MBA, BS in Computer Information Systems
Years in IT: 12
Years in cybersecurity: 7
Cybersecurity certifications: CISSP, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Comptia Security +, Project Management Professional (PMP)
How did you decide upon a career in cybersecurity?
I began my career as a systems administrator, supporting a project for a large government agency. When that project ended, I was presented with an opportunity to help another government agency with cybersecurity services in locations throughout the country. I travelled, met new people and learned a lot along the way. I also honed my analytical skills while developing an interest in the field. That was my official introduction to cybersecurity and I have been captivated by it ever since.
Why did you get your CISSP®?
After a few years working in cybersecurity, I began to crave a new challenge. I was looking for something that would take me to the next level. I had heard impressive things about the CISSP, particularly how challenging the exam was and how difficult the certification was to obtain. I love challenges, so I knew this was exactly what I needed to catapult my career. I also knew that it would provide job security and, most importantly, help my firm become more competitive.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day involves attending or leading status meetings in the morning, preparing briefs and working on packages for systems that need Authority to Operate (ATO). Depending on the time of year, I also lead Continutiy of Operations Plan (COOP) and network operations readiness assessment efforts. Every day is different, though, which is why I love my job!
Can you tell us about a personal career highlight?
One of my most memorable moments was when I helped a client get a package for a critical system approved just in time for it to be fielded. We faced many obstacles in getting the system through, and at some points, it did not seem like we would get things completed in time. As I mentioned, I love challenges, so the long weekdays and weekends working on scans, patching, and other tasks with the systems administration team was extremely rewarding, as we were able to get everything approved in time.
How has the CISSP certification helped you in your career?
It was a great learning experience and has given me a different perspective in the processes I employ when doing my job. Short answer, it has helped me do my job efficiently.
What is the most useful advice you have for other cybersecurity professionals?
We all have to do our part to keep our systems and country safe. Malicious hackers are constantly looking for a way into secured systems, so we must all do our part to make sure they don’t succeed. We must all take our jobs seriously and make sure we understand the consequences if we fail to do so. We must also do our part to help guide the younger cybersecurity professionals as they are the key to keeping our country and clients safe. Some advice to all those considering entering the cybersecurity arena: accept the challenges, learn as much as you can and have fun doing it!
Interested in becoming a CISSP? Find out how to certify.