Developing Cybersecurity Specialists for the Long Haul: Rhonda Dyer of SAIC

January 10th, 2018 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in CyberCapital

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By Renee Brown Small, CEO, Cyber Human Capital, and Contributing Editor, Blog

“We certainly have the responsibility to bring talented, qualified, experienced personnel to our clients. We have a responsibility to our employees to grow them into that type of capability.” – Rhonda Dyer, ‎Vice President Strategy, Sales Support & Solutions, SAIC, on the need to develop cybersecurity experts

Dyer v1Cybercrime may be on the rise, but training the people necessary to combat it is rocky at present. Cybersecurity is still not a priority in most college curricula, and addressing the issue of providing would-be cybersecurity professionals the right kind of education is something that Rhonda Dyer is presently working on.

Rhonda got her break into cybersecurity around ten years ago, when she was offered an opportunity to support cyber and develop the business from a capture sales perspective. She is passionate about ensuring that all that she delivers to her clients is secure and that her clients know as much as they can about how to protect themselves and their machines from cyber attacks. Rhonda defines her job as one to ensure that her clients have a secure way to get their job done and also points out that security has to be top-of-mind at all times.

Rhonda is presently working at SAIC, and at the moment, the company is moving into three areas of cybersecurity. The first is in the realm of cyberspace operations, where SAIC works on supporting the entire cycle of planning, operations and targeting, and in this realm SAIC has won a contract with the U.S. Cyber Command. The second area is in defense technology, particularly in perimeter security, and this is an area that SAIC will be rolling out soon. The third area, that she is really passionate about, is in education. In this realm SAIC is providing opportunities for high school students to learn about cybersecurity. She also notes that, while only ten percent of the overall cyber workforce is female, the operations programs presently active in SAIC are run by women. She says, “I encourage everybody to make sure their children, especially their daughters, are engaged in STEM education and coding. Also, recognize that the cyber field is broad. You could be doing legal in cyber, policy in cyber. Even if you don’t have a technical bench and you don’t want to be a cyber engineer, there’s a role for you to play during these national assets.”

Rhonda shares that her clients are looking for people who could be up and working the day they start, which means experienced cybersecurity professionals. These cybersecurity professionals don’t necessarily have to know about all the different aspects of a company when they start out, as Rhonda remarks that SAIC can provide training to cover those aspects. That said, she notes that people who have a background in operations are in demand, and as SAIC is involved with the US military, it isn’t surprising that a sizeable number of their hires are veterans who have backgrounds in network handling or in physical security. Rhonda also notes that she also looks for people who have been cleared, security-wise, and who are certified and have been working in mission-critical environments.

Rhonda remarks that SAIC strives to be a career destination, and notes that those who choose to work for SAIC will be able to get training and keep their certifications up to date. She also notes that SAIC is striving for diversity in its talent, as different perspectives are critical in cybersecurity.

Renee Brown Small is the author of Magnetic Hiring: Your Company’s Secret Weapon to Attracting Top Cyber Security Talent and CEO of Cyber Human Capital, an HR consultancy that specializes in innovative ways companies hire and keep cybersecurity talent. Download a free copy of her book here. Brown Small is contributing editor of the blog.

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