Career Notes 5.22.22
Ep 101 | 5.22.22

Charity Wright: Pursue what you love. [Threat intelligence]


Charity Wright: Hello, my name is Charity Wright, and I'm a threat intelligence analyst at Recorded Future.

Charity Wright: When I was young, I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater, which, uh, did not happen, but it was something to strive after. When I was maybe in late high school, I started really taking an interest in the world around me, international relations, so I guess that did lead to studying international studies at the University of North Texas.

Charity Wright: I was in my third year of college, when a hulking man in uniform approached me in the food court area, and said, I was wondering if I could sit down and talk to you about the U.S army and he was actually one of the rare recruiters that knew about the army linguist program and he was recruiting college students specifically that could test into the linguist program and, you know, it captured my interest right away, learning a foreign language, getting out of my parents' house, moving to California. So it sounded like a great opportunity, and so I went straight into the army and they explained the army will pay for the rest of your college classes. So I decided to take those classes one by one while I was serving on active duty.

Charity Wright: Being a linguist, I don't think I really understood what I was getting myself into. I think I imagined that I was going to be working at an embassy overseas and doing some kind of interpreting work. Um, but I had not really researched what army linguists do. So I was very surprised and pleased to learn that the army assigned me to learn Mandarin Chinese. Uh, and to be honest, I really didn't have confidence that I could learn Chinese, but I thought, Hey, I'm being paid to learn it, so I may as well try, and it was a really wonderful experience. Then much to my surprise, I found out towards the end of the course that I was going to be assigned to work in Hawaii. So once I found that out, I was very motivated to finish, and then, when I went to Hawaii, I was stationed to work at the National Security Agency.

Charity Wright: My husband at the time was also in the Navy and he was deployed on submarines. So I had to find some balance for the family and I decided to support his career and get out of active duty, and I transitioned directly into the Hawaii army national, still as a Chinese linguist. Well, husband took orders to Maryland, so we relocated and, you know, being right by, uh, NSA headquarters at Fort Meade and the defense industry in DC, I thought for sure, I'd be able to get a contract job. Um, but it was 2012, and the economy was, uh, was not great and the job market was flooded with veterans that were cleared with security clearances. So it was a little challenging to get into a contract job. That's when I started, um, a job in cybersecurity in the private sector. So to me, that was one of the most amazing times in my career is actually switching from public sector to private sector and getting into cybersecurity, which was a brand new area for me.

Charity Wright: Working in threat intelligence is a really exciting, fun, um, fast paced environment. Like, I work on the global issues team now, so I do strategic, uh, global intelligence, I still focus heavily on China and especially, um, the past nine months or so I've been focused exclusively on Chinese influence operations. So there is never a dull day when, uh, you're monitoring threats around the world. My day-to-day I wake up in the morning pretty early and I, I have to admit I'm a little addicted to my job. So I jumped straight into, you know, what happened while I was sleeping. Is there anything breaking that I need to report on? And then within the global issues team, we're monitoring, you know, what's going on around the world and writing analysts notes. So it's kind of like a summary of what's happening, but also the analysis, and we enrich it with, with other important factors that are happening around that. 

Charity Wright: We have a wonderful manager who, um, you know, manages the team aspects and then I get to add the expert level analysis and help work with those junior analysts. I get to do senior review on a lot of their notes. Um, and you know, it's just an amazing environment where I learned from them and they learn from me, these younger junior analysts are amazing, their perspectives that they bring to our analysis and how we can check each other's bias, which is really important as an analyst, especially as an American intelligence analyst with a military background. I recognize that I do have my own biases that I have to keep in check and while I may see something as very extreme, other people try to bring up, oh, well, here's a different perspective. And I love that.

Charity Wright: I think one of the most important things I've learned in my career is to not let anyone silo you into a role or a place that you are not happy in. Um, a lot of times people will label you based on your past experiences. So, for example, I came from a military intelligence background and I literally knew very little about IT and nothing about cybersecurity when I jumped into that position and I really kind of put myself out there and said, Hey, look, this is what I can bring to the table, this is what I'm really good at, here's my gaps, and here's how I'm trying to fill those gaps and that's what got me into this industry. But once you're in, a lot of times, people will try to be like, okay, you belong in this section or this is your area of expertise. So you need to stick to this. But I like to encourage people to pursue what you love, because you really going to be good at what you do when you love it. And I feel very blessed to have found a job and a company that allows me to do what I love and what I'm good at. So I kind of went down my own path and a lot of people were trying to, no, no, no, go back to your threat Intel role, you're a technical person. And I thought, you know what? There's not enough women in this industry on stage or on camera, or on the mic, speaking about their experiences, speaking about their knowledge and, um, sharing that with the world and we need more representation. So part of it was, uh, a little bit of me going, Hey, we need more women in this and the other part was, this is really fun and I love it.