Career Notes 4.16.23
Ep 145 | 4.16.23

Jack Chapman: Shielding against the bad guys. [Threat Intelligence]


Jack Chapman: Hello, my name's Jack Chapman and I'm the Vice President of Threat Intelligence for Egress.

Jack Chapman: I sort of made the sort of quite conscious decision to get into technology from quite an early age, and even cybersecurity always interested me back then even, um, I grew up with two, uh, parents who were police officers, so as you'd imagine in the physical world, I got away with absolutely nothing. And then there was this cyberspace or technology space. The internet was quite new then, and that was where I could get up to trouble, really. I remember having sort of some secondhand computers from my dads work at home and always like dismantling and building loads again and remember, sort of I'm of the age where schools were just starting to get computers in and starting to have the first sort of IT lessons and, um, it was all quite a new world for everyone at the time.

Jack Chapman: As soon as I came out of university I sort of was looking around some of these cybersecurity conferences, like you do think the offerings there, and I'd spent a couple of years researching the domain as I already knew I wanted to go into cybersecurity. I went and worked for a couple of different startups for six months here and sort of six months there just to get a bit of background experience and start my network. And then I started the journey for my first startup, which, um, failed completely, funny enough. Um, it was fantastic technically, but the thing they don't teach at university is you need to have customers, which was a bit of a shock to quite a sort of young 20 year old.

Jack Chapman: Then after which we sort of sat down one day, myself and my co-founder and we decided it's not gonna work. Do we wanna sort of pack it all up, and sort of go and get day jobs or do we wanna do the mad thing of trying again? And we decided, actually, we've learned a lot on this journey, uh, from sort of the first day when we didn't even know how to sort of found a business all the way through to actually we're starting to learn some things here. That's interesting. And the pace we are learning is increas. So we looked at what technology we had and we said, okay, actually we think we can do something in the fishing space with some of this technology and we sort of got a lucky break where we got some of the interest from NCSC and GCHQ, which is the UK equivalent of the NSA. And we sort of showed them our technology and they tore it to part, to bits. We sort of went home, very depressed, going, oh my goodness, I've, I've not made anything good here and we get a phone call not too long later saying, they're actually quite impressed with what we've produced and whether we wanted to sort of apply to go on their accelerator program, which was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, it wasn't what I was expecting there. 

Jack Chapman: So we went through all of the processes, was sort of a competitive bids and we, we managed to get selected as the anti fishing solution, um, for that particular accelerator program that was sort of being pushed forward by UK government and it was a fantastic experience where we spent, uh, nine months working with the sort of global experts on the sort of taking our baby and trying to grow it to something that can really have an impact in sort of the global ecosystem even. And over that period, we refined the product and grew it and it had a really sort of positive impact where it was showing that it was essentially outperform even our initial expectations, which is very satisfying from building something from nothing.

Jack Chapman: Through lucky coincidence, we, uh, got put in touch with Egress where I'm currently employed, and a fantastic conversation with the founders, we are very aligned on vision and ethoses, things that really matter to us all. And it's been sort of a, a bit of a fantastic journey, very sort of going from that small team where you're still trying to do your initial, sort of proving the market with your product to sort of do multimillion pound revenue a year business. We did want the same mission for that product. We can drive this faster and sort of better, for lack of better words together, rather than the speed I could have done it on my own or with my smaller business. So it is been a really good experience and especially from a lot of my colleagues who have done a similar experience. I was really thankful cause I've heard so many times where it's gone wrong. I was very nervous to begin with, but it's all turned out incredibly well to be honest.

Jack Chapman: So, my former title is VP of Threat Intelligence, but in some ways I'm Egress' chief, bad guy. I'm the one who sort of will think like the criminals do. So most of my day-to-day is, um, essentially enabling people, cuz they're all sort of very driven and we are trying to sort of make sure everyone's enabled as much as possible to own what they're doing and that's very important to me, that sense of ownership with people. I'm probably what you call a servant leader, my mission is to enable and shield my teams from things that will prevent them from succeeding in their missions, whatever that might look like. I'm not there to micromanage or any of those things. It's something I believe doesn't get the full results and the full enablement on seeing people grow into this role. And one thing we always talk about is what, what is the mission of what we're doing on a daily basis? Cause that gives us that sense of fulfillment, um, which I think is very important, especially in a field like cyber, where it really does have a real world impact.

Jack Chapman: First of all, I'd say cyber is a fantastic career, both in a technical sense, but there's also a lot of non-technical career paths into cyber. What I would recommend is do your reading around the subject, but also reach out to people in the industry. The mentors I've had, no one I've re ever reached out to has rejected me in a mean or horrible way. Everyone is very welcoming as we've all been on similar paths. On top of that, I'd also advise of try lots of different elements of cyber. It's quite a broad church of different job roles and functions and missions and give it a go. There's a lot of resources online where you can sort of try out different elements without having to get a job and sort of commit to certification and it's more accessible today than it's ever been.

Jack Chapman: For me, it's the people around me, which sort of help drive me. Seeing them succeed, seeing them overcome their challenges. And also just remembering that at the end of the day, the work we are doing has real purpose. With my background of having strayed onto the other side of it as a young child, um, the thought of frustrating criminals gives me a great sense of satisfaction. So when, whenever I'm having sort of a tough day, I sort of always think back to what is the mission? And how am I helping people and beating bad guys?

Jack Chapman: I'd like to have had a meaningful impact to help drive our whole field forward. Um, we see a lot of modernization and a lot of things changing in cybersecurity at the moment. I'm hoping to play my small part where I can help drive that forward. For me, it's less being remembered as an individual. It's more around ensuring that I can leave the world slightly better than it is today.