Career Notes 5.28.23
Ep 151 | 5.28.23

Stacy Dunn: My superpower and my kryptonite. [Engineer]


Stacy Dunn: Hello, my name is Stacy Dunn and I'm a senior Solutions Engineer at SANS.

Stacy Dunn: I wanted to be a little bit of everything. If you were to ask me back then, I would tell you, well, I wanna be a veterinarian and I wanna be an artist, and I wanna be a teacher and I wanna be this and this, and this. Um, was cybersecurity or anything that had to do with computers or information technology on my radar back then. No, no, it actually was not, even though that's something that I frequently did, I just didn't know it was an option until later in life.

Stacy Dunn: I started to take a really, really big interest in a couple of different things, namely gaming online, such as things like StarCraft and then also I really liked just being online. I don't know if that's really a good way to put it, but I liked exploring different websites. I liked to see if I could get to places that I wasn't supposed to be, and I also liked to be online whenever I was, um, not supposed to be either, which is a whole nother story in of itself. At the time, whenever I first got out of high school, I knew that I wanted to go to college because I did participate in a scholarship program that got me, uh, two free years of tuition at a community college. I did the thing where I kind of waited a little bit because I didn't know what I wanted to do by the time I got out. But eventually I did go back and I went to pursue, at that time, I think it was a degree in psychology because again, it changed a lot. Um, I wanted to get in and go toward my fine arts degree, which I did eventually do, but it changed a couple of times throughout that process.

Stacy Dunn: I was working generally in different retail jobs there was one I had for quite some time, I was a store manager at a very popular gaming store that a lot of people probably know about. And at one point in time, whenever you're in a role like that, either you love it or you hate it. There's some in between, sure. But I was at the end of my rope and I one day as a store manager, we were doing a store reset. And it just so happened that our networking person came in and I wasn't able to identify them right away because they were wearing a muscle shirt and sweatpants and socks and sandals, and they just looked, you know, really, really relaxed, really chill, eventually they came up to me and said, Hey, I'm so and so. I'm gonna be working on your networking. I'm a contractor, and the first thing that I thought to myself after being so frustrated with being a video game retail store manager was, "wow I wish I could be more like that guy. Maybe I need to get into tech."

Stacy Dunn: So what happened next was I, it was kind of a joke at the time, I went to my partner and I had expressed that interest to him. I said, I don't wanna do this anymore. Maybe I'm thinking of going back to school and at that time, he said, absolutely. I've, I've seen you troubleshoot your own stuff. Like when you had a tablet that you couldn't connect, you were able to find the legacy drivers that you needed. I've seen you hook up your computer to the printer before, he's like, I don't really have to help you with a lot of, any of those things. I really think you could be good at this. You have a knack for it.

Stacy Dunn: So what that turned into was I decided I wanted to go back to school and I started to pursue a degree in management information systems and information assurance. Um, in the meantime, I got a part-time work study role at school, at their information technology department and at the same time, I also got a part-time job as a teller at a bank. And interestingly enough, the bank teller position is what elevated me into my first, I guess, more serious technology role. Four months after being a teller, I was already promoted to help desk and then for help desk. After four months in being a help desk and purposefully trying to solve information security tickets, I was in information security. At that time the CISO that promoted me into information security was a SANS instructor and had, uh, familiarized me with the organization, um, some of the content and just kind of more communities or organizations that are centric to information security in general.

Stacy Dunn: I would say my leadership style specifically, I try to be very collaborative. I try to definitely, you know, work alongside people and pull other business units together so we're all on the same page. Um, I like to create repeatable frameworks that way we don't have to do things from scratch over and over again. So that's, that's kind of the style that I like to fall into. I like to, um, you know, be very transparent, communicate clearly, and make sure that we all align with things that we're best at doing and then, you know, of course, sometimes challenge ourselves as well.

Stacy Dunn: I have ADHD, so that adversity can be in a variety of different ways. It could be my own internal struggles, or it could be something that's external that's happening that's causing the adversity, I would say in general, the way that I handle it is depending on the circumstances, but typically I do fall under some of the same patterns of trying to give myself space and really trying to, I guess, dissect whatever problem I have piece by piece, that way it doesn't overwhelm me. It's both a superpower and kryptonite because I think something that is a fundamental misunderstanding of most people, and maybe even some people that do have ADHD, is that it's not just the aspect of not being able to focus, it's also an aspect of focusing too much. There's two sides of it and those things can happen simultaneously. Most people will experience both of those things and whenever it's a hyper focus on something you need to get done, well that's great, right? But then there are other times where you might have some executive dysfunction, which turns into maybe working on, uh, things a little bit at a time or, or piecemeal. I guess I will say, is that sort of I always call it a dopamine slot machine where whenever you find something new or you figure something out, you just get this like, ah, that feels great. So it's this constant series of solving different puzzles or problems that just feels really good to do and I think that that's why a lot of us are attracted to it because it has a lot of that, uh, or, or rather a lot of those troubleshooting or puzzle like aspects that a lot of us seem to be drawn to.