Career Notes 7.30.23
Ep 160 | 7.30.23

Morgan Adamski: Seeing around corners. [Collaboration]


Morgan Adamski: Hi, my name is Morgan Adamski and I'm the director of the National Security Agency's Cybersecurity Collaboration Center.

Morgan Adamski: I had a, you know, hot pink glitter beeper, and I think that is just totally embarrassing. But that was one of my first contacts with technology. I remember going into my basement, rolling up one of those like accordion desks, um, those wooden desks where the top would come up, I would log on, there would be a dial up. So you have the do, do, do, uh, and then log on to your AI messenger and you just be so excited on who would pop on so you could talk to them. Um, and so that was probably my first experience with a computer at the time.

Morgan Adamski: So when I was growing up, I was in highly competitive sports programs where I was training from early in the morning to late at night, and I really just loved being able to be part of a team, um, and leading those teams and kind of do a lot of orchestration of different types of practices and plays and how are we going to win, and so I just knew, um, growing up that I kind of enjoyed that competitive nature. I will also offer, uh, that I found a lot of, um, excitement when I got to understand rationale behind decisions and then kind of challenge them. So I guess maybe a lawyer in some respect. Um, but I really just kind of gravitated to those opportunities where I could be on a team, but also could just really debate whether or not something made sense.

Morgan Adamski: So, um, in high school, um, was right about the time that 9/11 occurred. Um, and I became fascinated with understanding who was behind it, why it happened, and how we could stop it in the future. So I naturally gravitated to pursuing a degree in national security. Now at UNC Chapel Hill, they have a program in peace, war, and defense. It's called PWAD. It's not a well known program. Uh, but it actually is all focused on just war theory, understanding war strategy, um, understanding how to essentially get ahead of your opponents and have a competitive advantage. And so I studied that through college and then went straight on to get my master's in strategic intelligence with a focus on national security. So I have been in the national security business, uh, ever since high school, I'd like to say.

Morgan Adamski: Right out of graduate school, I was able to get a cooperative education opportunity at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Proceeding from DIA, I was there for about two years working counterintelligence, and then I actually moved to the National Security Agency around 2010, went straight into the NSA Threat Operations Center, which was responsible for cyber defense at the time, uh, and got to work on the cyber defense side of the game and learn a lot about the business there before actually transitioning, uh, to work the offensive mission uh, for NSA, as well as work cyber policy down at the Pentagon. So I have worked the offensive, the defensive, and the policy sides of the House.

Morgan Adamski: I would offer that my leadership style is someone that is fast paced, very operationally focused, but also wants to understand how we need to plan for the future. Um, a lot of people like, you know, when I think about how I approach problems, it's not just about connecting the dots, it's about seeing around the corners. And so that helps me better predict, um, how do I build an organization that's successful three to five years down the road.

Morgan Adamski: So. I learned at a young age through sports that what really defines people is not necessarily their successes, but it's how they react after their failures. Um, and so I find that when I'm having a bad day or something doesn't go my way, it's really important, um, for what you do next. What's your next step? How do you approach the problem? How do you ensure that the people around, you know, you're approaching the problem in a way that's positive. Um, and so I really put a lot of emphasis on figuring out how do we come back? It's a minor setback. You can always come back, it's just you get to define what that looks like.

Morgan Adamski: When cybersecurity workforce, they really focus in on the technical aspects of that. Um, and what People really need to recognize about this industry is it's, it's really not just about being a technical professional. Cybersecurity is about having people who can communicate well, people who understand policy, who understand how to bring people together to have a fruitful conversation and deliver mission outcomes. It takes all different types of people, um, to work in the cybersecurity workforce. And I would just offer that if you're interested in being in the workforce, really think about the skills that you could bring to bear to help us and those are going to be a lot of different things.

Morgan Adamski: I think when I think about, um, what makes the most sense for people, whether they work in the private sector or whether they work in the government sector, I think the bottom line is that we need strong people on both sides of the fence. Um, we need people who work in the government, who are technical, who understand how the government operates, understand who the right POCs are, and who are advocating for those private sector partners to get the types of information they need to protect their networks and their customers and then likewise, I need people in the private sector who are willing to work with me, who understand my authorities and my capabilities, but also understand my constraints. And so, uh, to your question on why I would, you know, the luring of the private sector, um, I would offer that I'm just as valuable inside the fence than I am outside.

Morgan Adamski: I hope that when people look back at the work that I've done, um, they think, you know, they see that I'm helping lead the National Security Agency into a new area of more openly sharing cybersecurity insights with industry. That is what I want my legacy to be, that I am just one of those people trying to help bridge that gap.