Career Notes 8.27.23
Ep 164 | 8.27.23

Dina Haines: Keep the boat afloat. [Partnership manager]


Dina Haines: Hi, my name is Dina Haines and I am an Industry Partnership Manager with National Security Agency's Cybersecurity Collaboration Center.

Dina Haines: I wanted to be lots of things when I was growing up. I wanted to be a teacher and an astronaut and a stock market trader. I really wanted to help others from a really young age. I was fascinated by, um, technology and how to do that. I had a love of teaching, I spent some time in Florida and was fascinated by space. My dad worked in the space industry. And so the astronaut piece was really interesting to me, although I didn't have the science background to do that and then I actually had a job as a stock market trader for a little bit and I think I pulled them all together and became a cybersecurity professional.

Dina Haines: I remember my first intersection, which actually is a little earlier than my first computer. My dad worked in the space industry and he took me to work one day and showed me this new technology called a Telex machine, which was the precursor to the fax machine and I remember typing a message from our east coast office to his colleague out at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and instantly later, a message came back to me and I was simply amazed and I was all in, in tech from that day on. Which I think I might've just dated myself with all of that because it was before I had a computer.

Dina Haines: My career progression has definitely been eclectic. I worked in the private sector for a while. I worked at a global consulting firm, a multinational entertainment company, and actually two tech startups and then I worked in academia where I continue to sort of teach and write cybersecurity curriculum and my current role at the NSA is actually my second tour in government service, both times were with the NSA. I've worked with our foreign Intel mission and now, um, I work on our cyber defensive mission and I actually even took a bit of a sabbatical for a couple of years and worked in motor racing and so while that is definitely eclectic career, um, no matter what job I've had, I've learned things that I use every single day.

Dina Haines: As an industry partnership manager, my job is to bring in private industry to help the NSA, um, to bend and protect in cyberspace and so my day is spent, um pulling people together, facilitating meetings, getting private industry to come in, these public private partnerships that you hear about, um, we are the ones that facilitate them and bring information together and be able to share non public information with private industry to help all of us collectively better defend in cyber. Private industry works much faster than government. I don't think that's probably a surprise, um, but government has the time and typically the resources to go very deep. So if you want to learn quickly, sort of be state of the art, then sometimes private sector is better because of the way that they have to innovate quickly, um, but if you want to look at a problem and really have the resources to dig deep into that problem, then government is actually a great place to be there.

Dina Haines: I, um, would consider myself a personable leader. I try to spend a lot of time listening and seeing where people, where they're coming from, where they're at, you know, potentially in their career, where they're at in their job that day, and then try to, um, support them and bring them up and, and float the entire boat.

Dina Haines: I think over time I have, um, learned to be very resilient. Uh, one of the things that I think is important is finding mentors and allies that, that can help pick you up when you hit those barriers or when you hit those bad days, and then I really am a big believer later in my career now that surrounding yourself with kind humans that make you laugh is what is needed to get through some days.

Dina Haines: I think the first thing is to be super curious, particularly if you want to work in cyber. There's always something new to learn in this field. I think it's important to have grace with yourself and watch the negative chatter that's in your head and I would say, um, to be open to a career journey that's not a straight path, that is a winding road with lots of side paths, I think that that's a fascinating place to be.

Dina Haines: When I look back to where we were at, uh, particularly diversity in tech in the early nineties, particularly with respect to women and where we are today, we are undoubtedly making progress. I wanted to share a story at an early job in my career. We had about 5% women represented in the technical workforce, and during one of our all hands meetings, one of the leaders kind of looked around and noted to all of us women in the room that we needed to keep our resumes up to date, because there'd never been a woman leader at that company, and while he was in charge, there never would be one. So fast forward that to today, and I am super proud to say that NSA's Cyber Center has nearly 50% women in our technical workforce, and our chief and deputy chief are both women. Every day they empower me to do my best work, to defend against cyber threats and be the best version of myself. And so we have definitely come a long way. I think there, there's a lot of conversation about, you know, all the, all the barriers and all the challenges. But I do think when you look across time, we are in a so much of a better place and sometimes I don't think we focus on that. We just focus on all the, you know, bad parts. 

Dina Haines: I hope that, um, for my two sons that I've shown that tenacity and hard work really can bring success in a technical field and that I'm possibly cooler than they think I am. But I hope that my legacy would be that I've made a difference in securing our nation.