Career Notes 1.10.21
Ep 31 | 1.10.21

Tom Gorup: Fail fast and fail forward. [Operations]


Tom Gorup: My name is Tom Gorup. I am Vice President of Security and Support Operations at Alert Logic. I remember, I think I was 13 or 14 when I built my first website. That's really where it all started, where that interest began. Thinking about communicating with people on the other side of the world in milliseconds. So the Internet and in of itself and how it worked, which was fascinating to me.

Tom Gorup: And I joined the Army shortly after high school with a different profession. I actually went to work on computers to do a computer-related role in the Army and ended up with an infantry position. So I wouldn't say I lost interest, there was always there, I always continue to to dabble in different types of technology and just play with things. But my career, the focus at the time was infantry. So I was a grunt, that's the best way to say it.

Tom Gorup: I was learning a lot more of leadership fundamentals in the military, learning how to lead a team, to train a team, and as I was going through that process, I remember in Afghanistan, reading the CCNA study guide in my bunk. Right. There was no lab for me to test these things out on, no actual hands on keyboard activities that I could be doing so, ,ust laying in the bunk reading. I remember reading the first three or four chapters, probably two or three times, because I didn't understand any of it. And I finally got to the security section. And it's like this, this makes sense. I can take tactics that I've learned in the military and apply them to a computer network. The difference is I'm not using machine guns and claymores, I'm using antivirus and firewalls.

Tom Gorup: And once I got out of the military, I started going to school and trying to find where that passion sat and dabbling in different things. And I realized you I need any more experience so I was seeking internship opportunities. So a lot of late nights I remember staying up three or four o'clock in the morning trying to figure out how to do different types of attacks and see what those attacks look like on the wire and how to take advantage. Work ethic is an important aspect of the security industry. If you want to be in security, it's not just the nine to five punch in and punch out type position. If it weren't for the front-end hard work there, definitely I wouldn't have had the opportunities that I had after that. I built a security automation solution. I called the Grunt where we automated firewall blocks. It was fairly basic in that sense, but I was able to integrate that into six or seven different different firewalls, automating a lot of work for our analysts and also driving us into that MDR market, which was super early on. Over time, I moved into director and co-founder of Rook Security because the SOC really didn't exist until I got there. And Rook was originally Rook Consulting. We moved to Rook Security because our our SOC had grown to be such a large player in our business. So from there and then Rook Security sold to Sophos and I came over to a Alert Logic as Vice President of Security and Support Operations here.

Tom Gorup: It's a lot more strategic thinking, which again coming from the military background, lets me draw from when we did battle planning. It all comes back to is communication, right? How do we communicate the commander's intent and bring that down into down to the soldiers? In this case, you know, I kind of have that commander position and how do I enable my team to execute against the higher level vision and how do I communicate that across different teams within Alert Logic? So it shifted to a lot more communication and working well with others. And that's all been building blocks leading up to where I'm at now.

Tom Gorup: The things that I've learned were because of the experiences that I've had. I think failure is a good thing. You shouldn't shy away from failure. And failure is just another opportunity to learn. And you need to have that mindset, especially if you're going to a new career or doing something that that you've never done before. Fail fast and fail forward.