Career Notes 4.25.21
Ep 46 | 4.25.21

Marcelle Lee: Cyber sleuth detecting emerging threats. [Research]


Marcelle Lee: My name is Marcelle Lee, and I'm a senior security researcher at Secureworks.

Marcelle Lee: I wanted to do a lot of different things in my life and have done quite a few of them. I had one year of EE in college and that definitely wasn't for me. So at the time, like I had never even considered like a career computers because it just, wasn't something that I grew up with at all and didn't have any concept, you know, of what a career in that field would look like. So, yeah, but here I am now.

Marcelle Lee: I had a relative pass away and I was in charge of managing their estate and it was a bit complicated because there was like a household to, you know, empty and a house to sell and, and so on and so forth. And, but because I was getting some money from that, I was able to like, basically quit my full-time gig, which was managing like capital projects for a municipality, and focus on taking care of the estate and then getting into the cyber thing cause I had a little bit of funds and flexibility. The other thing that helped was I actually was part of a grant program and I think it was through the county that I live in, but it was federally funded and this was just one of these things to get workers re-skilled in cybersecurity. So with that program, basically it paid for classes at my local community college, which it has an excellent cyber program and also paid for certifications. So the idea is that you would take a class, sit for a cert, take a class sit for a cert. So, so those two things are really what made it possible for me to just kind of throw caution to the wind and leap into this with both feet.

Marcelle Lee: There's so many different roles in cybersecurity. So, you know, everybody thinks like to be in cyber is to be like a pen tester or something, right? But there's many, many different,  paths that people can take. I always recommend, you know, trying to find your specialty. You're like one thing that you're really good at and focus on that and it doesn't mean you can't build other skills along the way. But to have something that you're really good at is confidence- boosting for sure and it gives you, you know, sort of a starting point.

Marcelle Lee: I love the part where I feel like a detective basically. So trying to get to the bottom of a, maybe a cyber campaign, or trying to understand motivations of a threat actor or, you know, whatever. It's just a lot of uncovering of stones and, in my role as a security researcher, like it's the perfect job for me because I get to work on as I always say, whatever shiny cyber thing catches my eye, as long as it's impactful potentially to our clients. And then my other role at Secureworks is the emerging threats leads. So that also suits me very nicely because I do like to try to keep my finger on the pulse of, of anything sort of new and interesting that's coming down the pike. So I look at cyber crime, I look at, different countries and their cyber activity, you know, outside of like the primary ones that we already have, you know, people like we have a Russian person and a North Korean person and you know, so on and so forth. But I get like what we call it, the rest of the world.

Marcelle Lee: I'm certainly of the generation of women that were not encouraged to do anything particularly technical, and I didn't know anybody who did anything particularly technical. I had like one friend who is maybe a civil engineer or something like that, but, you know, nobody else worked in any kind of role like that. So it, it really took a long time to, to realize that I, I can be a technical person and I'm actually pretty good at it. And to me, there's nothing more exciting than getting somebody to be passionate about cybersecurity as, as an industry, or, or just to get excited about, you know, a topic you see like light bulbs going off when people like suddenly, you know, get how something works and, and to me, that's super rewarding. 

Marcelle Lee: This is, a tough industry, right? And we need, we need more people always to, to help solve all the hard, hard problems there are help defend, help, you know, do all the things in cyber. And we just don't have enough people. We don't have enough bodies. So from that end, we just need more people, period. But I also particularly like to encourage, you know, diversity in hiring and, and encourage like women and really anybody who is interested in the field and has, you know, comes from a diverse background to get into it because also it's, it's a great way to like, stimulate your mind and just keep growing as a person because it's so, you know, not static, you have to continue to grow and learn and I think that's awesome for people to be able to do.