Career Notes 5.16.21
Ep 49 | 5.16.21

Dominique West: Security found me. [Strategy]


 Dominique West: Hi, my name is Dominique West and I am a technical account manager.

Dominique West: My father is an engineer. He's been an engineer my entire life, so he had me taking apart computers at such a young age. I've grown up with technology. So I thought, why not see, you know, how I could make a career out of it. So in my undergraduate degree, I went for computer information systems. I learned about programming, networking, um, a number of different avenues.

Dominique West: It's funny, I did not learn about cybersecurity though. I had, I was introduced to cybersecurity, um, through another avenue of actually being a victim of credit card fraud and that's actually where I, I landed, uh, I should say security found me. And that's how I wound up getting into the field that way. 

Dominique West: After graduating, I was fortunate to land a position. It was a help desk position at a museum in New York City. Um, it was one of the best jobs I've had simply because, um, It's called the Rubin Museum of Art and they specialize in Buddhist and Himalayan art there. And I loved the museum. I love museums, but I also loved my team. We were a small team of three, but I was able to have my own lab and build a lab and learn how to put my own, you know, put networks together and how to troubleshoot computers and software. I was just so hands-on there that I think that was a very pivotal job for me in terms of, again, giving me the opportunity to explore.

Dominique West: And then from help desk, I was able to move on to a more technical engineering role, where I worked with vulnerability management companies, where I was able to learn about vulnerability scanning, um, risk management. From there, I pivoted into other engineering roles that landed me on the cloud security space and cloud security is something that I've been doing for the past six years and that's definitely a space that I um, currently thrive in. I really enjoy cloud security. I enjoy, um, where we're going in the future and the trajectory of it. So I, that's kind of been my realm for the past couple of years, which has allowed me to move now towards the more strategic side of technology, where I'm now a technical account manager and now I'm in charge of doing the more strategic cloud migrations, helping organizations align their business values, making sure that they are able to, again, uh, migrate their data, secure their data in the cloud, um, as much as possible. 

Dominique West: Actually, I distinctly remember being the only black person in my class. And then I was one of about four women. Um, I think at that time, it definitely, it was very isolating. I was under the impression that this was just how things were, um, and if I wanted to be successful, then it was just something that I had to figure out how to deal with. But it is something that I've become more cognizant of and at least become more vocal about making sure. Like, hey!  I think we need to evaluate or I'm definitely evaluating on the teams that I join or organizations or anything that I participate in making sure that representation, um, is being valued, uh, at wherever I'm going. 

Dominique West: Security in Color started off as a side project. I for the most part I've found as I was navigating my way through the security industry, found a lot of the articles that I've came across to be quite complex. So I thought I would like to create a blog in which I was able to break down the complexity of cybersecurity for those who are interested. So that little side project actually turned into an entire podcast and newsletter. I wanted to do my part in making sure that I'm helping those who are trying to get into our field, have a little bit of easier time, um, than I did. So I, uh, with Security in Color, now I do weekly podcast episodes in which I break down, um, the different cybersecurity news that is happening in the industry at the moment for that week. So I wanted to create a kind of a one-stop shop place for everyone to figure out how do they navigate their way into cybersecurity and what resources are available to them.

Dominique West: Community is a great way to navigate your way in this career. There are so many organizations out there for example, that help women or people of color who are trying to get into the cybersecurity field, offering resources, offering different opportunities. So there are a number of organizations that you can choose from you  know to join membership and find ways to figure out the complexity of cybersecurity. It can be very, um, overwhelming, um, and don't want that to be a dejection for people. So I definitely recommend people, hey, seek out women organizations, organizations that might have value for you for whatever interests that you have.  And then from there, just explore. The great thing about cybersecurity is there's so many different aspects of it for you to explore. And there's so many free resources out there for you to get your hands dirty. So I always recommend people go ahead and get your hands dirty out there and figure out what you like and what you don't like and do community.