Career Notes 8.2.20
Ep 9 | 8.2.20

Chris Cochran: Rely on your strengths in the areas of the unknown. [Engineering]


Chris Cochran: Hello, my name is Chris Cochran, I am the director of security engineering at a financial technology company called Marqeta, and I'm also the host of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast. 

Chris Cochran: I've always been fascinated by technology. And so quite early on, I would take apart computers and look at the components and try to figure out what makes them tick. And that's just kind of carried on throughout my entire career. My career really started in the United States Marine Corps. I got in and I picked this job of intelligence, not even really understanding what it was. It just sounded cool. So I just decided to do it. And really quickly, I realized that this is the mission that supports the National Security Agency, which is where I was stationed for the majority of my Marine Corps career. And this is where I learned the tradecraft of intelligence. And that's what kind of propelled me into this realm of cybersecurity. I started doing threat intelligence analysis at United States Cyber Command as a contractor. And after about five years of that, I decided to step out on my own and I went on a spree of sprouting up threat intelligence capabilities all around the country.

Chris Cochran: One of the most notable things that I started was I started the intelligence apparatus for the House of Representatives, which is something I'm really proud of. And I did the contractor out for a little bit. I was at Mandiant. I was at Booz Allen Hamilton for a little while. And then one day I received a call that Netflix wanted to talk to me about leading their threat intelligence capability. And so that ended up working out. And we - I took my family and we flew across the country and I helped build that program to what it is today. And now I decided to step away from threat intelligence due to doing it for over 12 years. And now I lead a much larger portion of cybersecurity.

Chris Cochran: What I tell people is I protect organizations from the bad actors out there on the Internet, so the people, the the bad hackers that are out there, they're trying to do bad things to people's data, to applications, to organizations. I help protect the organization from those.

Chris Cochran: One of the things that is often tough when you pivot is the area of the unknown, and I try to rely on my strengths, my strengths of critical thinking. I was practically a philosophy major when I was in school, ended up graduating with humanities. And I think that kind of set the base for me to be able to pivot to different areas of technology, areas of the workforce. So coming from the government, there were still additional skills I had to acquire on my own. So I went back to school, ended up getting some certifications and getting my minor in cybersecurity. But that really helped set the lexicon in the language that I would use in the commercial industry and pivoting from position to position and sort of like working my way up that cybersecurity ladder. I had to really rely on my strengths and there was quite often this feeling of imposter syndrome that would kind of loom over me every time I made one of those transitions. And I had to constantly remind myself that, you know, you're here for a reason. You have skills that are valuable to the team, to the organization, and so rely on that. Hang your hat on that fact. And that's what's enabled me to take risks and take on larger components of the pie or taking on challenges that I didn't think I could do originally.But now I get excited about those challenges.

Chris Cochran: I really hope that people look back especially like with the podcast. I really hope that people look back and see that I have shared so many stories of so many amazing people around the world. And hopefully, those stories inspire other people to get into cybersecurity and help us with this, this crazy, crazy field, because I feel like we are one of the only industries where we have adversaries. And so I feel like we're all sort of fighting that same fight, going back to that that Marine Corps mentality. And in the Marine Corps, we say, "one team, one fight." And I really do I wholeheartedly believe that everyone in cybersecurity is fighting on the same side. And so I hope that I inspire some people to take up arms within this cybersecurity arena and help us with that and help make the Internet safer for everybody.