This is a guest post from AIRIP member, Teyloure Ring. Teyloure is an embedded contractor at a leading technology company where she is the strategic planner for the executive protection, event risk management and intelligence teams. She holds a Master’s degree in International Studies: Russia, East Europe and Central Asia and a certificate in International Development Policy and Management from the University of Washington. Her graduate research detailed the integration of cyber tools in Russian information operations and the value of cybersecurity public-private partnerships in emerging markets.
Teyloure was a mentee in AIRIP's first mentor program session in Summer-Fall 2016. AIRIP will be starting up another round of mentoring in April 2017, so start to consider if you would like to be matched as a mentor or mentee. Hear what Teyloure had to say about it...
First, thank you to everyone involved in making the AIRIP mentor program a success! I found my participation in the program to be extremely valuable. Fresh out of college and new to risk intelligence, I entered the program wildly passionate about research and utterly lost in corporate America. Utterly lost may be an exaggeration, but the transition from academia to private-sector intelligence proved challenging.
Discussion around careers in risk intelligence is limited in the academic community, particularly regarding private-sector employment. I expected my post-graduation career path to follow a handful of trajectories. Nobody tells you, or perhaps I lacked the intuitiveness to discern, that in reality – picking a career in risk intelligence is much like a hyperbolic version of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” Rather than two, it feels as if 47 roads diverged in a wood, and each is equally as enticing – bringing the esoteric security concepts of academia to the boardroom. Going into the mentorship program, I knew I wanted to continue my career in risk intelligence, but I was entirely unsure how or what direction I wanted to go.
I had the opportunity to meet with my mentor, Jessica, in person on several occasions in addition to our regular phone and email exchanges. Hearing about her experiences and the uncertainties she felt throughout the course of her career was not only insightful but comforting as well. She offered a wealth of information and advice that only someone in her position could, advice from someone who had done precisely what I hope to do.
In our first conversation, I detailed my personal and professional interests as well as my job description. While these topics consumed my daily life, I had compartmentalized my interests so that mentally I had a box for personal cybersecurity research, a box for personal Russian studies, a box for work strategic planning and so forth. Jessica pointed out that my current job responsibilities did not reflect my passions in risk intelligence. This truth was something that I had either unknowingly or subconsciously been avoiding. However, Jessica quickly followed-up with advice. She explained that a lot of us are in new positions, positions that nobody has held before and that there are positions yet to be created – particularly in cybersecurity. My dream job, applying my background in post-Soviet studies to understand cybersecurity threats, is not a current position at my place of employment - because of funding constraints and current institutional organization. The need for similar positions is agreed upon by a growing number of professionals. Jessica put me in contact with a gentleman who started and runs one of the only private-sector fusion centers bringing together cybersecurity experts and intelligence analysts to address cyber threats. Conversations with him were extremely helpful and I was able to take back what I learned to my home organization.
Luckily for me, I work under a boss who is supportive of my cybersecurity interests, and we have been working with other teams in the enterprise to bring together cybersecurity experts with our team’s intelligence analysts. While progress is slow, we have established working relationships and have identified future areas of collaboration. Jessica’s advice was reassuring in that while the job I want may not be a current position, there is support work I can do in the meantime. I have since met with individuals working on cyber threat intelligence issues and am confident that soon we will produce joint intelligence products.
These are simply a few highlights of my experience with the AIRIP mentor program. The program’s short duration forced me to articulate my career objectives, aspirations and concerns. This simultaneous retrospective and forward-looking evaluation of my career in risk intelligence is precisely what I needed to reorient, re-energize and confidently move forward. I highly recommend the program for anyone working in risk intelligence!