Skip to content ↓ | Skip to navigation ↓

In the first article of this series on mentors we looked at the influencers – the catalysts responsible for landing our respondents where they are today. In the second installment we looked at the mentors who were the bosses that influenced us.

In this third and final article, we examine the role that peer-mentors had on our respondents, and how our compatriots and colleagues play an important role in shaping our personal and professional identities:

Javvad Malik (@J4vv4D), Security Analyst at The 451 Group

Then there is of course my best friend in security, Jitender Arora (@jee2uu). He is an inspirational story for anyone who doesn’t believe that hard work and dedication can get you anywhere. He came into the UK and joined the same team I was working on at a bank. From day one his relentless hard work put the rest of the team to shame. Fast forward a few years and he has made leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else, and now commands senior security positions in some of the largest organisations in the world.

Subject matter aside, it is a rare opportunity to work so closely and observe someone who really does have that extra special drive and ability. Jitender has provided great guidance over the years and helped turn me from a slacker into a not so much of a slacker.

Then of course there are my peers Andy Agnes (@SirJester) and Thom Langford (@ThomLangford), who prove that not all mentors need to be extremely senior and part of the ” been there done that” brigade, as Andy and Thom are peers who are probably at the same point in their careers as I am.

It’s always good to bounce ideas off each other and provide feedback and encouragement… whilst making fun of each other in typical British fashion, of course. We attend each other’s talks with the intention of observing and providing constructive feedback and we run ideas and presentations past each other, and as a result we’ve all benefited from the mutual knowledge sharing.

Jack Whitsitt (@sintixerr), Principle Analyst at Energy Sector Security Consortium

When I was in my late teens, I was fortunate enough to be friends with (and occasionally live with) a small group of hackers who called themselves the Lotex.

The Lotex kids were my first introduction to the hacker ethos and gave me a taste for coloring outside the lines. Later on, in the early 2000’s, my friend electr0n and I ran our own security group called (cute, in hindsight). We didn’t do much, but each of the individuals – including anonpoet, packetknife, transzorp, s3tuid, and others – in their own way continued to burn into my mind the difference between barriers which are perceived and those which are real.

In both cases, these groups expanded my mind in a way that provided a foundational understanding in the essence of a hacker’s perspective and shaped the way I lived my life, and so, my “mentor” here can really be said to be a small community hacker groups who provided non-critical support, perspective, and education.

Jitender Arora (@jee2uu), Global Programme Manager at Deutsche Bank

My mentor, more like my inspiration, is Mr. Javvad Malik (@J4vv4D). Javvad has achieved a lot in our industry in last 4-5 years. He is a very well known public figure, his work as an analyst is brilliant and his video blog is very informative and enjoyable. He is always pushing the barrier and trying to present the InfoSec topics in a very different and simple way. I met Mr. Javvad when I relocated to the UK and joined RBS Group. We were colleagues in the same team, and since then he has been a good friend, mentor and advisor.

Javvad has always pushed me to do more and more. He realised a few strengths and qualities in me that even I wasn’t aware, and inspired me when he started creating his video blog, writing his own blog and speaking at conferences. His trust and confidence in my abilities has made me do things which I might have never done myself, such as writing my own blog and speaking at conferences.

People like Javvad are an asset to the information security field because of their passion for sharing, pushing the boundaries, and for intellectual thinking. I always tell people that Javvad’s brain is wired differently than traditional security professionals, that he has a completely different take on security topics. Anyone who has worked with him or had an open conversation with him will testify that he brings a very unique and fresh perspective to any security topic, and most importantly presents it in his own unique, simple and understandable style.

Information Security is a journey and not a goal. This journey is constantly evolving and getting more exciting. Put your heart and soul in it, innovate, think differently and you will enjoy it more. Javvad is like a guiding light in my professional life and I would not have been able achieve whatever I have so far without his support and push.

Theresa Payton (@FortaliceLLC), CEO at Fortalice and former White House CIO

My mentor is Doris Gardner, Retired FBI cyber security and currently working at Mandiant. Our paths zig-zagged and crossed for many years during my career in banking, at the White House, and in consulting. Doris always makes the time to provide advice, be a sounding board, and will find the right person to talk to if she doesn’t have the answers.

Back when she and I first met, there was no easy “how to” manual to engage the FBI and tap into their vast experience, but Doris helped me navigate that agency, and she always gave me great advice on how to assess a situation before acting. Although Doris is quiet and humble, she has been a driving force on the front lines of information security for decades, diligently working cases and hunting the bad guys for years.

Doris has a wonderful family, and when they heard my little girl had a heart condition, they asked their church to pray for her and made a quilt square for her on a quilt of intentions. She not only has a huge heart in helping mentor other cybersecurity professionals, she is also just a very caring person.

Don Eijndhoven (@ArgentConsultin), CEO of B-Able Argent Consulting

Who’s your mentor? Thats actually a good question. I don’t really have one. And although at times I’ve really wished for one, I never have. That’s not to say that I haven’t been influenced by others. I’ve been so very fortunate to have met some of InfoSec’s most awesome people, and they have been prime examples for me during my career.

I was thinking of naming some names, but I soon had over 20 names of people who I absolutely had to mention because of the deep impact they’ve had on me. People who have become good friends even though we don’t break bread every day.

I instead decided to name just two: The late Barnaby Jack and the late Brad “The Nurse” Smith. These were guys that just had such an amazingly positive vibe around them, and it was such an honor to meet, sit, and drink with them. Both these men loved what they did, and radiated passion and contentedness about being in this business. This is what I’ve tried to learn from them: Find the same happiness in what I do.

As for the Mentor-Mentee relationship: If you can get a mentor, do so. This kind of bond seems to be exceedingly rare in today’s world, but I’m convinced we need it. Not just for the skills, but also for the mindset and the social connections.

Scott Thomas (@SecureHolio), Security Consultant at VioPoint

My mentor is E. Larry Lidz, Director Risk Management & Compliance at CNA Insurance, who was a coworker of mine when I first moved into security at CNA. Larry was a security engineer who mentored me not only on the technology behind some of the tools we used in security, but also on the fact that security needed to be business focused. Without the business, there was no security group, and we needed to be able to understand the business and cater to their needs

Larry is a level-headed security professional who understands that although the technology that goes into security can be very exciting, there must be a compelling business case driving its implementation. It must solve an issue for the business, or they will not buy into it.

When I first started in the security field, I found a meme with a dog that reminded me of my sister’s dog. I sent it to myself from work to home and received a reminder email from Larry via our Data Leak Prevention system about company policy concerning chain mail messages, I realized that there could be someone watching what you are doing at any time. We had a good laugh about it and have since became good friends.


Related Articles:


P.S. Have you met John Powers, supernatural CISO?


Title image courtesy of ShutterStock