Next is John Nemoto, a vice president at CGI Federal, and finalist in the Cybersecurity Executive of the Year, Public Company category. Here, he talks about breaking rules in GovCon and shares career advice.
Which rules do you think you should break more as a government/industry leader?
Just because a solution, a tool, a process — has worked in the past — doesn’t mean you can assume it’s efficacy for the future. This is particularly true when it comes to cybersecurity. Change is the only constant. We need to be ready, willing, and able to continuously re-assess and re-adapt what weaponry we are going to bring to the fight.
We also need to be open-minded enough to admit that previous successes may no longer be applicable. The ever-increasing and evolving cyber threats we face, the duality of edge technologies (e.g. the Jekyll and Hyde nature of AI or IoT) — these require cybersecurity leaders and experts to be more innovative, collaborative, and agile in our strategies and response to the cyber landscape.
Another consideration to keep in mind: the path to success is progressively mapped out by simply taking a step… or perhaps, a series of steps. Don’t get stuck in “analysis paralysis.” Sometimes achieving just 75% in terms of resolution or fix is better than doing nothing. It’s still a step forward and gets you moving towards a better, more secure state.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t. What I mean about not following in my or anyone else’s footsteps is that — every individual has a unique path to success. In this ever-changing market, across any industry for that matter, I never followed a path of forcing myself into someone else’s “mold.”
Twenty-five years plus into my career, I’m still consistently “re-inventing” and evolving my expertise so that I’m always pacing (or maybe slightly ahead) of the market.
So, start from where you are — whether you are in the private or public sector, a think tank or academia—learn as much as you can and apply all the learnings to accomplish your tasks and your goals. Each successful step you take, moves you forward.
The road you may be on can sometimes open up to different paths. Left or right, just forge ahead on your own path, at your own cadence, because you’ll inevitably come across opportunities for more career growth and advancement.