As part of its celebration of Black History Month, the University welcomed two leaders in the cybersecurity field to its Cyber Legends web series to discuss the importance of promoting diversity and encouraging individuals from underrepresented groups to pursue careers in the field.
February 12, 2021
The third installment of the University’s Connecticut Institute of Technology’s Cyber Legends series welcomed Timothy Youngblood, vice president and chief information security officer (CISO) for the McDonald’s Corporation, and Devon Bryan, managing director and CISO of MUFG Union Bank, in honor of Black History Month.
Visiting campus virtually as part of the University’s celebration of Black History Month, both leaders shared their advice on how to prepare for working in cybersecurity in a world that continues to go remote. They discussed how to inspire younger generations to get excited about cybersecurity and cyber careers. In the position of CISO, both Youngblood and Bryan are challenged to create a secure environment for a remote workforce that is larger than ever.
“The disrupted norm that we all have to operate under is no different than what Tim or any other CISO faces, irrespective of the industry,” said Bryan.
Joining the discussion was Destiny Ray ’24, who asked the speakers how they became interested in a career in cybersecurity, especially since it is not a field that is as commonly discussed in the Black community.
For Youngblood, it was the movie “Wargames” that sparked his interest in the field, and for Bryan, it was another movie: “Hackers.” Both Youngblood and Bryan say the passion they saw from those in the field and wonder that came from working in the cyber world were instilled in them at an early age. Planting the seed at a young age, they said, is crucial to raising awareness and interest in the field of cybersecurity.
“Without awareness we’re not going to be able to recruit more people to the field,” said Bryan.
‘Getting your foot in the door’
In 2014, Bryan co-founded the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP), whose primary focus is to help increase the number of students in the field from underrepresented groups, encouraging them to pursue paths in cybersecurity by funding scholarship opportunities. By creating these opportunities and providing mentoring opportunities, training, and other support, more diversity is being fostered across the field of cybersecurity.
“One of the challenges to overcome for all groups that are underrepresented in the industry is getting your foot in the door,” said Youngblood.
Making connections, getting involved in interest groups, and building relationships within the industry helped him begin his career in cybersecurity, he said.
Youngblood’s final words of wisdom to students were to “stay encouraged, stay hungry, and, ultimately, you control your own destiny.”
Sarah Kispert '22 is a forensic science major at the University of New Haven and a cybersecurity marketing intern. She is the daughter of Karl Kispert, host of the Cyber Legends Series.