Kenneth Ellington, the Senior Cybersecurity Consultant at EY and Founder of the Ellington Cyber Academy, achieves his goal of being on the Hacker Valley Studio this week. From working at Publix in college to becoming an online course instructor, Kenneth’s journey into the cyber industry has been heavily influenced by online educators like Chris and Ron. Kenneth covers barriers to entry for cyber, SOAR vs SIM, and how much further we need to go for representation in the industry. Be sure to subscribe to Hacker Valley Studio, the premiere cybersecurity podcast for cybersecurity professionals.
[00:00] Starting a cyber career at the Publix deli counter
[05:16] Fighting through introversion to become an online instructor
[11:02] Setting equitable & understandable prices for cyber courses
[15:54] Looking into the future of SOAR vs SIM to see what’s next
[19:27] Taking the chance on content creation as a new cyber professional
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What areas do you feel confident in as a new teacher, and what do you still struggle to get your footing on?
As someone newer to online teaching, having only done it for 2 years, Kenneth is confident in his communication skills, but still struggles with fully grasping new technology. On the bright side, Kenneth believes those technical skills come with time and practice, something he’s 100% willing to do. What helps him stand out as a strong teacher is something harder to learn— communication with others and de-escalating stressful situations for students.
“I worked at Publix for four years in the deli, dealing with customers, and that forced me to develop those soft skills about how to talk to people and how to communicate and how to de-escalate situations. That's how I set myself apart.”
What are some of the things that you're thinking about when it comes to setting the pricing for your course content?
No matter how his prices change or how skilled he becomes, Kenneth still believes in fair and equitable pricing for his course content. Considering his experience and expertise, Kenneth charges at least half of what I vendor might charge for similar content and knowledge. However, Kenneth doesn’t believe in thousands of dollars being spent on his courses, because he wants entry-level students like himself to be able to afford to learn.
“I'm very honest with myself, what my skill level is, and the value I bring towards it. Because I've been doing this for over two years, technically, I've gotten a pretty good gauge as to what people are willing to pay for and the value that I can bring.”
Do you have anything you’re looking to expand into with Ellington Academy?
While SOAR and SIM are Ellington Academy's bread and butter, Kenneth is looking forward to continuing to expand his expertise and scale his content. A future upcoming goal Kenneth has is giving back to the country of Jamaica, where his family is originally from. Through providing courses or recruitment opportunities, he wants to bring cyber skills to everyone.
“From a legacy perspective, I want to leave a positive mark on this world, just to make it better than when I got here. One of my big goals, I don't know if it's gonna happen, but my family is from Jamaica, so I'm hoping I can maybe put ECA there someday.”
What advice would you give to a newbie in cybersecurity looking to start making content?
Kenneth got his start at the Publix deli counter, and he understands that the beginning of someone’s cyber journey can look just like his— inexperienced but hungry for knowledge. For newcomers to the industry, Kenneth wants to reassure you that you’re never too young to teach or too old to learn. Take courses, expand your knowledge, and give back to people with less knowledge than you through accessible learning content of your own.
“Take the opportunity to try to do something new because your knowledge is valuable, no matter how much or how little that you have. Everybody can learn something from everyone. I always try to help out however I can.”
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