Cody Wass, VP of Services at NetSPI, brings his near-decade of experience to the pod to talk about longevity, development, and leadership. It’s no secret that cybersecurity is in need of people. Cody’s journey from intern to VP at NetSPI has shown him the importance of training employees, creating opportunities for new graduates, and engaging teams effectively, both virtually and in person. In this episode, Cody provides the roadmap toward intentional employee investment in the ever-changing cyber industry. Be sure to subscribe to Hacker Valley Studio, the premiere cybersecurity podcast for cybersecurity professionals.
[00:00] Cyber career longevity from NetSPI intern to VP
[07:51] Putting people before process & technology at NetSPI
[15:33] Collaboration as the foundation of the cybersecurity industry
[18:13] Understanding cyber’s entry-level position problem
[24:12] Investing intentionally in employee development
Thank you to our sponsor NetSPI for bringing this security podcast to life!
For more than 2 decades, NetSPI has helped companies discover and remediate critical security issues through its platform-driven, human-delivered security test. NetSPI is much more than a pentesting company, bringing you the most comprehensive suite of offensive security solutions. Visit netspi.com/HVM to learn more.
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You’ve been at NetSPI for 9 years. When you think about a rewarding feeling in your journey at the company, what comes to mind?
Starting his journey at NetSPI as an intern, Cody has had the rare but impactful opportunity to grow alongside the company. Now, as VP of Services, looks back at the lives he’s impacted himself and the opportunities he’s had to see others grow. Employee development is a huge part of NetSPI’s success. Cody is proud to have seen newcomers join his team and become amazing practitioners over the years.
“It's really rewarding seeing people come into this industry as a fresh face with a specific skill set, to watch them grow over and see them really spread their wings, and come out the other side stronger, better, and having a skill set that you never would have imagined day one.”
NetSPI has a very unique culture and philosophy about balancing that duality between technology and people. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
People come first, before process and technology, at NetSPI. While all three elements of this sacred cyber trifecta are important, Cody and his team believe that the balance should focus on making the lives, skills, and experiences of the people at NetSPI better. Process should be taught to the people, with a focus on prosperity and consistency. Technology should be implemented intelligently, with proper training and time given to the people for the best results.
“NetSPI’s differentiator is our people, first and foremost, and then, our process and our technology. We have a ton of really cool things we're doing with tech, but the focus is always on: How can you use that tech to make a person more efficient at their job?”
How important is collaboration for you and your team at NetSPI?
Collaboration is built into the DNA of NetSPI, from how employees are trained to how NetSPI interacts with the industry around them. Cybersecurity thrives when teams, practitioners, and organizations work together for the sake of the greater good. Even though COVID and remote workers have increased the virtual footprint of NetSPI, Cody still emphasizes the importance of communication and collaboration with his team and to practitioners around the world.
“This industry we work in is super interesting. It'll never be finished; you're never going to learn everything there is about security and be able to call it done. We're far past the point where one person is going to be the expert of everything in cybersecurity.”
For anyone in a cybersecurity leadership position who wants to start to really invest in their people, what would be your recommendation on where to start?
Intentionality is vital for the success of any leader trying to invest in their employees. Cody explains that it’s one thing for leaders to want to invest in training and professional development opportunities for their team, but another thing entirely when it comes to implementation. If a leader isn’t intentional, they won’t have clear goals for investment and will risk letting implementation fall to the wayside for the sake of a budgetary line.
“Yes, we are going to be making this investment. It is going to cost us. It will cost us time, it will cost us money, but we are committed to making that investment because we know the payoff in 12 months or 18 months or 24 months is going to ultimately be worth it.”
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