Thursday, October 24, 2013

Interview: Active Duty to the Private Sector

Have you thought about leaving active duty for the private sector? Maybe you are about to retire and want to start a second career. For folks who have "been there, done that," there are a few words of wisdom they undoubtedly could share with active duty members.

This blog post provides a brief interview of a Colonel Barry Hensley USA (Ret.). He made the jump from active to private sector, almost overnight.

Colonel (Ret.) Hensley is currently the Executive Director for the Counter Threat Unit (CTU) at Dell Secureworks. I am fortunate not only to work with COL (Ret.) Hensley, but to have had him commission me as an Ensign in the US Navy Reserve. An extended biography can be found at the end of this interview.

NOTE: This interview was conducted via email due to his busy travel schedule.

Question:  How did you prepare for the transition?
  • It's important to determine if you are looking for another career after you separate from the military or just looking for a 9-5 job as that decision drives different decisions
  • You need to decide if you want to be on technical track or management track.  I chose best of both worlds as I lead the security research group at Dell SecureWorks
  • Based on my desire to work in the Security field after retirement, I did focus on several credibility certificates (e.g. CISSP); however, in the end practical knowledge is what really will determine your value to organizations
  • I ensured I had a thorough understanding of Threat Landscape at the time and just as important how security controls could be applied to potentially address each threat.  I realized that interview questions could be technical in nature (e.g.  what happens in OSI stack when you type, how could threat actor target the vulnerabilities in today’s internet model, how could you best defend against today’s most common vulnerabilities.)
  • I also researched the type of companies I wanted to work for and their reputation in the community (e.g. Gartner, Forrester Reports)
  • Ensured my resume translated to the commercial industry terms and thus remained relevant

Question: What things, if you had them to do over again, would you do different?
  • Take more time off between retirement and starting new job. I think I took about 2 weeks off and should have taken about 2 months

Question: What has surprised you the most about working in the private sector?
  • Private sector in many cases is more prepared to address today's cyber threats than DoD
  • The magnitude of vast experience in cyber security
  • Complexity in managing a Profit and Loss statement
  • Decision making process is often driven by consensus building across leadership teams

Question: What mistakes might someone coming off of active duty make during a transition?
  • Accepting a position before you have researched all possibilities
  • Focused too much on salary and not total compensation package (vacation time, bonus structure, stock, 401k matching, etc.)
  • Not considering the amount of travel involved in the position you accept
  • Remain in their comfort zone as a DoD Contractor

Question: What advice would you give someone who is looking to make the transition?
  • Ensure family success is #1 focus in decision making process as location, community, schools, churches, and neighbors as critical to their happiness as well.
  • Prayer was an important part in decision making process for me.

Barry Hensley is presently the Executive Director for the Counter Threat Unit (CTU)
Security Research Group at Dell SecureWorks. The CTU Research Group is comprised
of the nation’s top security experts who identify and analyze emerging cyber threats,
while developing rapid countermeasures in support of over 3,600 customers worldwide
including many of the Fortune 500.

Colonel (Ret) Barry R. Hensley was also the former Director of the Army's Global
Network Operations and Security Center (AGNOSC). While at the AGNOSC, COL
Hensley was responsible for directing the operations and defense of the Army's portion
of the Global Information Grid (GIG) consisting of over 1.2 million users. The AGNOSC
integrated key cyber functions spanning operations, intelligence, resource management,
and strategic planning for the Army while leading DoD in many critical network
security initiatives.

COL (Ret) Hensley was also the Director of Operations, Joint Task Force Global
Network Operations (JTF-GNO), Arlington. JTF-GNO directs the operations and
defense of the DoD Global Information Grid (GIG) ensuring the availability, integrity,
and security of 7 million computer systems across 3500 posts/camps/stations. COL
Hensley was responsible for the DoD’s Global Network Operations Center, guiding
actions of 64 worldwide operations and security centers (6,000+ personnel) to deliver
mission critical voice, video, and data services.

COL (Ret) Hensley served in various leadership positions within the communications
and information security career field throughout his 24-year Army career to include
assignments with United States Special Operations Command and deployments to
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Somalia, and Iraq.

Barry holds a BBA in Information Systems for Georgia Southern University, M.S. in
Telecommunication from the University of Colorado and a graduate of the National
War College. Barry was also named 2009 Georgia Southern University Alumnus of the
Year for the College of Information Technology and was named by Federal Computer
Week as a 2008 "Federal 100" winner, a select group of top executives in the Federal IT


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