Dirce Hernandez: Breaking into Cybersecurity

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About the Guest:

In this episode of "The Phillip Wylie Show," Dirce Hernandez joins as a featured guest. With a notable career spanning over 17 years in the cybersecurity industry, Dirce stands as a first-generation college graduate hailing from South Texas. He has worked across various sectors including state government, higher education, healthcare, and financial services. His diverse experience includes roles at TxDOT, University of Texas at Brownsville, Wells Fargo, USAA, and currently at Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company. Apart from his professional endeavors, Dirce is known for his dedication to helping others, sharing knowledge, and mentoring aspiring cybersecurity professionals.

Episode Summary:

In this insightful conversation with Phillip Wylie, cybersecurity veteran Dirce Hernandez shares his extensive experience in the industry, shedding light on the intricacies of breaking into the field. This episode is a trove of knowledge for anyone aspiring to launch or enhance their career in cybersecurity.

The discussion opens with Dirce's origin story, tracing his journey from state government positions to his ventures into the enterprise-level cybersecurity landscape. The conversation pivots to analyze how the job market within cybersecurity has evolved and the current challenges faced by individuals attempting to enter the field. Drawing upon Dirce's own transitions among sectors, the episode explores the value of diversified experience and the importance of soft skills like report writing and communication.

Key Takeaways:

  • Networking is vital for breaking into cybersecurity, with channels like LinkedIn and B-Sides conferences being highly beneficial.
  • Understanding GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) can make aspiring professionals more marketable, even if their goal is to work in offensive security.
  • The ability to write a coherent and comprehensive report is crucial, as the deliverable often carries significant weight in business environments.
  • Soft skills, including communication and the art of conveying technical information to non-technical stakeholders, are indispensable in cybersecurity roles.
  • Persistence and patience are key when seeking to start a career in cybersecurity, as potential barriers often occur in job requisitions and HR filtering.

Notable Quotes:

  • "But like I mentioned, there's so much red tape. And I consider that red tape that affects the entry level folks that are trying to get in there and get those jobs."
  • "You're talking to CISOs from, you know, financial services. Right. I'm talking to the CISO at AIG, previously the CSO at USAA, and, you know, having those discussions and just being one of them."
  • "If you can't write the report to showcase and align to the work you did, it's not gonna go anywhere."
  • "You have to really understand and put yourself in another's shoes. And there's a reason why there's different areas."
  • "So it's not easy, but ultimately, some people don't even think about communication, don't think about critical thinking and technical writing and all those things that kind of play into making a really good actionable deliverable from a documentation perspective."


Dirce Hernandez: Breaking into Cybersecurity
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