Tetra Defense values a well-rounded approach when it comes to cybersecurity. Preparing for cyberattacks, responding to incidents, and creating unique solutions are all important separately, but they are far more effective when combined. To that effect, we learn from Wesley Gill, Vice President of Product, as he describes his path from mechanical engineering to software development.
” Our overall mission is to secure as many people as we can, and having a software development team to address both incident response and cyber risk management concerns is how we do that as quickly as possible.”
How did your career begin?
In college, Mechanical Engineering is where I started. Towards my third year of college, I noticed my older brother Brian, a computer science major, met a lot success during the “.com” boom in San Francisco. Through his experience, he encouraged me to pursue a double-major in computer science, despite being over halfway done with school. It was a tough decision, but looking back, I’m glad I did it because it opened a lot more doors.
After college, I ended up using my Mechanical Engineering experience first. I went to work for an appliance company in its engineering department, where I first met Scott Holewinski. During our time there, and in collaboration with our teammates at the time, we were able to find some projects that required unique software applications. While these projects didn’t make the bulk of our work, I really enjoyed them and always kept this interest in mind. After a few years, I went on to work for the State of Wisconsin in their automated case management system known as CCAP (Consolidated Court Automation Programs). There, I was a software developer full-time. I eventually gravitated towards software development because my talents were stronger there and I liked how rapidly things can be developed.
What first piqued your interest in cybersecurity?
Around that time, my brothers Brian and Tyler started Gillware Data Recovery, now Tetra’s sister company. There were some unforeseen technical challenges in its beginning that I first, then Scott, jumped on board to solve. As the business needs changed, I eventually led Gillware Data Services, an online file backup software and service. Most of the tools we created under this umbrella were purchased following a merger, where I stayed for the following three years.
While I do not have a background that’s exclusively cybersecurity, per see, I view this as an advantage. I work closely with our team of cybersecurity and forensics experts to identify challenges our clients are facing and then work with our development team to create substantive solutions. This is my first time really focusing on cybersecurity, and it’s fascinating.
What is an average day like for you?
On the software development team, our typical days include a morning meeting at 9:30 am sharp. This is pretty common in the software development world; known as a “daily stand-up.” It’s imperative to keep everyone in-sync on what work has been completed, what work lies ahead, and what challenges we foresee. We really benefit from these meetings considering three of our teammates work remotely full-time, and many of us have been working remotely for the past few months as well. The analogy I like to use to describe our overall workflow is that it’s similar to building a house: First, you buy the land. Then, you draw up plans for the house. Take several more steps of planning and design. Once it’s time for construction, the house usually goes up pretty quickly. Our overall mission is to secure as many people as we can, and having a software development team to address both incident response and cyber risk management concerns is how we do that as quickly as possible.
Any advice for aspiring cybersecurity professionals?
I’m an engineer at heart. I love diving into technical issues that force you to learn quickly. That’s probably the biggest piece of advice that I can give: Be a life-long learner. Some resources I use include online video training classes from Udemy and PluralSight. The courses are inexpensive, you can get introduced to subjects quickly, and learn a lot on top of that. In a recent example, I learned the ins and outs of OAuth and JWT and understand in detail how we’re leveraging it to secure our apps.
A non-work related question: How do you like to spend your free time?
I stay active with my family outside of work whenever possible. My wife and our two boys enjoy hiking, cooking, and visiting the farmers market together when we can. I’m also involved in the baseball teams my sons play on within their schools, serving on the Board of Directors for their Little League, and coach most seasons. Fun fact, my sons are Scouts in the oldest Boy Scout Troop in Wisconsin, and we plan to take trips to the Boundary Waters within that organization as well. Most of the non-work activities I do don’t involve a screen.