Dan O'Callaghan, CISO, Sinclair College
What was your first job?
When I was 11, I delivered newspapers in Chelsea, MA. It was a walking route with lots of multi-family tenement units and many stairs.
Did you always want to work in IT?
I adopted IT as an end-user looking to improve efficiency. I was Enlisted in the USAF as a Surgical Tech after High School. While stationed at Wright-Patt, a contractor was engaged to “computerize surgical logistics”. I volunteered as a liaison and was appointed “Terminal Area Security Officer” (mainframe environment). For the next 20 years, I had multiple duty assignments. Some of my duties included working on computer-security related operations and systems management.
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Never stop learning and working to improve. Early in my military career, a supervisor advised that upon every new assignment, take time to really learn the job, look for areas that need improvement, then gain the expertise required and drive implementation of the needed fix. The “dot-com boom” era drove my interest in what is now called cybersecurity. One of the things that initially attracted me to Sinclair College is its motto—“Find the need and endeavor to meet it.” It really is a core philosophy.
What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders?
Never forget that technology is at its core a service. Without end-users, there is no need. This especially pertains to cybersecurity—the security controls have to be effectively balanced between requirements of the business and the nature of the data/infrastructure requiring protection.