Introduction to the IT Industry

Introduction to the IT industry with Steve SackLearn About the IT Industry from an Industry Veteran

From the navy to protecting digital information, Steve Sack has had his own interesting introduction to the IT industry. Right out of high school, Sack joined the United States Navy, where he spent seven years traveling the world and getting an inside look at the latest computer systems. When his time in the Navy ended, Sack started pursuing a degree at Seminole Community College but left to work at a technology company before completing his degree. Since then, he has had a long, prominent career as a systems engineer, monitoring and managing information systems and the systems used to protect them.

In his professional career, he has been a managing partner and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of PHXX, a technology solutions company, and he is currently the Vice President of IT at Red Lambda, a company that aids businesses and government agencies in keeping their data secure and their networks impenetrable.

We are pleased to share this interview with Steve Sack as he discusses what he sees as the future of the IT industry, the challenges of cybersecurity, and the most exciting part of his work.

Tell us more about your background and education. What led you into the IT industry? 

I have always been intrigued with computers and computer networks. I spent many childhood days ‘playing’ with the early computers and computer networks, trying to connect up and communicate with other like minded individuals. I joined the Navy after high school with the excitement to travel the world. My existing knowledge of computers made me the ‘go to’ guy for computer management in each office I worked in. I would be the first to be introduced to a new computer system, quickly mastering any new systems brought online. I continued my interests in the personal computer as my primary hobby. Once I discharged from the US Navy, I knew that’s what I wanted to do in the private sector.

Did your early career contribute to your success in the IT industry, and if so, how?

I was exposed to many different open and proprietary systems while in the US Navy. Some things I was exposed to in the Navy were not even realized in the private sector at that time, so I was a step ahead in seeing how these systems would benefit organizations. The importance of integrating new technology into the business world, and how it can help organizations, was obvious to me.

Can you describe what working in IT infrastructure entails for someone who may not be familiar with the field?

It’s an ever-changing landscape. You have to be constantly open to change, to learn new aspects and techniques to doing things all the time. Even if things are done a certain way for a long time, you will have to be open to doing them in a new way, a different way. Also, with IT infrastructure, there comes a great deal of teaching. Because things are constantly changing, you have to constantly explain or train people on those changes and how changes affect their daily lives.

Describe your different roles in the IT industry. Where did you start and how did you get to the management and partner levels, where you are managing several other IT employees?

I started as a help desk engineer at a software company. My healthy obsession with everything technology and my good troubleshooting skills—as well as the knowledge that technology should help an organization’s productivity (bottom line)—was the answer. The ability to communicate with all levels of people with ease was the catalyst for my professional growth. Managers felt comfortable coming to me with both their problems and their ideas. This lead into a leadership role early in my career. Larger enterprises with bigger teams came naturally. Networking Teams, Web and Marketing teams, Security Teams, all grew as technology became the corner stone of most large organizations.

As technology develops almost overnight, many companies are ramping up their protections strategies in an effort to safeguard their information from being hacked. How do the services you provide contribute to helping people or companies stay protected against computer fraud or hacking?

Data proliferation and hacking techniques are surpassing the ability to safeguard it. The industry is diligently trying to keep up with techniques to safeguard that data.

My current role has a lot to do with ‘big data’. The humongous growth of communication networks and storage networks has created a security gap. We are developing new ways of securing those networks at speeds and sizes that support today’s challenges. It is impossible to track and monitor everything that is going on in a large network. The work we are doing today, is addressing that problem.

What do you find are some of the challenging aspects to working in the IT industry?

The constant drum of change can be exciting and challenging. New technologies and techniques are introduced every day. Keeping up with these changes and the ever expanding knowledge that goes along with them is a challenge in itself.

What is the most exciting thing about the work you do?

Being able to be part of a technological revolution from the inside. Every day we see headlines of issues that are directly related to the work I do, the industry I am working in, the systems I deal with every day.

How has the cyber security field changed since you entered it?

There has always been a concern regarding security of your information assets. What has changed is the proliferation of data and the value of that data. The scale and speed of information sharing is incredible today. The hunger for data is surpassing the ability to safeguard it.

Do you believe that it’s an ideal time for people to introduce themselves to the IT industry and if so, why?

It is an absolutely great time to get into IT. We are in the middle of a technology revolution that shows no signs of slowing. No matter what specialized field—communications, software development, cybersecurity, robotics, etc.—now is the time. Specifically cybersecurity, as with a renewed focus on cybersecurity in the last few years, the need for Security Engineers is only going to increase.

From your experience managing IT employees, what qualities and skills do you think are necessary for pursuing a career in IT and network security?

I believe the best engineers are those who have a good attention to detail, very good troubleshooting skills, and the ability to communicate both technical and non-technical ideas to stakeholders.

What advice do you have for students pursuing a degree in IT or network security? How can students prepare themselves for the challenges?

I think most individuals come into the field thinking that they will be heads down working on a system or in a back room datacenter. The truth is that good communication / social skills are the most important part of a career in IT. The only way to be successful in this field is to be able to work with a team and share knowledge, understanding, and reasoning. Especially in the cybersecurity realm. I see way too many cybersecurity experts who can’t communicate in a professional way. This just diminishes their abilities to secure employment and credibility. 

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