What It Takes to Be a Cyber Elite

A Commitment to Growth

Nicholas Wood, a talent director in the firm’s National Cyber Platform, directs cyber-specific professional development programs like capture-the-flag exercises, advanced technical training, and academic opportunities. These programs help talented cyber professionals continuously upskill in complex, niche, and emerging tradecraft, ultimately preparing them to tackle advanced, national security challenges.

Nicholas knows the importance of this work firsthand—he too has taken advantage of the firm’s resources to grow his skills. This growth ultimately enabled him to support some of the toughest technical challenges impacting national security, including “tracking nation-state adversaries’ malicious intent and ethically breaching systems to identify vulnerabilities,” he explains.

This commitment to growth is part of what it takes to become a cyber elite. And it’s a big reason Booz Allen consistently invests in the people within its discovery capability through investments in training programs in areas like cloud, threat hunting, DevSecOps, and computer network operations. “Booz Allen is committed to advancing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of our people to stay ahead of changes in technology and adversary tradecraft,” says Derek Noppenberger, a senior vice president in the firm’s National Cyber Platform. “This fuels a team that delivers the right capabilities at the right time, every time. The result: technical excellence and highly impactful mission outcomes that enable our clients to maintain a competitive advantage over adversaries.”

A Diverse Set of Skills

To become a true cyber expert, “treat your career portfolio like a stock portfolio and diversify your skills,” recommends Jason Vann, a digital forensics lead. “Your career will flourish if you continue to expand in your weakest areas.” He says it’s important to ensure you have strong knowledge in three core areas: networking, operating systems, and programming. “Knowledgeable employers don’t care that you know how to run Rapid7’s penetration testing software Metasploit if you don’t understand the operating systems and networks that you’re trying to traverse.”  

Eylia Gaitan, a cyber forensics analyst, agrees. “In this discipline, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling back,” she says. Eylia brought 10 years of experience to the firm—and continued to grow that experience to become a top-tier cyber specialist. In addition to other development opportunities, she used Booz Allen’s FlexEd and TechX tuition reimbursement programs to complete her Ph.D. in information technology.

Cybersecurity is a fast-moving field. It’s imperative to find a company that provides resources to advance skills in areas like network attack, defense, and exploitation," adds Eylia. “Booz Allen caters to innovation and uses the creativity of individuals to propel both the individual and the mission forward.”

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