(Part 1) Veterans continue to be in high demand for careers in tech and cybersecurity, but why are there barriers between veteran talent and these great jobs? The employment and staffing landscape is more complex than ever -- luckily, we're here to help sort through it all.
We welcomed cybersecurity and tech staffing expert Ben Pechacek from Identify Security to the show to discuss how to bridge the gap.
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Today on Wisconsin veterans forward, cyber security is a huge issue right now. I just learned just now from our guest today, told me as we were chatting before I went live, that there's a huge increase in the amount of cyber threats that are being levied against our country and the people in our country and the business is located in our country. A huge increase in 80% of those is, are coming from central Asia coming from Russia. Like isn't that insane. And of course, obviously that's very apropo for what, what we're what's happening in the world today is very relevant. Um , but also as a chamber of commerce, we have a workforce summit coming up next week Tuesday, and I'll be sure to share a link about that. Uh, basically the event is connecting the , uh, the, the employers and the, the , the com companies who are seeking veteran talent with , uh , people who want to help veterans get there. You know, they have, we have like staffing firms, universities, ERGs. We have corporations looking to , uh, you know, looking to acquire veteran talent. And then we have like the third end of the triangle, which is the actual employees, but the summit actually deals with just those first two ends of the triangle. And it's it's. So it's super targeted and focused on staffing, pipeline builders and talent acquisition, and a huge demand right now is for tech jobs. And in, in , in particular cybersecurity to Johns . And now what we've found is veterans are generally speaking. Obviously that's casting a pretty wide net, but generally speaking veterans are quite adept in tech related fields and in particular cybersecurity. And yet, even though there is a higher demand than ever before for , for cybersecurity positions, there's a high demand for veteran acquisition, acquisition of veteran talent in the workforce, especially in corporate America. And there is an acknowledgement that veterans are adept at filling those needs at a high level, there's still a gap, right? We still have corporations and employers who are seeking veteran talent, and we still have unemployed and underemployed veterans. We have, we have two people, two entities that are, that are saying, Hey, I like you. And he owns, oh , I like you. And there's like a river, a Fior , or a valley or something in between them. They wanna connect. Why can't they connect? Why can't we bring them together? How do we build a bridge over the Gorge or the Fjord or whatever it is? What is it that is keeping those two parties from connecting, how they both wanna connect and how do we bridge that gap? And that's why I'm really excited for our guest today. Ben PE check is with identify security. It's a firm that does two things, which are very , very specific to this topic. They do tech staffing and they do cybersecurity. So here we are wanting to talk about staffing and employment pipelines. You know, we really want to talk about it, especially with , uh , you know, on the heels of this workforce summit coming up next week on Tuesday. There's another plug for it. We , we wanna talk about the , the staffing aspect, but he's also a subject matter expert when it comes to cybersecurity. So talk about a person who knows what it's gonna take to build that bridge over whatever geographic feature, the river, the mountain, the whatever that's in between these two entities that we wanna connect. I'm really excited to talk to Ben and we're gonna get into it right after this . You are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. I veterans chamber.org . Yo, let's go. Uh , before I bring Ben in, for those of you that are watching, who are watching rather on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Twitter, now we're not doing Twitter anymore. We decided to take a little turn, Twitter's making a resurgence. So, you know, we're gonna put some, put some more regs in the Twitter basket Twitch, maybe again someday , but nah , not really the right audience for us yet. A growing the whole streaming Twitch thing is, is growing. So we'll see who knows, but whatever, wherever you're watching drop us line, say, howdy , tell us where you're from. Tell us your veteran status. Who did you serve for? And when, and if you have any questions about, you know, if you are a veteran or you have friends who are veterans , uh, that who you think would be good at, you know, a career in tech or looking to get out of in an unemployment or an underemployment situation and are looking for some insights, man, we'll hook you up. Just drop us a comment. We want to engage with you on this. But , uh, first and foremost, really happy to , uh , introduce my friend army veteran, Ben Peche . How are you? My friend?Speaker 2:
Oh , I'm doing well with it . Thanks Adam. I really appreciate you having me onSpeaker 1:
You. Betcha man. And, and it's, it's so cool that you have like the, the perfect experience to talk about this topic. And I bet we could talk. I mean, we have like half hour, 45 minutes stops, but I , I bet we can talk about this for hours, right? I , I think this is really your bread and butter. Isn't that ?Speaker 2:
Yeah. I could talk about this till I'm blue in the face. I mean, my background is, is primarily e-commerce that's the world I came from before I cross into cybersecurity. Um, I made my first jump into cybersecurity in 2015 when I became a certified ethical hacker. Now the only reason why I did that program and it's a very challenging program, very tough test . It , it sucks , um, was to keep contractors honest, because what I noticed in e-commerce when I was maybe supervising the construction of a new website and it was time to do penetration test or vulnerability assessments to assess how secure a website was. We had to use an outside firm and they would test our website. They would look at our structure, our code, they would try break into it and they would present , uh , a report. And then that report would have suggestions, recommendations. And then there'd be a section of their code remediations, which is something that required to maintain , uh , compliance or to fix a problem. That's what a remediation is. Well, I would look at a remediation and I'd ask myself this, this doesn't quite make complete sense to me. So being the savvy individual, I am, I'm like, you know, I need to educate myself. So I decided to teach myself the C program and I went through it, I got the book, I, the little , uh , DVD and I watched everything and I experimented took me about a year. And then I took the test and I passed it . I was surprised. Um, and then I had another vulnerability assessment and I looked at that report and I saw, okay, there are two IPS here. Two IP addresses, public that are, were told and require 20 hours of remediation each cuz they're vulnerable. And it's a critical vulnerability. Well then I pulled up those IPS and I noticed that there are no open ports in those IPS and yes, I'm speaking tech geek right now, but I'll explain that. Don't worry. Um, well ISpeaker 1:
Think I'm putting two and two together. Yeah. Let me guess this, this firm wanted you to hire them to fix the remediations.Speaker 2:
Well, that's how it works. You know, they report and then they remedied . Well ,Speaker 1:
They just saying that they were, that they were issues that needed to be fixed expensive issues. That, that weren't issues.Speaker 2:
They gave me two IP addresses that they said were critical vulnerabilities and 20 hours vulnerability. I looked at the IPS and there were no open ports on those IPS, which means that that IP address cannot communicate to the outside world. So even though it's a public facing address, it's like your mailbox, your mailbox has your address on it at home. And your mailman puts the mail in there. Well, what if I locked that mailbox, your mail, carrier's just gonna drive away. Um, so I looked at it and said, why is there 20 hours of remediation required on an IP address that cannot communicate with the outside world? And they looked at me like I had a lobster crawl outta my ear and were like , uh , and they didn't have an answer for me. I'm like, you know , uh , let me digest this report and I'll get back to you. And then we fired that firm and hired a different one. Now, when I was , uh, recruited over , uh , to this company, when I came aboard , um, I kind of had to reawaken some of those old habits and some of those old things. And , um, I've always had a passion for veterans in the workforce and I've always had a passion for veterans in it field for a number of reasons which I'll get into later. Um, but when I crossed over here , um , one of the things that identify security has done so well is to identify , uh, those types of contractors or those types of outsourced services like security as a service that , uh, basically we try to figure out what they're doing wrong. We try to do it better. So we're split 50 50 half of our , uh , business is , uh , the consulting aspect and the other half is staffing. Uh, we fill very niche, specific security roles for the cybersecurity world. Um , we work with fortune 3000 and above clients. So I everyone's doing a hundred million a year in revenue or more so it's, it's , it's really nice that we , but on the consulting side of things, what we did was we allowed companies to buy buckets of time from us and then split it up however they want. So , uh, that gives the client freedom to adapt our services for what they need. So it's kind of like security a carte , if that makes sense.Speaker 1:
Right. And then with that business model, you, you know, you're , you're not really in a position to do, like what had happened to you before, right ? Uh , where, you know, you might overblow something just to get a contract or , you know, get paid to fix something. That's not a problem. I wanna , you know, I was thinking, how many companies do you think they were able to pull the wool over their eyes on,Speaker 2:
Say someone like you to it out ,Speaker 2:
I would say honestly, close to 40 to 50%Speaker 1:
I would, I would, I would think that's probably a conservative estimate. Uh , just because , um, some of it isn't necessarily malicious. Some of it's just lack of, of , of knowledge it's like, right . Well, I don't know that this is , uh, I don't know about this solution, but I know this solution, this solution costs half as half as much. This solution is $200,000, but that's what I know. So that's what I'm gonna sell. Well, it's , it's not all malicious.Speaker 1:
Right? And it , it just, it just hearkens to the fact , uh , of how important it is these days to have at least one person on your team, no matter the size of your business, who has not, or certifications in tech , in it in cybersecurity, at least a base level knowledge of this wide variety of skills and disciplines, to be able to say that doesn't look right to not only to protect you, but then also , uh , to save you money and, and protect you from people trying to take advantage of you. So it , it absolutely . Why is it that you, you know, I've , we've talked before, you've, you've mentioned that, you know, veterans are really O overarching leap , generally speaking, quite adept,Speaker 2:
Ideally suited is what I would call ideallySpeaker 1:
Suit . Okay . Very good. So, so what is it about the veteran community? What is it that they're , they're kind of share shared values or experiences that make them so good in tech related fields?Speaker 2:
Well, first to , to clarify, I think military veterans are great at any industry. Uh , always increase the status quo. I mean, that's just how we are. Uh , it's just proven fact, as far as I'm concerned and I'm being , I'm not being egotistical or narcissistic at all, I promise you , um, but consider this. So I'm combat arm soldier. I was a cavalry scout born and I was , uh , then I reclass to infantry. I'm a combat arm , soldier , uh, culture tells us that I'm supposed to be dumb and know how to kill people and break their stuff. That's basically what they think of a combat arm . Soldier. I don't think of a common arm soldier that way, just like any soldier. What I think of them as is a dynamic individual that is highly adaptable, very resourceful, and is always looking to increase their knowledge. Cause if you think about it as, as a soldier, airman , Marine, guardian, whatever the case may be , um, you're putting into a role and you may not be familiar with it. What does the military tell you to do, get familiar with it, get your SmartBook out. Talk to someone, whatever. When I was a new NCO and I would go to a new unit, I'd find the lowest ranking soldier, someone who just graduated basic training that was qualified on a piece of equipment that I wasn't qualified on. I'd say, come here , private. I need you to teach me. And that is a good leader, right there at is what the military breeds are. Good leaders now in the it world, think of it this way. Uh , the threat landscape is ever changing it's it's. And in this day and age right now where we have so many attacks coming on a daily basis, you know, generally from one part of the world , uh, but um, nothing is gonna be the same from one day to the next. What better mind exists that a military veteran that has had to live that for their entire career, whether you serve for four years or 30 years , uh, they're just wired that way. Mm . Um, I've had, I have , uh , three veterans I'm working now. Cause part of what I do is I , I will mentor veterans that are transitioning from active duty in a civilian world , not just cybersecurity, this is my own personal project. Um, and the thing that I, that I really is a sensitive topic, but we all know it. Military veterans are horrible at writing resumes. We just are. Yeah.Speaker 1:
Are you , are you trying to say that veterans are not good at communicating their skills and experiences to potential civilian employers?Speaker 2:
I am absolutely saying that, but I'm , there's an op there's an opposite side to the same coin. Not only are military veterans poor at telling their story, but HR recruiters, many of them , not all, many of them don't necessarily have it wired in their brain. That military service is a job. It is a career. It is a professional experience. They don'tSpeaker 1:
Treated as , as legit work experience. They assume leap , you were in combat arms. If you were infantry or anything, anything even related to it, they assume you spent your whole career rolling around in the desert with a rifle. And that is extent of your experience. So it's not worth . Yeah, it's, it's a , it is , it is a prejudice against veterans and people are using it a lot stereotyping against no way. When I say when I say that, but it is real man.Speaker 2:
Yeah. That, and , and , and the thing about it is sometimes it's actually, I shouldn't say sometimes the vast majority of the time, it's simply a lack of education. Of course, the employer or the HR professional just doesn't understand. So most of the time, what they do, like you said, a common arm , soldier, they look at your resume and they go, oh, you did 20 years in the military. Thank you for your service. Okay. So tell me about the time when you were an Uber driver. Oh , well, I only did that for extra money when I got active of duty. I , I , I , I have three college degrees. I've got this, I got this. TellSpeaker 1:
Me about the time you worked at a kiosk in high school before you joined the military.Speaker 2:
Yeah. And then it's , and then the question I've , I've experienced this personally, you know, my military resume, you know , I did a lot of cool stuff in the military. I did a lot of common armor stuff, but I also did some, a lot of leadership development courses and some other education , um, you know , uh , you know, most, most notably , uh , I was on the honor guard for three years. So I did military funerals. I did 1,279 military funerals in my time on the honor guard. Uh ,Speaker 1:
And that's no joke. You wanna talk about somebody who has attention to detail and precision and excellence, just pouring outta every single pour of your body.Speaker 2:
That's exactly the point I'm getting at. You take someone that has been diverse in their career. Okay. You're a combat arm . Soldier you're primary function is to kill people and break their things. Got it. But what else have you done? Oh, you maintained physical fitness. Well, that's good. You obviously cared about the whole picture. You were holistic in nature. Um, did you do NCO professional development? Oh, good. You went to, you went to BOC or , uh , WC or whatever they call it. Now I'm a little rusty on my acronyms. I retired in 20. I'm a little outta practice. Um , dude , I ,Speaker 1:
Yeah, I hear that. ButSpeaker 2:
All, all of those experiences go into creating the whole person. And while a resume, a resume can be rewritten. That's no big deal, not worried about that. The most important thing that every veteran needs to understand, especially those that wanna work in cybersecurity is develop and tell your story.Speaker 1:
Good stuff. Gonna keep this going in the very next episode, it's already there waiting for you of Wisconsin veterans forward . Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit email@example.com . Don't forget to scribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.