Recruiting for cybersecurity: an interview with our Senior Director of Talent Acquisition
It’s Week Two of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and this week the theme is focused on educating and recruiting for cybersecurity careers. With that in mind, I sat down with George Randle, Forcepoint’s senior director of Talent Acquisition, to get his thoughts on the subject.
Sarah Vela: Tell me about yourself.
George Randle: I’ve been in talent acquisition since the late 1990s in all kinds of roles, beginning as a general recruiter. For the last six to eight years I’ve been in global roles leading talent acquisition for medium to large companies. I joined Forcepoint in June of this year.
SV: What made you want to join Forcepoint?
GR: Forcepoint had a very compelling story. Serendipitously, I was listening to a podcast while driving to Colorado and it was about industries of the future and critical areas that were going to develop over time, and cybersecurity was top of the list. When I moved back to Austin from NYC I immediately knew of this company here in town and reached out to the CHRO. Everything just seemed to fall into place to come lead talent acquisition here.
SV: this is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and this week the conversations are about educating people in preparation for careers both at cybersecurity companies and in all sorts of other vertical industries. What do you think drives people to join a company like Forcepoint or to start a career in cybersecurity?
GR: I think it’s probably two things. One, it’s an area that just seems to be more rapidly evolving from a software/hardware point of view. If you’re in the technology space, cybersecurity is literally the leading edge. Secondly, it’s very topical. With people seeing news of the breaches of data at major companies, security is top of mind. I think those two things have collided, driving more people or at least piquing their interest that they should be looking at ways to protect others and protect themselves. Plus it’s just a fascinating field. So we find a ton of people interested in doing it, and it’s a matter of picking up the best and the brightest to fit the right roles.
SV: What are some of those roles? I think people aren’t always clear what a job in cybersecurity really entails. Are there some that are maybe less obvious?
GR: People tend to think cybersecurity is simply a matter of keeping software secure and keeping the bugs out so no one can hack into it. But you have to take that a step further and realize that what you’re building to protect against starts with humans. So that means understanding how humans interact with technology, how companies gather data, and how that’s changing at a rapid pace. If you understand human behavior and psychology, and you combine that with analytics and statistics, that is so important to cybersecurity and especially to Forcepoint.
SV: What recommendations would you have to folks who are just starting out in college and are interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity? Are there any gaps in education or experience that you see on the recruitment side?
GR: There’s any number of things. We hire software engineers – and those paths are relatively evident. Where I think people are missing out is they don’t spend a lot of time with big data. Because of our ability to access and process untold amounts of data into decision making and design processes, a lot of people will stray away from analytics and math and will just focus on software and hardware, and not have an understanding that it’s the connection point of all of those things that would really advance their career. That’s especially true here at Forcepoint.
SV: Diversity is a big topic these days in tech and outside of it. Women and people of color in general are underrepresented in the field of cybersecurity. What can we do as companies, as HR organizations, and as educators to make minorities more aware of the opportunities within cybersecurity?
GR: In a company like Forcepoint where human behavior drives so much of what we do and what we build, diversity of thought and diversity of experience is absolutely critical in the hiring process. I think we’re one of those industries where diversity could really take off. We face a challenge in recruiting where women and people of color are not growing up in the technology fields. So it’s important for us to demonstrate how we value and how we make the best of that diversity of thought, experience and upbringing.
SV: What are you most excited about in the next year or two for Forcepoint?
GR: I get pretty jazzed about my own department and about recruiting, because I know what we’re already building. Going into 2019, combining the strength of a really strong talent acquisition team with a really powerful marketing department, we will really be competing for the top talent. They’ll know our brand, we’ll have very strong and thorough assessment programs that help us attract, assess, and eventually hire the best people out there to help protect others from the bad behaviors in the world.
SV: Thanks George for taking the time to sit down with me, and we look forward to the next few quarters of growth.
GR: My pleasure! Thank you very much.