What I do:
What are my skills? Are we speaking of my wizardry on the soccer field?
Probably not - I broke my hand in 2008 during a game and haven't played since.
What are my professional skills? We all have something in
life that we hold a passion for. In my case, it's technology, specifically
To me, technology is what I love. As the saying goes, "If you love what you
do, you'll never work a day in your life!"
earned a Master of Science in Technology Project Management with a
specialization in Information Systems Security from the NSA 4011/4014e certified
program at the University of Houston's College of Technology. I also hold
the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) IT Security
I'm the Technology Manager for The Liberty Group - an executive
recruitment and staffing firm with offices in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
This means I'm
responsible for not only the data network and external website, but also the
phone systems, faxes, and anything else the bosses can think of when the word
"technology" comes to mind. A copy of my
in Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) format is available for download. I also have a
copy in HTML format.
I am a technologist. I wasn't always working in the IT field,
but I've always been involved with computers. My first computer was a Texas
Instruments TI86 that I fiddled around with while living in Corpus Christi,
Texas. Then when I attended high school on an Army base in Japan, I took
programming classes. I had a great PC back then, it was an Apple IIe. I
graduated from high school and moved to San Marcos, Texas. I changed my major
while attending Southwest Texas State University because I wanted to take more
computer-related courses. I remember how empty the School's computer labs were
while I was working in them and thought to myself, "Am I the only one who knows
what a great tool the PC is?" But even after all that, I never pictured myself
as making a career in computers. Instead, I wanted to go to Law School.
During my senior year of college, I worked as an intern at the Texas Attorney
General's Office, Consumer Protection Division, Insurance Practices Section.
This peaked my interest in the Law. So, after graduating from Southwest with a
Bachelors of Science in Applied Sociology, I took a job as a legal research
assistant during the day while attending classes at Southwestern Paralegal
Institute at night. I earned a Paralegal Certificate in September 1994. After
that, I worked several contract paralegal jobs until the City of Houston's Legal
Department gave me an opportunity and offered me a full time position as a Legal
Assistant. I will always be grateful to Alberta D. Johnson, the attorney who
gave me a job when I had minimal experience as a Legal Assistant. I told myself
that I'd work at the City while attending classes at South Texas College of Law.
But the more I worked in the legal field, the more I realized that I didn't want
to be a lawyer - the world hates lawyers and it has too many of them! One day,
it came to me - find a job working with computers. I earned the Legal
Department's 1996 Most Innovative Award for my creation and implementation of a
Deed Restrictions database (using Corel Paradox software). While at the City,
I'd started out as a Legal Assistant, but by the time I'd left in September
1999, I was spending time doing doing network support and also creating and
maintaining the Legal Department's web site. I want to thank J.R. Lopez for
giving me the opportunity to learn about networking. One of the toughest things
I've ever had to do was convince the City Attorney and his Assistants the value
of a Departmental web site. It was 1997 and the main City of Houston web site
was barren and didn't even have a section for the Legal Department other than a
contact phone number. But thanks to Berta Mejia (she's now the Presiding Judge
for the City's Municipal Courts) who encouraged me and saw the intrinsic value
of the Legal Department having an Internet presence, I was given the go ahead to
put together a site. I'd never done anything like that before but my attitude
was to do my best and the rest would work itself out. Obviously the
Internet is an essential part of every public organization. I'm proud to
say that some of the forms I created back in 1997 are still in use on the Legal
Department's website to this day.
Sometime in 1998, I decided that I didn't want to be a lawyer and so I went back
to school (again). This time I started taking classes at Houston Community
College. I earned an Associates of Applied Science in Computer Science
Technology in August 2002 and was an Honors Graduate. Completing my course work took longer than I had
anticipated because sometimes classes just weren't available. In July 2001, I
passed the CompTIA Network + certification exam. At the beginning
of 2009, I decided to put my nose to the grindstone again for another
certification. I prepared for six months for the Certified Information
Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam and passed it in late June.
I did it as a way of pushing myself professionally. My goal is to find an
opportunity where IT Security (or Information Assurance as the federal
government likes to call it) is my primary responsibility.
I feel compelled to mention Covenant Technology Services. David Robertson (he is
the firm's managing partner), offered me my first opportunity doing IT work. My
job involved things such as helping a user open an email attachment, configuring
software on servers, installing hubs & switches, budgeting for information
systems purchases, technical writing, and drafting & presenting a proposal for a
wireless network solution. I spent time at multiple client sites throughout the
Houston area on a weekly basis. It was interesting work because each day brought
new challenges in different network environments. One thing I can say about
Covenant is that things were never boring. But when the economy went south in
2001 and Covenant lost clients, I was laid off. Getting laid off is never easy.
But I had known that something was going to happen because I'd seen all the
clients that Covenant lost so I was hoarding cash in case I didn't have a pay
check coming in. As my Grandpa Kieth Fennell used to say, "Always pay yourself
Graduate School! Oh, how I thought I was done with school. But no, I'm a glutton
for punishment so went back for one more degree (is three enough?). I was a graduate student at the
University of Houston's College of Technology. In August 2006, I earned a Master of
Science in Technology Project Management with a specialization in Information
Systems Security. I graduated with a GPA
From July 2001 to May 2004, I worked at National Oilwell Varco in the Network
Operations Center doing remote support. It was interesting work because they
have facilities & personal scattered in all parts of the U.S. & Canada, Europe,
the Middle East and Asia. The best part of that job were the people I work with.
They are not your typical computer types. If you saw this group out on the
street, you would be more likely to assume that they were animal trainers or
even a game show host (Steve K.). What did I do for National Oilwell Varco?
Anything and everything (virtually) having to do with information technology. My
focus was on end user computing - things like configuring desktop and notebook
computers, enterprise servers, and the like. In May 2004, my boss moved me to
another facility. I was part of a three-person crew responsible for five (5)
facilities located in North and West Houston with approximately 500 end users. I
also administered the IT Department's help desk software (GWI Software's
c.Support application). When I left National Oilwell Varco, I was doing more
systems administration, alot of work administering the help desk software (150
IT personnel spread around the World used it), and working on a special project
involving thin client computing for the Distribution Business Unit's 160
locations. I left the company in early 2006 because a unique opportunity to finish my graduate
studies EARLY came up. Remember - Fortune Favors the Bold!
My fascination with computers used to drive my wife crazy! I had quite a few
different computers as part of my home network - I was running Microsoft Windows
and various Linux distros like openSUSE & Fedora at one time. You ask why
Linux? Why not? Open Standards are the future of information technology.
I've even convinced my wife to use my dual-boot Acer notebook running Windows XP and OpenSUSE 10.1.
My wife uses a Windows desktop and an Apple laptop.
I know that in a Microsoft world, the mention of Linux is heresy! But the more I
learn about information technology, the more I'm convinced that open standards
are the future. I don't mean for Linux
to replace Windows, just work side-by-side with it - think of the Novell -
Microsoft deal. The days of closed proprietary operating systems &
applications are numbered! My graduate
research project at the University of Houston delved into this issue.
But I respect Microsoft enough to have attend their
TechEd 2007 conference in Orlando and if I can work it, I plan on attending
TechEd 2010 because it will be held in New Orleans. In 2008 (my employer
paid for me to go) and 2009 (I paid for me to go), I attended INTEROP in Las
Vegas. I had great fun and learned alot both times.
So, what is my ultimate goal when it comes to my career? I've been asked many
times what my ideal job would be. Freedom is the key I'm looking for -
plus an open mind.
I do have some ideas about the direction that my career will take, especially
when it comes to IT Security. I'd like a "C" level job in an organization
- think Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or Chief Information Officer
(CIO). Cyber security and protecting the nation's critical infrastructure
are areas of interest to me.
served from 1998 through 2006 in the United States Naval Reserves.
I was honorably discharged in 2006. You ask what is it that I did in the Naval Reserves? Well, I
was an Intelligence Specialist. You might have all kinds of ideas in your
head as to what that
entailed, but to tell you the truth, it wasn't what you thought. Instead, it
involves analytical thinking, patients, and most of all the ability to piece
together seemingly unrelated items and build them into a cohesive picture of what someone
else is doing, or is going to do. What did I have to go through to become a
Naval Reserve Intelligence Specialist? I'm glad you asked.
The first requirement is to have a bachelor's degree - the major is unimportant.
Then I had to take an aptitude test. I obvious scored well on it and was
selected to go onto the next phase - the interview. I meet with a Naval
Intelligence Officer and a Senior JNCO and they asked me lots of questions. I
didn't know that answers to lots of them, but that's okay because they didn't
expect me to know. They wanted to see how I would react to certain questions.
They wanted to determine if I was a bullshit artist. If I had been, that would
have been the end of the road for me. In the Intelligence business, there is no
room for bullshit - the Truth is paramount. Once I was cleared to join the Unit,
I had to attend Advanced Pay Grade school - which is actually just a mini-boot
camp for people like me with no prior experience in the military. After that, I
spent several months in a class room learning the finer points of being an
Intelligence Specialist. After that, I attended "A" School. Here, I
received my polish in the Intelligence business. It's about a 2 year process and
out of a class of 25, only about 4 made it. I was Sailor of the Quarter
for the First Quarter Calendar Year 2003 and received a Letter of
Commendation from the Commanding Officer. I received training in
Information Assurance (IA), Defense In Depth, Information Operations
Fundamentals, Active Defense, Computer Network Defense, DoD Information
Assurance Awareness, and the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Open Source
Information System (OSIS) Train-the-Trainer course. I earned the following
- Global War on Terror - Service
- Joint Meritorious Unit Award
- Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Naval Reserve Meritorious Service
- National Defense Service
- Rifleman with Expert
- Pistol Shot with Expert
Obviously the world has changed since September 11, 2001. It is the duty of
every member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America to hunt down
and DESTROY our enemies. And we will succeed.
We (and by that I mean our political leaders) can not ignore some of the gripes
that those outside of the United States (our Allies in Europe and Asia) have
against us. Because of my travels outside of North America, I at least have an
experienced what others think about us. Some see the U.S. as a bully (Panama &
Iraq) and a hypocrite (the subject of nuclear weapons comes to mind). I think
that we, as Americans, need to take a look at our foreign policy and make a
genuine effort to understand why others hate us so much. Now some of this hatred
comes from America being the land of opportunity (humans tend to hate those
things that they can not be a part of). Others see American culture as trying to
wipe out their own. The French will do the exact opposite of America even if it
meant mass suicide just so that they could say they stood up to America. Only
future generations will determine how history judges our America's current actions.