Michael's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Cybersecurity

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Washington, DC

MICHAEL ECHOLS

CEO
International Association of Certified ISAOs

“Understand what bothers you, understand what gets you down, then build a box around it...The funny part about that is, that's exactly what we should be doing in cybersecurity.”

INTERESTS:

Business Technology

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Perseverance Self-Reflection Transitions Doubt Hard Work Family Acceptance Confidence Education Experience

FOUNDATION:

Learning and Being Challenged

TAGS:

community, confidence, doubt, education, engineering, family, hard work, high school, obstacles, pain, passion, perseverance, plans, poor, principles, scholarship, success, support, technology, values

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Grew up “dirt poor” in Alabama, but luckily, he earned a scholarship to a very prestigious private high school that set him up for a successful college experience.
  • Originally, he worked in engineering; he owned his own company up until 9/11, when the stock market crash drove his company into the ground.
  • He had to start his career path over again, and the only job he could get was working as a TSA screener at the airport.
  • Clients he’d previously worked with would come through the airport; they were shocked to see him working as a screener, and treated him like he’d had a fall from grace.
  • He says that feeding off of something painful or discomforting with give you the fire you need to keep going; his experiences as a screener motivated him to work his way out of that position.
  • Within six months, he’d been promoted to a position at TSA headquarters; while there, he developed an interoperability for technology systems at the 2004 Super Bowl.
  • But after developing that majorly successful system, he actually felt like he had to fight to prove himself even harder, so he went back to school to get a master’s in business administration.
  • He’s since held prominent positions in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and worked closely with former president Barack Obama to encourage cyberthreat information sharing.

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