Charles Henderson

Charles Henderson

Global Head of X-Force Red


Austin, TX USA

The key to a successful career is charting new directions, going in a different way, and doing things differently.


By Roadtrip Nation

Charles Henderson

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My road in life has been direct.
As a kid, most of his friends didn’t have computers, so when his father brought one home one day, he was completely fascinated.
At one point, his mom even told him, “You’ll never get anywhere if you just play on that computer all day.”
Even when he was in college, he assumed he wouldn’t find a fulfilling career path in tech because everything seemed to be centered around writing code.
While he understood how to write code, and respected his classmates who were building new software, he was always much more interested in breaking things.
However, he’d never seen a career path for “breakers” until later after college, when someone introduced him to a small company that was doing penetration testing.
He felt like he’d finally found his people, his community of fellow “breakers”; even today, he says his team’s mantra is, “If you can build it, we can break it.”
Says he’s still drawn to penetration testing all these years later because every day presents a new, interesting challenge.
He draws similarities between the field of cybersecurity and the pursuit of career “success”: neither has a finish line where success is achieved because success is an ongoing practice.
Keep following my journey


High School
The University of Texas at Austin


Global Head of X-Force Red

I am considered an "ethical hacker", essentially I get paid to think like a bad guy.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Problem Solving

Day to Day

My team, IBM X-Force Red, finds the ways to hack businesses before the bad guys. I specialize in network, application, physical, and device penetration testing as well as vulnerability research. I also occasionally do public speaking or media events on subjects relating to security testing and incident response.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

You need to be able to do the research and stay on the cutting edge by always being up to date on what is coming next. Always be willing to chart a new direction.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

Independent study is key to succeeding in cybersecurity. Learn how to code, but don't worry about being great at it.


The Noise I Shed

From Family:

"You'll never get anywhere if all you do is play on that computer all day. "

Challenges I Overcame

Death and Loss

Interviewed By

Life Hackers

Life Hackers

Cybersecurity Roadtrip