Threatonomics

From Military Service to Cybersecurity Experts

Spotlighting Resilience Veterans

by Laura Hiserodt , Staff Writer
Published

In today’s digital world, cyber risk is not just a threat to business operations but to entire countries. 

Critical infrastructures such as energy, healthcare, and government facilities are prime targets as cyberwarfare tactics become increasingly interjected into modern conflicts. As the threat of cyber attacks grows in frequency and severity, the need for cybersecurity professionals who can understand and manage this risk grows in tandem.  

A recent article written by Forbes Council Member Hari Ravichandran noted that the cybersecurity industry has grown by 43% from 2021 to 2022,  which is significantly higher than the 18% average of most other industries. This has led to a shortage of over 3 million cybersecurity professionals. Ravichandran believes veterans could be the solution to this talent gap. At Resilience, we wholeheartedly agree. 

Veterans are equipped with critical thinking, strong leadership, the ability to react quickly under pressure, and other skills that are highly applicable in cybersecurity. The same level of determination and collaboration required to execute or strategize a mission is necessary to successfully implement protocols, train recruits, and build a strong defense strategy that fosters cyber resilience.

To do our part in helping veterans find meaningful career opportunities within cyber, Resilience is collaborating with VetsinTech. VetsinTech is a non-profit organization that supports current and returning veterans with reintegration services by connecting them to the national technology ecosystem. They bring together a tech-specific network, resources, and programs for veterans interested in education, entrepreneurship, and employment. This collaboration will provide us with future opportunities to help veterans  translate their military skills into tactical cybersecurity experience. 

Spotlighting Resilience Veterans

Resilience was founded by veterans from multiple branches of the U.S. Military. Their experience defending the nation translated to their interest in cybersecurity as the digital age and rise of cyber warfare continuously evolve the cyber battlefield. Their focus, drive, and leadership have led Resilience to expand its solution across the globe. 

This Veteran’s Day, we are highlighting the service and achievements of five veterans who have impacted the way Resilience provides value to our clients and the cyber landscape at large.  

Vishaal “V8” Hariprasad, CEO and Co-Founder  

At a young age, Vishaal Hariprasad had a passion for aviation and a desire to serve his country. As the first class to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy after 9/11, he quickly learned that 21st-century threats required new and innovative answers. Serving as a Cyber Operations Officer, V8 was at the forefront of working to develop innovative solutions to help troops deployed in the fight against Al Qaeda. “It was often very much like a startup. We were matching amazing technology against complex problems and building solutions to track down the bad guys and keep our troops safe.” said V8. “I got to appreciate the mindset of understanding your adversaries and what it takes to drive your innovations faster than theirs to accomplish your mission.” 

Since 2012, V8 has served as a Cyberwarfare Operations Officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. In 2016, he co-founded Resilience to tackle both the technical and financial challenges of cyber he saw during his time working in the government and private sector. “Veterans have the tenacity, leadership, and ability to think outside the box that is required to put something out into the world that solves an old challenge in a new way,” said V8. “That was our goal with Resilience–making life more challenging for criminals and bad actors by helping good people (and businesses). Cyber is an essential part of modern society and, therefore, national security. Being able to play a positive role in shaping this arena truly excites me.”

Raj Shah, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder 

Raj Shah joined the U.S. Air Force after finishing college, where he served as an F-16 pilot.  After completing several combat tours overseas, he returned to the U.S. to advise the United States Cyber Command on cyber and policy as a part-time reservist. Raj saw how the Pentagon was often stymied in moving quickly to bring innovative solutions to the battlefield and, after successfully exiting his first startup to Palo Alto Networks, was brought in to lead the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). “I’ve always been passionate about the global mission of defending cyber infrastructure,” said Shah. “Working with Cyber Command was when I met V8, and he had a very similar desire to drive innovation into solving big problems. It’s turned out to be a great relationship, and we’ve been business partners ever since.” 

Raj turned his passion for entrepreneurship into one of the first national security-focused venture capital firms, Shield Capital. Shield recently closed its first fund, totaling $186M. He credits his success in the world of cybersecurity and entrepreneurship to the incredible tenacity instilled in him through his time in the military. “Tenacity is key as an entrepreneur, as a veteran, in any leadership role,” said Raj. “Start-ups are hard. You are the perennial underdog. You must have strong determination and perseverance to make something that will be really successful.”  

Andrew O’Neill, Director of Capacity Partnerships 

Andrew O’Neill began his military career after being inspired by a family legacy of military service. He specialized in Air Defense Artillery, where he operated as a paratrooper. When he entered the private sector, he was drawn to insurance broking as it allowed him to specialize in the dynamic field of cyber risk. “My career in cyber has allowed me to channel my drive to contribute to the defense of our nation in a unique and meaningful way,” said Andrew. “While I may not be in a military role like my earlier experience, I find tremendous fulfillment in my work supporting clients.”

Andrew credits his military experience for providing leadership, discipline, problem-solving, adaptability, effective communication, and teamwork.These skills have been critical to giving him a leg up on his work ethic as he transitioned to the private sector and his life in general. “The mission of Resilience allows me to protect our insured clients from the ever-evolving threats posed by cybercriminals,” said Andrew. “It’s immensely satisfying to know that my efforts are helping to safeguard those we serve.”

Mike McNerney, Senior Vice President of Security 

Mike McNerney served as a Munitions Officer and Military Deception Officer in the U.S. Air Force. He transitioned to civilian service as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department before ultimately becoming a Cyber Policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mike was drawn to the cybersecurity industry because it gave him a chance to continue his mission of helping people. “I got an opportunity to transfer to cybersecurity and jumped on it,” said Mike. “I had a lot of on-the-job learning to do and really leaned on my skill set as a veteran to continue to serve that broader mission.”  

Mike credits his military experience with providing him with grit, determination, and leadership skills that have served him as an entrepreneur while working in the fight against cybercrime. “Most veterans today spent their time in either Iraq or Afghanistan, where accomplishing a mission was as much about learning to install irrigation systems to free villages from the Taliban-controlled drug trade as it was about actual combat,” said Mike. “Experiences like these helped form veterans who are fast problem solvers and strong leaders. Having experience diving into the unknown while under pressure is an incredible ability in cybersecurity, in any job really.” 

Simon West, Director of Customer Engagement   

Simon “Si” West served as a member of the UK Royal Marines for fifteen years. As he transitioned from the military, he turned to the family trade of working in tech. Si’s father was an IT manager, surrounding him with technology and computers from a very young age. “I’ve always had a passion for both technology and helping others,” said Si. “Going into cybersecurity felt like a natural and rewarding career path for me.”

As a veteran and cybersecurity expert, Si relies on the grit that was taught to him through his time in the Royal Marines. He accredits this to overcoming tough situations with a positive attitude and determination to get the job done. Si believes that this grit also translates into the unique ability to challenge the status quo and find solutions to complex issues. “It is important in the digital age to question what we know, even when we are wrong,” said Si. “Veterans are great at thinking outside the box when it comes to problem-solving, and they don’t let the fear of failure deter them from trying something new. To lose the ability to challenge can lead to far greater consequences than failure, and veterans know this.”

The experience, grit, and entrepreneurship of all Resilience’s veterans provide invaluable leadership for our team. This Veterans Day, and every day, we are thankful for their efforts and perseverance to help build this company and support our clients. 

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