Award-winning cyber and non-profit executive Mari Galloway shared her thoughts on the current state of the tech industry, the pros and cons of government and private sector jobs, and what aspiring tech professionals need to know.
What made you want to pursue a career in technology?
I actually wanted to be an architect growing up. Building cities and structures was always something I enjoyed and during my learning; we used technology to render drawings and things like that.
I also remember growing up as one of the few families that had various technology tools around the home as my parents were heavy in tech in the military. My stepdad was in communications and my mom was a radio operator, so it kind of came naturally.
I also like the challenge of it all. I like to solve puzzles and build, and the IT and cyber industry allow you to do just that — solve challenges.
What is it like to work in the tech industry for the government?
I haven’t worked in the government space in a little bit, but I got my start there as a government contractor turned federal employee. Tech in the government was pretty cool. You were exposed to so many different elements within the government space.
My first role was a network engineer for National Geospatial Agency — helping manage their interim data center. This was a very cool project because it was my first rodeo into different classification levels for data, and just having the ability to get hands-on with various technologies.
What I did like about working with the government was the ability to learn new things. Because a lot of the systems within the government are “old school,” we were able to introduce new technology to bring those agencies into the future and provide better security for our nation.
Don’t get me wrong though, there are cons to working with the government, which in some instances is why I choose to make a change and go to the private sector. One thing that I now realize is the same across the board is the time it takes to get new initiatives up and running. In some places, the processes would take months if not years to get implemented, and by the time they are, technology has advanced, the original people on the project may no longer be there, and things just stall.
Overall, though, working in tech for the government can be a lucrative role and can help anyone reach their career and life goals.
Where do you see the tech industry moving in the next 10 years?
This is such a big question. In the last three years so much has changed, I can only imagine what the next 10 years will look like. A few things we will see increased is the reduction of the physical perimeter and a significant move to the cloud, something we are seeing now. I also see advanced AI and machine learning capabilities. I’d love to see a bigger push to incorporate security at the beginning of development vs later down the line.
What is something you would tell the younger generations about pursuing a career in IT?
To the younger generation: Be curious. Be innovative. There will be plenty of opportunity to showcase your skills and make an impact with the work you do. Ask for help. Your support system is super important.