Many undergraduate students find themselves working at hotels and restaurants to pay their rent and tuition, but Mesay Degefu found an alternative employment opportunity, working for Bank of America while he studied at Marymount University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration. He didn’t know it at the time, but his introduction into the financial world would ultimately lead him to a career in cybersecurity for the federal government.
After receiving his undergraduate degree, Mesay worked in commercial sales for Bank of America, then moved into compliance and ultimately became an operations manager. While working with the compliance control team, Mesay helped prepare the bank for audits and inspections, ensuring that the bank met the standards issued by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
After more than 10 years with Bank of America, Mesay had a developed a comprehensive understanding of fraud and banking security, and started shifting his career toward cybersecurity. While working to help the bank remain compliant and also combating the growth in various types of fraud, Mesay took several cybersecurity courses offered by Bank of America. While advances in technology brought many benefits to banking customers, Mesay realized the increased need for a strong cyber defense posture to protect customer privacy and accounts.
Mesay’s experience and expertise provided him opportunities for career growth and in 2015 he took a job with a government contractor as a Systems Administrator for the State Department. While there, he also began taking graduate courses at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). He graduated in 2016 with a Master of Science in Cybersecurity technology degree, and also earned several cyber certifications, including Security+ and Certified Authorization Professional (CAP). In 2016, Mesay joined the NetCentrics family, working as a certification and accreditation (C&A) analyst for the US Coast Guard.
Mesay has always had an interest in technology, tinkering with MS DOS, Pascal, and QBasic in high school, but he never really thought he would have a career in IT. Despite his undergraduate and master’s degrees, he’ll still tell you he’s just learning about cybersecurity. Mesay’s curiosity has brought him success in his career, and his willingness and patience to listen and learn, combined with his creative thinking and imaginative engineering help him solve cyber challenges for the Coast Guard in his current role.
Not surprisingly, Mesay is currently enrolled at UMUC to pursue his Master of Business Administration (MBA).