Post Tags: culture, employee spotlight
“I went from accounting to cybersecurity. I had to break in with a crowbar,” jokes Fredrick “Ricky” Brown of his professional transition from accounting spreadsheets to cyber threat hunting within the Army.
By this he explained that he needed to demonstrate his knowledge and ability beyond the more conventional credentials because at the beginning his cybersecurity credentials were self-taught. Fortunately, the Army recognized he had the mental fortitude and intellectual capability – some might say talent — for cybersecurity. What we spotted immediately when he joined NetCentrics was his generosity, focus, and good humor. He’s been a crucial part of NetCentrics’ work at USCG (along with Jesse Hernandez and Kelby Hinson), implementing considerable time and cost savings for USCG, earning himself and his teammates Rudis and Trident recognition from the USCG. He has also been an instrumental part of NetCentrics’ Wraith development team, too.
But let’s back up a minute. Who is Ricky, and how did he come to NetCentrics?
A Soldier First and Always
Ricky had a role model on day one: his mother, a Marine. “I have tremendous respect for her. She was a single parent who displayed an unparalleled work ethic. She taught me the two rules I keep in my own house today: be truthful and be respectful.” He was born in California but spent most of his childhood in New York City.
As a kid he spent time with his maternal grandfather, who had moved from Missouri to the Big Apple in pursuit of business and making his mark. His grandfather compiled an assortment of small businesses and Ricky often drove around the city with him on errands. “Driving around with him are among my best memories,” says Ricky fondly.
His mother encouraged him to join the Marines when he finished high school, but the Army made a better offer. He studied accounting in college because it seemed like a useful skill to have (“it is,” he confirms) but “I was always an engineer at heart.” His time in the service solidified another personal value: being a solider.
“I’m a soldier first, even today.” He says he takes this obligation seriously and is still involved with the Army National Guard. At work he is the definition of zeal, passion, and commitment. “A mentor told me early on that I needed to do the job that if someone called me at 2 am to do it, I would be grinning. I do that today.”
NetCentrics and the USCG, and His Ramen Noodles
“I wasn’t sure I was a fit for NetCentrics at first,” reveals Ricky. His manager was tough on him in the interview because while his Army background was extensive and impressive, he did not fit the cookie-cutter outline the role required. But when the offer was extended Ricky decided to go “ALL IN.”
It turned out to be the best decision for all parties. The USCG’s program experienced 80% growth, and response time to cyber threats dramatically improved. This is a direct result from the contributions that Ricky’s team has steadfastly delivered. The NetCentrics’ CPT (Cyber Protection Team) Master Analyst provided capabilities normally have a five-year cycle, but were delivered in under one year. At a moment’s notice the NetCentrics team always stands, ready for the next challenge. Chelsea Brooks, the Program Manager who hired Ricky speaks enthusiastically about his contributions. As she revealed in our company newsletter recently:
“I was asked to condense Rick to two or three sentences. Suffice it to say I struggled. Reason being, Rick is a force to be reckoned with. He is a technical powerhouse, a natural leader, and whatever he does, he does with a smile. We are fortunate to have him on Team NetCentrics.”
Ricky says he’s in the right place, and with the right fit to keep his forward-looking brain challenged and his passion for service engaged. Lately, though, his biggest rewards come from his “ramen noodles,” the term he uses to warmly describes his “instant family”.
Ricky’s partner has two young daughters, ages 6 and 8. “I call them my ‘bonus kids’,” says Ricky, and he’s developed a fatherly bond with both. Now, they are working on some 3-D printing projects at a local makerspace. “The older of the two might be an engineer herself one day!” gushes Ricky proudly. He says they regularly request hugs (“huggies!”) upon arrival home “which I find completely disarming,” he admits. His partner and his “ramen noodles” are a real joy in his life.