Companies Hiring, Executive Feature

Here’s What It Takes to Work in Cybersecurity, According to the CTO of ManTech

It’s all over the news, being buzzed about from Silicon Valley to Washington D.C. — cybersecurity. Our daily lives, economic vitality, and national security depend on a stable, safe, and resilient information technology. And ManTech is at the forefront of the fight.

ManTech was founded in 1968 to provide advanced technological services to the United States Government. Starting with just a single contract with the U.S. Navy, the company has grown to become a multi-billion-dollar enterprise influencing the strategies, innovations and applications of cybersecurity in the U.S. and beyond.

To gain insight into the fast-growing industry of cybersecurity and what the pros look for in job applicants, we spoke to Srini N. Iyer, Sr. Vice President and Chief Technology Officer ManTech Mission Solutions and Services (MSS) Group. Iyer brings over 25 years of experience in developing complex enterprise solutions in healthcare, financial, telecom, and defense sectors. From the Department of Defense to the private sector, he’s seen it all.

Interested in protecting the integrity of networks, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access? Keep reading to learn how to break into this elite industry and work at ManTech.

Glassdoor: ManTech’s mission of “Securing the future” is a very big job. How would you describe ManTech’s over 8,000-person workforce?

Srini N. Iyer: ManTech is a mission-focused company. We have a very diverse workforce who understand the critical nature of the missions we support to protect our Nation. Our team is technically talented, at the same time has a very strong functional and domain expertise in the areas we support. We are the leading provider of cybersecurity services to Federal, DOD and Intelligence Community. We have been consistently rated as the best company for Veterans. We are the #1 provider of insider threat services to the US Government.

Glassdoor: ManTech is more than cybersecurity. What are the different fields and teams that you are hiring for?

Srini N. Iyer: This is an exciting time to be at ManTech! We have been having a spectacular growth in new business over the past few years. We have won some really large, long-term programs that require a very diverse technical skillset and capabilities. Some of the areas include agile software development, DevOps, mobile application development, UI/UX, data analytics, data fusion, social network analysis, IT modernization, service delivery, cloud migrations, network optimization. We have open positions both across the continental US and globally.

Glassdoor: While half of your employees have a military background, what sorts of backgrounds do the other 50 percent come from? What types of diverse backgrounds do employees come from?

Srini N. Iyer: Our new business growth has been a blessing. We have been able to attract some of the top talent in the industry. Our employees come to us from other (larger) system integrators, commercial companies, small businesses, and startups. We have a healthy mix of technologists working with functional and domain experts in a specific area to solve complex and challenging problems for our customers.

Glassdoor: What makes a candidates a good fit for ManTech? What skills or traits are you looking for?

Srini N. Iyer: We are looking for out-of-the-box thinkers. Candidates who are willing to push the envelope and not take the status quo for an answer.  We gravitate towards candidates who are committed to solving some of the toughest problems faced by our customers in protecting our country. Candidates with a passion in their field or area of expertise. Candidates who are willing to learn.

Glassdoor: Given the full spectrum of information security roles at ManTech, what are the core elements of the interview process? What can candidates expect from the experience?

Srini N. Iyer: Candidates typically start with a phone screen with a recruiter who is talking them not only to ensure they have the right experience for the role but to ensure that the role we’re considering them for aligns with their long-term career interest.  We go through multiple rounds of interviews. In the first round, we evaluate the candidate’s technical skills and capabilities. This could be a one-on-one or a panel interview with a team of technologists. At the next round, we have important stakeholders meet with the candidate to evaluate functional and domain knowledge. If needed, we bring the candidate in for a follow-up interview to evaluate other relevant soft skills. Throughout the process we expect candidates to be interviewing us as well.  We want to ensure that new employees coming on board know what to expect and are truly excited for their roles.

Glassdoor: What questions do you personally like to ask candidates you interview with?

Srini N. Iyer: Typically, I provide a sample task, scenario or problem during my interviews. I’d like to see how the candidate thinks on their feet. I’d also like to see how they approach the problem, understand their logical and analytical skills, along with their technical capabilities. I’ve been known to offer up my whiteboard so candidates can also draw out their concepts and solutions as they are explaining them.

Glassdoor: What are 2 to 3 red flags that turn you off to a candidate? What are traits that go against ManTech’s values and mission?

Srini N. Iyer: Someone who’s not a self-starter or a go-getter, essentially waiting to be told what to do next. Someone not passionate about their field or area of expertise. Someone who tries to oversell their skills/capabilities. ManTech is all about supporting our customer’s mission and protecting our country. We are all about collaboration – working within and across teams, sharing information. We are not looking for individual heroes, we’re looking for superstars who thrive in team environments.

Glassdoor: There have been many companies shifting towards hiring for skills as opposed to experience. What is ManTech’s approach to skills-based hiring? How much on-the-job training is available?

Srini N. Iyer: Due to the success in our business growth, we have had the need to bring in both skills and experience to support our customers. By staying close to our customers and anticipating their needs we resort to skills-based hiring. Third-party certifications and ability to stay current on certifications is a requirement for certain critical positions. In those scenarios, we will look for skills-based hiring. We also provide a significant amount of on-the-job training. There are over 7,000 courses offered at ManTech University. We are partnered with Purdue Global University to offer tailored technical degree programs. One of the benefits of working at ManTech is that candidates have the ability to attain fully paid master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, and soon Data Analytics.

Glassdoor: It is critical to achieve diversity in fields such as cybersecurity, IT and software engineering.  How are dynamic women thriving at ManTech?  What examples can you share about teams led by women and the opportunities available?  How is ManTech focused on building a diverse team?

Srini N. Iyer: We have a fairly large representation of women and minorities in leadership positions across the company. On one of our large managed services and enterprise IT transformation program, ManTech has an exceptional female program manager and more than half the leadership team is either women or minorities.  In March 2018, we conducted a Women in Leadership Panel, where key women leaders across the company provided their insights and guidance to employees.  This was hosted by our CFO Judy Bjornas and other panelists included Bonnie Cook, EVP for Operations, and Bobbie Shamblin, Vice President of HR and Talent Acquisition.  Attaining insight from diverse groups of people enables ManTech to seek opportunities to attain and engage with diverse groups to provide stronger solutions for our customers.

Glassdoor: Lastly, what brought you to ManTech? What was it about the company or the challenge that really attracted you to the role?

Srini N. Iyer: I spent my initial years in the commercial industry (telco, finance and healthcare). I then worked at a large system integrator for many years. What brought me to ManTech was their leadership and vision to move up the value chain to pursue more complex and challenging solution development work. I have now been with ManTech for three years and am absolutely loving every minute – working with some of the smartest people in the industry with a common goal of helping solve our nation’s toughest problems.

 

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