Former National Guard Member Fast-Tracks Career as Director of Information Security

Shidarion Clark

Company: Lannan Technologies
Job Title: Information Security Manager
Country: United States

Follow the story of Shidarion Clark, a former National Guard member who credits the CEH certification for helping him quickly rise through the ranks in cybersecurity.”I honestly didn’t see myself as Information Security Manager so quickly,” Shidarion says, who is now promoted and working as Director of Information Security, by the time this article is published. The Certified Ethical Hacker is a highly respected certification in the Department of Defense and is a must-have for anyone looking to excel in the field of cybersecurity.

C|EH took me over the top and opened way more doors than even I expected to be opened.

Tell us about your journey as a cybersecurity professional.

I started my career in cybersecurity a couple of years ago. I was in the National Guard, and cyber was like one of those niches where everything seemed so brand new and always changing. I like to think of cybersecurity as the most level playing field in IT, because you can know everything today and be a complete rookie tomorrow.

And thinking about that, I felt like I needed something challenging and rewarding, and I believe cybersecurity was the best career field for me to go into. So I started as a junior engineer, and it has slowly but surely escalated into something great thanks to EC-Council and C|EH.

What caught your attention about the C|EH program?

I would say the C|EH program is for someone who wants to understand the foundation of cybersecurity, more specifically pen testing. When it comes to ethical hacking, it’s a course that allows one to really get into the weeds, so to speak, and that’s good.

And I just appreciated the fact that, as I’m going through the material and sitting with the instructors and learning all this stuff that, it wasn’t something where I felt like,

“Oh my god, this is so overwhelming.” It was like, a lot of stuff actually made sense.

How has the C|EH benefitted your career?

So, I would say, from the beginning, when I came on as a junior engineer, I felt like I needed something that separated me from the pack, in a sense. I needed something that would allow me to prove that, hey, I’m not just reading these books and doing this stuff—I have the backing of something that’s well-renowned and well-known, especially in the DoD sector.

So I pursued C|EH for that specific reason. And once I got it, it changed things drastically because [people might say], “Okay, he has these certs here, but we don’t really know if he’s really good at this,” and I think C|EH took me over the top and opened way more doors than even I expected to be opened.

How recognized is the C|EH in your organization and the industry?

Well, I would put C|EH up there with another security cert well known in the DoD. Those certifications ensure that whomever you hire knows what they are doing and talking about. And even if they don’t, they know how to find it.

C|EH specifically, to me, wasn’t one of those certs where you just take it and, “Okay, I’m done with this knowledge, I’ll never have to apply it.” No, even just the way that you study for C|EH can be applied to everything specifically in the DoD sector, because everything can change. And trying to understand how a network is secure and how someone could possibly get into that network, I think, is why government sectors like people having that C|EH certification.

Did the C|EH help you to get higher pay, a promotion, or a job that you wanted?

Yes, C|EH definitely pushed me further along my career path. Like I said, I started as a junior engineer, which went into a network engineer, which went into cybersecurity analyst, which also turned into information security manager, which is what I do now for Lannan Technologies here in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

I think honestly, talking to a lot of the senior leaders is really what helped me stand out when they hired me. They were like, “He has the usual certs, the usual suspects, so to speak. What does he have that makes him different from everyone else?”
And when they saw,

Oh, he has the C|EH, that’s something really big in the DoD.

We deal with DoD contracts, amongst other things.” So I think once I got that certification, they were like, “Okay, we can elevate him to a different role, as opposed to what we initially wanted to hire him for.”

Because I believe that’s what C|EH stood for, to me, in a sense. It’s just one of those things that you take with yourself for life, you know what I’m saying? It elevated me to a position that I honestly didn’t see myself getting to so quickly.

But now that I’m in it, it makes sense that I can use what I learned in C|EH, understanding how to think like a bad actor, which allows me to protect our systems better.

How has the C|EH certification impacted you?

As far as the impact level is concerned, this cert was quite a challenge. I can’t lie, it was quite a challenge.

Because not only do you have the multiple-choice portion, but you also have a practical exercise that you have to go through. And once you start doing things in a practical manner, you start to understand how the world really starts to work and how things are actually implemented as opposed to the theory.

Because anybody can have a theory, but with this certification, it really pushes you to the limit of, “Okay, yeah the book says this, but not all the time will things be like this. How can you think outside the box?”

If I had to label C|EH, I would put it as an exam that makes you think outside the box on a lot of things.

Did the C|EH help you give back to the community in any way?

Yeah, I would say so. After getting the C|EH certification, I was allowed the opportunity to speak with, I guess you would say, the youth innocence.

I’m not that old myself, but I was able to talk to them about basic cyber hygiene and not only that but local businesses also when it comes down to basic cyber training in regard to strong passwords, using multi-factor authentication, things of that nature.

I believe that having that certification gives me that backing where, okay, you want me to speak about these certain elements because I hold a certification you recognize that allows me to do such things.

What was your favorite part of the C|EH program? Please explain why.

Oh, my favorite part is definitely the certification. I’m just kidding.

I would say my favorite part is the actual journey, and that’s something I would tell anybody who really wants to break into the cybersecurity and understand that it is a journey. It is not a sprint. I wouldn’t even put it as a marathon because this thing continues to go on and on and on.

There’s no end. As you get better, so do the bad actors. Everyone continues to get better. So the challenge is always there—there’s always something you have to kind of wrap your mind around, and there’s no standstill here. You can always continue to grow. You can always continue to learn.

And I think C|EH really taught me that. Specifically, my instructor, he was really great. I think his name was Dr. Reed. But he definitely helped us out when it came to understanding that cyber way of thinking, when it comes to the world in cyber.

C|EH has taken the world’s cyber thinking to another level saying, and hey, this is what it is now.
But you know, in a few years, because of the way things are going, it’s going to change, it’s going to evolve, and you need to be able to adapt to it. And I believe the C|EH is really an adaptable certification.

Do you attribute any part of your success to EC-Council? If so, do you have a message for the EC-Council team?

Yes, first of all, I would like to thank EC-Council for being able to teach such a robust subject in a very understandable manner. I understand that there’s not a lot that is stagnant within the cybersecurity element other than the fact that it’s always changing.

So to have a course that essentially hits on everything is very rare.

This cert is really taking me places that I didn’t really think I’d be able to get to because my journey is a little unique. I don’t have a bachelor’s in cybersecurity. Everything was self-taught. Everything was self-learned, and going through and meeting with instructors, joining LinkedIn groups, stuff like that. And getting something as credentialed as C|EH was a big moment for me.

So I would tell anybody that if I can do it, you can do it as well. I know it’s cliché, but it’s really the truth. When it comes down to cybersecurity, you really have to put in the effort regardless of what school you go to and what certification you hold.

Although C|EH is great, you have to continuously put in the effort and the time to get better. And if you can do that, your options will be endless.

Are you looking to break into the cybersecurity industry? Look no further than the C|EH certification. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to boost your career – get your C|EH today!

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