Charlie is an experienced security architect who has been highly involved in the planning, engineering, and implementation of enterprise-wide security programs from the ground up, leveraging technologies to improve the security posture of organizations. He is a proven cyber defender and forensic examiner with a deep understanding of compliance and vulnerability assessments. Charlie has been an effective leader with 10+ years of experience managing multifunctional teams of more than 30 IT Professionals, driving innovation at each level of the organization through the utilization and administration of new technology and processes to improve efficiency, security, and profitability.
Pursuing a life-long love of computers, Charlie built his first computer in 2001. When college came around, he started in Computer Science, but as many college students do, Charlie followed an indirect path into the field of cybersecurity. His undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in chemistry primed him for a unique perspective on how systems function. The catalyst for Charlie’s move into cybersecurity started in the Army with his transition from the infantry to the signal corps, focusing on communications and IT. He found that a lot of the same methods used to investigate a finding in science were also applicable to cybersecurity. Coupling that with his desire to be involved in a fast-paced field with endless possibilities for learning, he knew this was the field for him. Charlie found cybersecurity to be an arena in which he could continually learn something new, expand his skill set, and become a strong practitioner.
The highlight of Charlie’s career was his first compliance audit, as the auditee. He had implemented sustainable policies, procedures, and technology to change the mindset of the entire organization, leaving a lasting legacy. Having since left the organization, Charlie is confident they have all the necessary tools to remain successful moving in a positive direction.
Charlie is truly grateful for the SANS cybersecurity community, as he feels it has given him more than he imagined possible. His instructors sent him down a path of wanting to know more and be more. In this vein, Charlie decided he wanted to give back to others and be one of the arbiters of good. According to Charlie, “SANS is the best, bar none. If you want to be the best, you must surround yourself with those who are smarter than you, and SANS is that for me. They’re always challenging the status quo and giving back.”
His teaching philosophy is to make concepts easy for students to understand, breaking them down to the simplest level so every student is engaged. Having been on both sides of the fence himself, Charlie believes it’s often easy to audit, but difficult to implement. He strives to make the content relatable to any student’s situation using examples from his broad background and experience in information technology that has given him a unique perspective on audit and compliance.
Compliance, done correctly, can help an organization avoid a lot of problems in the enterprise. If the controls are implemented correctly, with the blessing of the business, a company will always be protected. Therefore, Charlie’s goal is for students to leave the classroom with a path to utilize the information presented, having more ideas for success based on the knowledge provided through the content, and be confident in applying that knowledge when they sit back down at their desk. With the broad knowledge base and some technical depth required to be successful in audit, he finds some students may shy away from this area of study. He addresses this by building on the knowledge they may or may not have and get them to a successful place by the end of the course. The tools introduced enable students to go forth and understand where to find the correct guidelines to follow and how to leverage them using many tools that already exist in an enterprise.
Charlie holds a BS in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry and an MBA with an emphasis in Cybersecurity from the University of Nevada, as well as a Master of Science in Information Security Engineering from SANS Technology Institute. In addition to his degrees, he holds twelve GIAC certifications and several other professional certifications including the CISSP. Charlie is a member of the National Guard Association of the United States and volunteers for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
In his spare time, Charlie enjoys snowboarding, traveling, playing chess, spending time with family, and mentoring others along the way. In addition, as a life-long learner, he is always attending a new course or studying for a cert or exam. He loves to read with audiobooks having become his new favorite medium.