Chuck Brooks, President and Consultant, Brooks Consulting International & Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University

Chuck Brooks, President of Brooks Consulting International, is a globally recognized thought leader and subject matter expert Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. LinkedIn named Chuck as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn.” He was named as “Cybersecurity Person of the Year by Cyber Express, as one of the world’s “10 Best Cyber Security and Technology Experts” by Best Rated. Chuck received two senior Presidential appointments, including as Legislative Director of The Science & Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security and as Special Assistant to the Director of Voice of America. He has also served in executive roles for Fortune 500 companies. Chuck has an MA in International relations from the University of Chicago and a BA in Political Science from DePauw University.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Chuck shared his insights on the future of cybersecurity landscape, his career trajectory, what sets Brooks Consulting International apart from other market competitors, the key qualities required to be a successful security leader, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

What are your thoughts on where the cybersecurity industry is heading?

The Cybersecurity industry is heading toward the right paths and it along many divergent paths. First, there is more focus by the C-Suite on the importance pf protecting digital assets. It is being taken more seriously in budgets, responsibilities and in planning. Compliance and policy recommendations from The US Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s CISA, and in the EU, the GDPR have reinforced the need for enhanced cybersecurity and privacy. Private/public cooperation is expanding as is global cooperation. Also, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and early quantum computing algorithms are impacting the landscape in terms of automation, threat detection, and analytics. The Cloud is becoming more competitive and secure, and managed cybersecurity providers are helping close gaps for small and medium businesses that do not have the resources to hire expertise and procure top of the line solutions. However, having said all that, it is still a game of catch up as internet connectivity continues to expand. In addition, the sophistication of criminal hackers (also employing AI and ML tech) that are often abetted by nation states is becoming more brazen and successful with ransomware and DDoS attacks. Cybersecurity is in a state of flux and there will always be gaps to fill but the challenges and opportunities for the cybersecurity industry certainly have not been lessened.

Chuck, please tell us a bit about yourself, background, and areas of interest.

I am a President and Consultant with over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity, emerging technologies, marketing, business development, and government relations. I help Fortune 1000 clients, organizations, small businesses, and start-ups achieve their strategic goals and grow their market share.

I also serve as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, where I teach graduate courses on risk management, homeland security, and cybersecurity, and design a certificate course on Blockchain technologies.

In my career I have received presidential appointments for executive service by two U.S. Presidents and served as the first Director of Legislative Affairs at the DHS Science & Technology Directorate. I have also served in executive roles for companies such as General Dynamics, Rapiscan, and Xerox. I have been named Cybersecurity Person of the Year, Cybersecurity Marketer of the Year, a Top Cybersecurity SME to Follow, and a Top 5 Tech person to follow by LinkedIn. I am passionate about advancing innovation, security, and education in the digital age.

As a thought leader, blogger, and event speaker, I have briefed the G20 on energy cybersecurity, the US Embassy to the Holy See and Vatican on global cybersecurity and have been a keynote speaker at many conferences across the globe. I have also written and published over 250 articles on topics of cybersecurity, emerging tech, and innovation. Some of my clients have included companies such as AT&T, IBM, Intel, Rockwell Automation, Ivanti, Blackberry/Cylance, Xerox, Juniper Networks, Netscout, and General Dynamics. Also in media, I am a contributor to Forbes, The Washington Post, Dark Reading, Homeland Security Today, Skytop Media, GovCon, Barrons, The Hill, and Federal Times on cybersecurity and emerging technologies topics. For my thought leadership activities, I have outreach to 104,000 plus followers on LinkedIn, run a dozen LI groups, including the two largest in homeland security and I have my own newsletter, Security & Tech Trends, which has 48,000 subscribers. I also have a wide following on Twitter (19,000 plus followers), and Facebook (5,000 friends).

Some of my other activities include being a Subject Matter Expert to The Homeland Defense and Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC), a Department of Defense (DoD) sponsored organization through the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), as a featured presenter at USTRANSCOM on cybersecurity threats to transportation, as a featured presenter to the FBI and the National Academy of Sciences on Life Sciences Cybersecurity. I have also served on working group with the National Academy of Sciences on digital transformation for the United States Air Force. I am an Advisory Board Member for the Quantum Security Alliance, and former Technology Partner Advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I was also served as an auxiliary police officer for the city of Arlington, Virgina.

In my academic studies, I have an MA in International relations from the University of Chicago, a BA in Political Science from DePauw University, and a Certificate in International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law.

Tell us about the services offered by Brooks Consulting International. What sets it apart from other market competitors?

My company plans to fill a niche for clients as a vehicle for “outsourced government relations/marketing/business development”. My thought leadership writings on cybersecurity and emerging tech have helped shape the public policy debate globally, in the US Federal Government, academia, and on Capitol Hill. My mantra is providing the strategic alchemy of marketing, influence PR, business development & government relations that is effective, affordable, and sustainable for clients.

Specifically, my services include:

  • Global Brand Ambassador for Digital Influencer Outreach (social media, industry, organizations, media)
  • SME Cybersecurity Advisor
  • Business Development
  • Government Relations
  •  Strategic Partnering Outreach
  •  Strategic Planning & Strategy Preparation Expertise on doing business with Government (Federal, State & Local and International in the United States)
  • Public Relations and Public Affairs
  • Corporate Blogging, Podcasts, Webinars, Keynote speeches

My responsibilities are to address my client’ s unique and various needs under one roof. This includes strategy, strategic partnering, business development and especially marketing. The subject areas of homeland security have always been a passion for me. This includes a focus on the subsets of cyber security, big data analytics, and CBRNE and of course various emerging security technologies. I also have a strong interest in the field of global political risk that is now the focus of many hedge funds. I do recognize that one person cannot be an expert in all issues and supplement my efforts with a network of experts that work with me on other (economic, energy, health) issues.

A successful consultant nowadays is really a Renaissance man (or woman) and needs to be adaptive and multi-skilled in processes, relationship building, and more often than not, strategic partnering. I like the growing aspect of wearing several hats as a consultant.

My friend and colleague, Stephane Nappo, 2018 Global CISO of the Year wrote a very nice recommendation (that is a great plug for my consulting firm too) on my background “Chuck is a brilliant strategist, technologist and thought leader in cybersecurity and emerging technologies, Chuck is a rare talent among the high-stature technology executives. He is not only a renowned social media influencer to follow, but also the expert you can rely on and listen to confidently. Chuck’s multidisciplinary experience enables him to speak about strategic and operational aspects of business, technology, and cybersecurity in an integrated way.  Equally comfortable in writing for the press and public speaking, Chuck is an outstanding communicator, a clear thinker, and an empowering reliable peer and colleague. I express my sincerest gratitude and extend him my unreserved recommendation.”

You are also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. Tell us about the programs taught by you and their importance in today’s digital era.

I serve as Adjunct Faculty at the Graduate in Cybersecurity Risk Management and the Graduate Applied Intelligence Programs at Georgetown University. In those programs I teach graduate level courses in Risk Management, Homeland Security Technologies, Emerging Technologies, and also was a contributor to a certificate program for Blockchain management. In addition, my role includes designing courses and speaking at public events representing the University.

I designed, helped create, and teach as faculty “Disruptive Technology & Organization Change” course that is now being offered via the Graduate Cybersecurity Risk Management Program at Georgetown University. The course was designed to provide foundational knowledge about types, policy, strategies, applications, organizational & societal impact, security risks, and current management approaches related to emerging and disruptive technologies.

I really enjoy sharing insights on my perspectives on emerging technologies and on cybersecurity to my students. My students are early on in their careers but both professional and academically talented and will serve as the next generation of leaders. It is an honor to help teach and mentor them.

As a passionate cyber security thought leader, we would like to know what motivates you to keep pushing ahead every day in the security field?

It doesn’t take much to motivate me as a thought leader as security has driven my professional career, both in the physical and digital realms. The security challenge to our evolving digital ecosystem and immense and always in a state of flux. That is a lot to address and hopefully mitigate. My writings in FORBES and other publications reflect those sentiments. We are now entering a new era of emerging “connected” technologies that blend engineering, computing algorithms, and culture. This journey is characterized by technological innovation and a greater need for security and privacy. It is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of scientific and technological advancements that will change the human condition. That is a motivating factor in itself!

Do you feel cybersecurity professionals are difficult to recruit and retain given the current workforce shortage? If so, why?

The shortage of a trained cybersecurity workforce is a global problem. The firm Cybersecurity Ventures estimates there will be 3.5 million unfilled global cybersecurity jobs and growing. The competition for filling those slots in the private sector among companies is fierce. It is even more of an issue for the public sector who cannot match the compensation packages paid by companies for top talent.

Most governments around the globe are on the right track in investing in the cybersecurity workforce and innovative programs are providing dividends. Public/private partnering and collaboration is essential to continue the momentum. Government and industry need to continue to work closely together to cultivate and train the next generation of cybersecurity technicians. Retooling and upskilling of employees can help mitigate cybersecurity workforce shortages and build new leadership expertise. Identifying cybersecurity workforce requirements will become even more of a necessity as digital connectivity exponentially grows, and emerging cyber technologies permeate the evolving landscape.

New ideas and solutions are continually needed in the important challenge to help us be more cyber-safe.

What does it take to be a successful security leader?

Security leaders need to have a combination of academic training, real world work experience, and a deep understanding of the impact of emerging technologies on the cyber realm. They should be able to understand the dynamics of collaboration between government and industry. They also have to have initiative to play a role in educating and promoting cybersecurity awareness online and at venues and conferences via speaking and writing.

How do you stay up to date with industry news and updates regarding information security?

Staying updated, especially with threat intelligence and cybersecurity industry developments are a daily quest. There are many avenues to do so, by joining security groups on LinkedIn, attending conferences, and especially working in the field with clients to help evaluate their vulnerabilities and priorities. For me my involvement on task forces, advisory boards, and organizations helps keep me updated. Also, when I write or speak, which is weekly, I conduct my own research to continually add to my knowledge base. In cybersecurity and in security in general, there are always new innovations, threats, and things to learn.

What are your passions outside of work?

I love to travel the globe, I am a foodie, and enjoy staying fit. I was a former competitive powerlifter so working out has been a lifelong activity for me.

What is your biggest goal? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I see myself doing exactly what I am doing now. I really enjoy my faculty role at Georgetown and running my consulting company. Retirement would be boring. I would like more opportunities for leisure travel though.

What is the one piece of advice that you can share with aspiring cybersecurity professionals?

Continually learn to better your own expertise, share your insights often, and help serve those who are in need of being secure, both professionally and as a passion.

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