‘Embracing a Mindset of Lifelong Learning’: A Q&A with George Finney, New Fuel Board Member

Posted by Fuel HQ on Oct 11, 2018 11:58:00 AM

Thursday, October 11, 2018

George FinneyGeorge Finney is the chief security officer for Southern Methodist University and a new member to the Fuel Board of Directors. Finney is a licensed attorney for the state of Texas and a consummate cybersecurity professional, with three industry certifications to his name: a Certified Information Privacy Professional, a Certified Information Security Manager and a Certified Information Security Systems Professional.

We spoke with Finney to learn why he joined Fuel, what drives his passion for all things cybersecurity, trends and changes he’s observed in the industry, plus his advice for cultivating the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.    

How long have you been part of Fuel and what first interested you in joining? 

I became a Fuel member this year, although at Southern Methodist University, we've been a Palo Alto Networks customer for several years. I joined when I learned there would be a Fuel chapter meeting where local users could come together to share how they were solving problems. Fuel really brings the community together to help solve our collective challenges. 

Outside of your work at Southern Methodist University, you are a member of the Texas CISO Council, an advisory board member for SecureWorld and part of the Fuel Board of Directors. Why are you passionate about cybersecurity and what first interested you in the field? 

I got my start in technology working on computer networks. Providing solutions for security was just a natural extension of the work I had been doing. I'm a naturally curious person and figuring out how routers, servers or protocols worked helped me defend them. I think there is a really deep meaning in the work we do as security professionals – we help protect our communities, and the way we do that is through understanding them. 

How have you seen the industry change in the last five years, and what are some of the biggest trends on the horizon? 

We are always at the bleeding edge of technology in the security field. The tech we're using today didn't exist five years ago, and I think the same will be true five years from now. It is incredibly cool to be able to see things like machine learning start to make a difference in how we do our jobs. In many fields, automation is a four-letter word, but for us, we're ready to embrace it because we really want to make a difference. 

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and one theme is preparing the next generation for a career in cybersecurity. To those in the field, what is your advice for helping cultivate the next generation of security professionals? 

We have to embrace a mindset of lifelong learning in cybersecurity, because the technology is changing rapidly. That's not always easy to do and I think it asks a lot of professionals in the field – but I think that's also what attracted so many of us in the first place. We should foster this culture of curiosity in the next generation. 

As our industry grows, we become more and more specialized in the work we do each day. As new professionals rise up through the ranks, they need to have that same depth and breadth of experience, or else we run the risk of the next generation of security engineers becoming siloed. We should take on mentoring roles or share our lessons through user groups like Fuel, in order to make sure the generations to come don't forget the hard won lessons we've learned.

Interested in getting involved with Fuel at a local chapter event? Check out the Fuel Chapter events page.


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