David can be Goliath

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David can be Goliath
David can be Goliath

Unless you are a die-hard Giants or Knicks fan, you did not have a clue who Victor Cruz or Jeremy Lin were until recent events put them in the headlines. Two years ago, Cruz, a great speedster receiver who grew up in the old mill city of Paterson, N.J., went to school at the University of Massachusetts (which had never sent a receiver to the NFL), and went unclaimed at the 2010 draft. He was a walk-on at the Giants training camp in 2010 and impressed a number of coaches and a few fans who recognized his blazing speed, sure hands and great moves. The Giants ended up signing him for the league minimum $490,000.

In his first full year as a receiver, Cruz set the Giants record for receiving yards in a season – at 1,536 – and was a big factor in making quarterback Eli Manning look so good in this year's Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.

Next we come to Jeremy Lin. Once again, in 2010 Lin goes unwanted at the NBA draft and bounces around the league. The Knicks claimed him off waivers to sit on the bench and essentially be a backup's backup. He moved to New York and ended up sleeping on his brother's couch in Manhattan since he undoubtedly thought, “No way am I buying a condo in the city if I am going to be cut.” It's likely you've since heard of his remarkable run and the excitement, and wins, he's brought to a formerly mediocre team. A few weeks ago no one had any idea who this person was.

“If you are a looking to hire an IT security professional to run your network or protect your data: Look outside the box.”

– Michael Potters, CEO of The Glenmont Group

And now for the lessons learned. If you are a looking to hire an IT security professional to run your network or protect your data: Look outside the box. Not all the successful recruits come from the best schools or the top companies: 32 NFL teams and 30 NBA teams passed on these guys, despite all of their high-paid research.

Be patient, give people a real chance to show their stuff: The NBA's Warriors and Rockets are shooting themselves now for having Lin and letting him get away.

When you realize you may have a gem, let them loose to succeed. Don't become an impediment to their growth. Further, make sure your team embraces their success, and all raise their games accordingly.

It's also a good idea to not be cheap. Just because you lucked out and hired a particularly bright and energetic person at a steal, pay them what they should be paid – or you will lose them as easily as you found them.

Meanwhile, if you are a candidate looking to break into this demanding field, don't ever believe that you can't compete with the big players from the better colleges or companies. You can. Fifty percent of the top people in the IT security industry fit into this category.

As well, if given the chance by a client, don't blow it. Work hard, perfect your craft, and when the door opens a crack, kick your way through and do the job better than you ever imagined.

However, don't be greedy. If the only way into the firm is to take a lower-than-desired fee, do it. You can prove yourself once you are in there and then potentially, at least, make all the money you deserve.

And, don't be selfish. Look to make your team better around you. They will appreciate it and pay you back by making you look better – which will, of course, earn you more money and a stable career.

Final message to hiring authorities: Two years ago, the general manager of the Giants had no idea who Victor Cruz was. A few weeks ago, the general manager of the Knicks had little clue who Jeremy Lin was. They both look like geniuses now and are likely going to be rewarded for the serendipitous nature of these events. Think outside the box.


Michael Potters is CEO and managing partner of Glenmont Group, a Montclair, N.J.-based recruitment firm.
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