Building blocks of a cybersecurity career
Hill didn’t always have dreams of becoming a leader in the cybersecurity world. Once upon a time, he was an electrical and computer engineer. That all changed when he landed a spot in a cybersecurity pilot program offered by Booz Allen Hamilton, which is where he worked at the time. The program had a rigorous training curriculum where Hill earned a range of cybersecurity certifications during a condensed, four-month period. Hill emerged from the program as a newly minted cybersecurity expert. And the rest is history!
From there, his education took him into exciting roles at Oracle, GDIT and, most recently, Microsoft.
These days, Hill is still going strong. He’s just as enthusiastic about the field as he was on day one, and he attributes much of that ongoing excitement to the sheer importance of the job. “My entire career since graduation has been in intelligence. Just being a member of that community is so exclusive that you feel a lot of responsibility,” he explains. “Being trusted with the nation’s secrets and then building solutions to deploy in high volatile situations is really exciting. It’s something that I can’t really compare.”
Security solutions leader for Fortune 500 companies
Since starting his cybersecurity career in 2008, Hill has become a leader in the field. In his current role at Microsoft, he’s the face of security solutions for a range of high-caliber clients like Toshiba, Walmart and other Fortune 500 companies. Hill and his team engage with these businesses to provide security recommendations and project infrastructure.
Each day brings new puzzles and challenges. “My day-to-day job is very dynamic, and that’s what I love about it. That’s what I love about cybersecurity as a whole. It’s a very dynamic industry compared to what I started in,” Hill says.
The dynamic nature of Hill’s job means he gets to tap into a range of exciting tools and technologies. “Any type of tool we have at our disposal, we’re going to use, and we’re going to make recommendations,” he says. “That’s across many tech domains. Whether it’s IoT, identity […] robotics, manufacturing or engineering.”
Using technology to give back
Hill is active as a cybersecurity mentor and a non-profit leader. Since moving into a leadership role at work, Hill has been fortunate enough to mentor many staff members at Microsoft. It’s clear that “giving back” is a major motivator for him, which is an excellent way to foster the cybersecurity warriors of tomorrow.
Outside of work, Hill actively mentors high school and college students with a budding interest in technology. He runs a non-profit that focuses on providing immersive learning opportunities to kids in grades five through 12. Hill has tailored his program so that 100% of his non-profit work benefits children in underserved communities. “Mentoring is a part of my life, especially if I can mentor someone in high technology and STEM,” he explains. “I don’t think of them as mentees. I think of them as young colleagues and future partners.”
Hill aims to make the learning experience fun and practical. One of his favorite activities is teaching kids to code through the popular game Minecraft. “That’s the great part about teaching. If you’re teaching and it’s a hands-on activity, it takes a lot of the classroom stuff away, and now it’s practical. It’s real-world.”
Hill has some words of wisdom for up-and-coming cybersecurity experts. “You have to strengthen your weaknesses on a continuous basis, and that’s the opportunities I have right now. The good thing is that if you’re flexible, just wait a second. You’ll either have the opportunity to create your own path, or one will emerge and encompass you. That’s the beauty of cyber—there’s no limits.”
The future is bright for Hill. His long-term plans include landing a coveted spot as an Engineering Fellow at Microsoft. This opportunity will allow him to create and lead his own team. He also has some exciting irons in the fire. Hill is teaming up with a non-profit to build a learning management platform for people interested in learning about the exciting field of technology. He’s also excited about an upcoming open hack at Microsoft.
It’s Hill’s drive to keep his eyes on the cybersecurity horizon, whether he’s adapting to a new challenge at work or mentoring the next generation of cyber fighters, that has secured him a position in the Hall of Fame.