New challenges tend to surprise you sometimes. I was pleasantly surprised when I was recently asked to serve as the Interim Assistant Director of Information Security Services for Purdue University Northwest. I currently manage a team of seven full-time individuals and two student workers that make up the networking, infrastructure, and telecom team. The group isn’t that big, but I’d just found a great rhythm managing across the considerable breadth of IT services my team supports. The security team consists of a security engineer, analyst, and a student worker. I’d done work with InfoSec before, but I gave myself some time to think about the opportunity.
One thing that helped me make a decision was that I have a fabulous team. I’ve always set a model of allowing others to grow and empowered individuals to take on leadership responsibilities without micromanagement. In the past, I served as interim for the server administration team while we went through a merger in the middle of an outlook and AD migration which was lots of work but was very successful. The networking team had also served in a security operations capacity until a dedicated security department formed two years ago. I believe these items were factored into why I was asked to serve as interim. It was a great honor and opportunity to be asked if I could help serve others and I also have a passion for teaching, so I accepted the position.
Then human nature kicked in, and I started to ask what did I get myself into when I accepted the position. Information security is no joke and there was lots of work to do, but I know that I’ve surrounded myself with supportive individuals that will help along the way. It’s been about three weeks thus far. I’ve received lots of positive feedback and have a long list of goals to accomplish. However, my primary objective is to promote teaming and collaboration across the division and the Information Security Services team. We have lots of smart individuals, so together I know that we can accomplish any task. I look forward to diving back into InfoSec and plan to share the journey.
Hi, my name is Javier Solis, and I’m currently the Network and Infrastructure Supervisor at Purdue University Northwest. I was also recently asked to serve as Interim Assistant Director of Information Security Services. My work day consists of leading and mentoring a total of nine full-time employees and three student workers. One day I could be assisting the security team with incident response and the next day I could be working with the networking team on leading projects such as wireless expansion, end of life equipment replacement, or telecom related projects. One of my primary goals as a leader is promoting teaming and collaboration. I also enjoy training others to take on lead roles and responsibilities. If my team can function well while I’m enjoying a vacation, I know that I’ve done my job.
A Little History
I have been engrossed in the world of IT since the start of my freshmen year of high school back in 1998. I have also been blessed to carry two core full-time jobs since the start of my career as an IT student worker at the former Purdue University Calumet campus in Hammond Indiana.
My first full-time job was at a WISP (wireless Internet service provider) in Northwest Indiana. We were small in the eyes of the local telcom providers such as ATT and Comcast, but pretty large for a shop run by just a few employees. We heavily ran the Motorola canopy wireless line of gear and primarily used Mikrotik routers. Then I had the opportunity to move up to Wisconsin under contract by the same WISP to manage and deploy a 2.5 square mile municipal WiFi cloud mostly on my own. It proved to be quite a task, but I learned a great deal.
Five and a half years after working at that WISP, I took an offer to work as a full time network administrator back at Purdue University Calumet. Five and a half years working at the Purdue Calumet Hammond campus, there was a unification/merger with the Purdue North Central Westville regional campus. I’ve since been serving in supervisory roles at Purdue University Northwest. I’ve participated in two interim roles, lead networking, infrastructure, and telecom teams. It’s funny how we find ourselves back where we started, but I’m learning more than ever. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others and I hope you enjoy this blog. I also look forward to hearing from anyone out there. You can also find me on twitter at @javi_isolis or at linkedin.