A New York-based nonprofit focused on the academic and professional success of minority cybersecurity students and professionals plans to open a chapter in Tampa this year.
The local chapter of the International Consortium of Minority Cyber Professionals would serve as a go-between for workers and employers, providing connections to training and skill assessments, said Larry Whiteside Jr., co-founder and president.
Minority representation within the cybersecurity field is about 26 percent, slightly higher than the overall U.S. minority workforce of 21 percent, according to a 2018 study commissioned by ICMCP, the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, and (ISC)², a Clearwater-based nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals. The study also found that racial and ethnic minorities tend to hold non-managerial positions, and there are pay discrepancies, especially for minority women. Under-participation by large segments of society represents a loss of opportunity for individuals, a loss of talent in the workforce, and a loss of creativity in shaping the future of cybersecurity, said Aric Perminter, founder and chairman of Lynx Technology Partners. Perminter was president of ICMCP at that time.
Whiteside was named president of ICMCP in late January. He’s founder and CEO of Whiteside Seurity in Brandon and a Tampa native with more than 20 years experience in building and running cybersecurity programs. He’s held positions as chief security officer and chief information security officer in multiple industries including the Department of Defense, federal government, financial services, healthcare and critical infrastructure. He’s involved in Tampa Bay Tech and The Undercroft, a cybersecurity hub in Ybor City.
ICMCP currently has five chapters in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus and the San Francisco Bay area, and plans to bring six chapters online this year, including in Tampa.
Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field, and many colleges and universities have begun offering degree programs in the field. It’s also one of the few fields that can be entered right out of college, Whiteside said.
“We realize that not everyone goes to college immediately. In cybersecurity, if you get the right training and a certification and show aptitude and drive and a willingness to learn and the ability to do analytical thinking, some companies will hire you out of high school,” he said.
ICMCP does not provide training directly, but works with training partners, including (ISC)², Cyber Skyline, FortiVet and Rangeforce. Another partner is ISACA, an international professional association focused on IT governance.
Although Whiteside lives here, the organization will maintain its New York headquarters, where it is housed within the offices of Lynx Technology Partners.