Frank Escalante is a Cyber Hunt Penetration Tester and Application Engineer at Bridges. While his raised eyebrow alone is enough to make many fall in line, this tough law-enforcement turned cyber professional is disarming with his flashing-bright smile, wit and talent.
Take a listen here, or read on below:
Sarah Woods: Frank, how did you first get interested in technology?
Frank Escalante: For me, it was right after college. I wanted to expand my education. I graduated from University of Maryland with a criminology, criminal justice degree, and I wanted to do something different. So I went to the University of Maryland University College and got a Masters in IA (information assurance). I try to mirror my criminal justice background with my IA.
Woods: You went right into criminal justice from there?
Escalante: Oh, no. I was in criminal justice at University of Maryland, graduated, worked in the government for a little bit, then went back to school, got my IA.
Woods: In technology – information assurance.
Woods: Then went into government on the tech side?
Escalante: Yeah, and first company I worked for was Office of National Drug Control Policy, ONDCP.
Woods: What do you like best about the change?
Escalante: You mean switching from government to contracting?
Woods: Or switching from criminal to cyber.
Escalante: It’s dynamic. It’s always changing. That’s the cool thing about it, and that was the one thing that kind of drew me in.
Woods: All right. So tell me a little bit about Bridges….
Escalante: So Bridges is a very unique company. I’ve been a contractor for quite some time. I’ve never seen a company that builds its character off community, which is very unique, and also very comfortable because you don’t feel like you’re- a number. You are an essential piece of the whole puzzle, and I do mean it. I’ve never seen an open-door policy in any other place like this before where you really can just go to a manager, “I have an idea,” and it – they’ll do it. So I think that’s one of the things that sets Bridges apart from everyone else. It’s more of a community base in the foundation of what they want to build. They definitely want to go in a certain direction which is actually cool, but you actually are a part of it. Most companies don’t do that.
Woods: Can you name an example of where an idea you had changed their direction?
Escalante: Yeah. When I got hired. I got hired to do a particular job. They found out I had a viewpoint/skill set from something else. I told them about it. They’re like, “Let’s go in that direction.” Next step, we’re now growing the whole business sector that we haven’t done before.
Woods: That’s cool. Where do you think maybe you have a chance to make the biggest impact over the next couple of years?
Escalante: Expanding the company.
Woods: Expanding in what way?
Escalante: Getting us into other elements within the federal government and also within private sector, as well. Branching out the commercial business, having the company everywhere, which is kind of cool because you get to be a part of everything. You’re not just a one-trick pony anymore. You have multiple skills and talents.
Woods: Tell me a little bit about what you’re working on at Bridges?
Escalante: Right now, we are working on – when I say “we,” I mean myself and the team – we’re working on a kind of information assurance monitoring system, and we’re working on new AI system (artificial intelligence). We’re trying to apply that to different customers’ infrastructures, so we can monitor them and see the healthiness of their networks.
Woods: Anything else about Bridges overall that if you could tell somebody who’d never met us before and didn’t know much about us, you’d want to share?
Escalante: Oh, yeah. Fun, definitely fun. You definitely do – I have to say, I’ve had a lot of unique All-Hands Meetings, like an all hands at a go-kart track, or all hands at a brewery, or all hands at a movie theater. So yeah, it’s unique. It’s different. Because of that, and because of the personalities, and especially the architecture. The architecture of the whole company- you can talk. You can go and say, “Hey. I think this is a great idea. I think this is a bad idea.” You can say that, which is different.
Woods: Thank you Frank.