Jose Andujar is a Senior Information Assurance Project Manager at Bridges. With humility, candor, and a calm drive for growth, Jose enjoys managing cross-domain solutions to keep our Nation safe. He also enjoys running, cross-fit, and being a husband and father of three boys.
Take a listen here, or read on below:
Sarah Woods: First, how did you initially get interested in technology?
Jose Andujar: I fell into it. I went to school originally for criminal justice. I couldn’t find any work. There was a hiring freeze pretty much everywhere in the state of Florida, which is where I went to school. I came back to Maryland where my dad was stationed, and he found me a job working for the Department of the Surgeon General of the Army. It was related to standing up small pods for testing people before they get deployed overseas for mild traumatic brain injuries, so we were standing up small independent networks on switches, networks, routers, and laptop servers. That’s how I basically got into IT.
Woods: Did you then go right into wanting to get a clearance and be part of the cyber world?
Andujar: No. I had applied here and there and was trying to get back into criminal justice, as a matter of fact. I was still trying to apply to FBI, DEA, and Department of Justice work, and then I met my wife. Her Dad worked here in the IC space. He basically talked to his folks, and they talked to their folks. Then I got submitted through the clearance process, and then I ended up working over at our place just by happenstance.
Woods: In the Intelligence Community everybody’s connected.
Adujar: It really is. It really is. Everybody knows everybody.
Woods: So, how did you connect with Bridges?
Andujar: I was working in what’s now called the CSC. Bridges and the rest of the Alliance had just recently won something. Somebody I told me, “Hey, I’m going over to this office to do some interviews, so I came that night. I interviewed with Chuck [Bridges’ CEO] that same night. I just ended up having half an hour conversations. Then that was pretty much it. It was just the experience of having an informal, off-the-cuff conversation with the three principal executives of Bridges at the time. It was just a really impactful experience for me. Coming from company where I think I had seen the owner of that company maybe once or twice. Yeah, so that left a big impact on me.
Woods: You have worked for Bridges twice now.
Andujar: Yes, I worked for Bridges for almost three years, and then I parted ways. At the time we were still pretty small, so we didn’t have anything mid-level. I had grown out of my position. I worked with folks for about six to eight months trying to find a new avenue for me. We just didn’t have anything at a time. I had gone to school with them, gotten my PMP with them, and started my Masters. When we were parting ways because I was trying diligently to stay at Bridges, I was able to eventually walk away without any hard feelings or animosity. They didn’t ask me to pay back my education or anything. I remember walking out the door. My last day there and C3 [Chuck Faughnan, III – CEO] caught me in the hallway and said, “I wish we could have you stay and keep you. I totally understand. Now don’t stop. Get that education. Get your Masters.” I was working for my Masters and system engineering. Chuck was like “The doors are never closed. The bridge is always there (so to speak).” And, that was that. Two or three years later, I had the benefit of mentor conversations with Chuck over those years, and one day an opportunity presented itself. Everything just lined up. I was able to come back, and it has been crazy busy ever since.
Woods: That is great. In unclassified general terms, tell me a little bit about what you are working on now.
Andujar: I am a Project Manager/Project Coordinator for cross-domain solutions. I manage customers who come in and want a full solution. We provide in a larger or smaller format depending on their requirements and sometimes on their location. I manage, more or less, the entire life cycle from requirements gathering to deployment, data analysis, policy-making, security implementation, sustainment and eventually integration.
Woods: Are there certain technologies that you can talk about?
Andujar: We work predominantly with community guard technologies. If you think of networks, boundaries, firewalls, it’s basically the same kind of encapsulation firewall that protect us at a network level, guard protects us at a data level. We have various providers of our guard technology. We coordinate with them often enough that we can pretty much identify any additional requirements we might have from them as well as how they can best facilitate what we need from them in a solution capacity.
Woods: What you like best about working at Bridges?
Andujar: The best thing I like about Bridges is feeling like I really do have a voice. I feel like in many ways it’s different here. Even though in other places I’ve worked were considered small, there I was just a number. There I did not have a voice, an impact, or an opinion that’s respected. Here at Bridges, it’s nice that I can have a candid conversation with anyone and not feel like that’s a risk. It’s incredibly comfortable to feel like you can have an honest conversation with the CEO about the status of the company, how you feel about it, the culture of the company, things that you can improve, things that work really great, things we need to continue to push out there, or brainstorming ideas. I really feel like I’m being listened to. In other places, there’s not even a forum to even have those kinds of conversations. More than a forum, other places don’t have senior executives asking you about this. Having those people wanting to engage with you is such a powerful thing from someone who is an employee working in the space, where sometimes you don’t get to see those executives, except for maybe once a year. But here, you get to have that interaction and have that opportunity to have true conversations which is just fantastic.
Woods: One last question for you… Where do you think you will have the biggest impact in the future?
Andujar: My hope is to be able to understand our spaces and technologies well enough to where I can make decisions at an executive level to help facilitate growth for Bridges, not only in the current sector that we are in but hopefully in other sectors. I’d like to help us have an impact not just in the great works that we are doing right now but in great works for either other companies, other areas of security, and areas of analytics and analysis. As a Project Manager, it’s really fun to see things at a 30,000 feet level, and really be able to understand how everybody’s talents and pieces fit into all those different facets of a project and how they develop. Being at that higher level to be able to say that “Bridges has such great resources available to us that can facilitate the growth of some really great technologies or use great ideas in our customer spaces as well as moving forward I would really love to be at that kind of level to help guide that vision for Bridges.
Woods: Thank you!
Andujar: You’re welcome.
Woods: Great talking with you.