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Quiz – what’s the hottest career field inside the defense industry today? My guess is you didn’t need to spend more than a second before you thought ‘cybersecurity.’ Government leaders have been lamenting the lack of qualified cyber talent for nearly a decade now, and a wave of new breaches – including the massive Office of Personnel Management breach – are a reminder that the need for better data security in government isn’t going anywhere.
And while many defense firms are trying to quickly ramp up their IT security services, one company has been all about cybersecurity from the start. MindPoint Group LLC is quick to point out they have one focus – IT security. (Period.) It’s right on their home page, and when you talk with professionals in their company, you can see how that focus is critical to their success.
“We wanted to be very focused, very different, and be specialists in what we do,” said Mariam Es-Haq, vice president of corporate operations at MindPoint Group and one of its four co-founders. “It was a decision we made early on because it would yield better services, better delivery, and better focus for our employees.”
All of MindPoint Group’s founders came from the federal government civil service or contracting, and two of them had extensive IT security backgrounds, Es-Haq notes. In addition to keeping their focus small, they also make talent acquisition a priority – something Es-Haq highlights as critical to the success of any service provider.
“IT security is a highly competitive industry when it comes to recruiting talent,” said Es-Haq. She noted that many small businesses struggle to offer a compensation package that can compete with big businesses. “We ensured that we invested heavily in benefits, professional development, and creating an overall benefits package that exceeded other businesses.” Es-Haq said they had to be ‘very savvy’ in thinking about how to do so in a cost effective way. But the investment in time – and capital – has been well worth it.
“Our benefits package as a whole – including payscale and work-life balance, is by far better than many large businesses,” said Es-Haq.
How does she know this? Extensive off-and on-boarding interviews provide critical insight into why IT talent chooses MindPoint Group – and why they decide to leave. When it comes to why talent comes, they’ve found employees are attracted to both their benefits package and the unique projects they’ll be able to focus on – work they may not be able to do at another company.
“When we talk about innovation at MindPoint Group – it’s not just a term we throw out,” said Es-Haq. “We’ve created cybersecurity solutions that, prior to us, were not there – we’ve made that impact.”
One of those areas also happens to be one of the fastest-growing subsets of cybersecurity, and that’s cloud security and cloud computing. MindPoint Group was the first security company to help a federal agency migrate to the cloud, Es-Haq states proudly. That federal agency was NASA. As the security experts on the NASA WestPrime contract, they assisted with the migration of more than 150 applications to the cloud. That project earned their project team the NASA Honor Award, “Taking NASA into the Cloud”, earned MindPoint Group a Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award, and special individual recognition for several team members.
Making People a Priority
“As a service provider, it all comes down to the people that you hire,” said Es-Haq. “In our industry, everyone puts the emphasis on business development…but as a service provider, the very next most important thing is talent – your recruiting process, and having the right tools at your hands to find that talent. You can bring in all the business you want in the world, but if you can’t bring in talent, you can’t create new solutions to address the challenges of your customer.”
When it comes to making sure the talent they hire has what it takes, Es-Haq calls interviews key, but notes they’re looking for employees who have more than technical skills.
“When we do interviewing, we do a technical, and also a non-technical interview,” said Es-Haq. And while IT professionals are used to running scenarios in their technical interviews, Es-Haq said scenarios are also a key part of the non-technical interview, as well.
“We want to see how candidates think – how they solve things, how they escalate,” noted Es-Haq. “That’s really become helpful for us to see if an individual fits within our company culture.”
In an industry with a ‘scarcity of skilled resources,’ as Es-Haq puts it, those interviews are key to seeing how applicants will perform when they need to process new ideas quickly. For cyber firms to compete, talent needs to have well-defined skills, but also the ability to pick up new concepts quickly.
That need for innovative talent wraps in well with their corporate vision for staying true to their niche – IT security.
“Cybersecurity includes many missions,” said Es-Haq, who said MindPoint Group plans to stay true to its core mission, and is ready to take on the challenges of doing so, even as a small firm. “We’ve learned to plan well, anticipate well, and have new ideas ready to roll out.”
And it’s those same qualities it’s looking for in its talent – the ability to plan, the ability to execute, and the ability to innovate – all within one niche – IT security.
Interested in pursuing an IT security career at MindPoint Group? Check out current openings here.