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Meet Chris Gathright of Sentinel Intrusion Prevention Systems in Richardson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Gathright.

Chris, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Sure! So, I was first introduced to computers as a young kid in the early 90s. We lived in a small town and I happened to have an older friend who had a computer and I would go over to his house and play computer games.

After that, I took every opportunity to interact with and learn more about computers and technology, which eventually led to my interest in security. There was something exhilarating about outsmarting bad guys and using their own techniques against them and by the time I was at the University of North Texas, I had enough experience under my belt that I was able to get a job on the UNT Information Security Team. University networks are a special place for network defenders because they are large networks that are constantly under attack from hackers with a wide variety of skillsets.

There were times where I felt like I was in over my head, but I was surrounded by sharp teammates who were more than patient with me every step of the way. When I had an opportunity to do a summer internship at Sandia National Laboratories, they encouraged me to take it and allowed me to return to my position the next school year.

Once I finished my Computer Science degree in 2009, I started working at Sentinel IPS. They were a small, tight-knit team with a common goal that I genuinely enjoyed working with which led to lifelong friendships. Again, there were times where I was in over my head, but I learned a ton and loved every minute of it. In 2012, I had a unique opportunity to move to the National Capital Region and focus more on offensive security while working in the Intelligence Community. That was easily the most transformative career experience because I was thrown into the world of intelligence and cyber operations, learning how advanced attackers operate and accomplish their objectives by actually getting to be one.

A few years later, I quietly transitioned to a startup — Synack. They had assembled a great team, focused on bringing crowd-sourced security testing to the market and eventually even the Department of Defense through the “Hack the Pentagon” program. The technical work was a blast, but I grew the most through the experience gleaned from managing and integrating remote workers into a team. As we began the process of moving back to the North Texas area to be closer to family, Sentinel IPS reached out with a vision for a new way forward that really resonated to me. That’s how I ended up back here, working with a fantastic team focused on bringing network monitoring and security to those who don’t have the time or resources to handle it on their own.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The three biggest things I’ve always struggled with are time management, perfectionism, and what’s commonly referred to as “Imposter Syndrome”. They can all lead to these recurring cycles where you set excessively high standards and either experience self-doubt when you don’t reach them or discount your successes when you do. I’ve learned that they are all extremely common and that there are some effective ways to deal with them, but those are small, albeit recurring, bumps in the road. When I look back on my experiences I realize that I’m blessed to have developed a passion for my career early on and been given unique opportunities to grow in that. As a company, we have lots of the common small business struggles. Marketing is hard. Sales is hard. But we believe in what we’re doing and our customers love us. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.

Please tell us about Sentinel Intrusion Prevention Systems.
Sentinel IPS exists to bring network monitoring and security services to the little guy. We look at all the network traffic going in and out of your network watching for bad guys knocking on your door or trying to call back home. We exist in a world of expensive security solutions that require lots of money and expertise to manage, but we handle all that for the IT team that doesn’t have the time or resources to focus on that 24/7. I could go on all day about our tech, but what we’re really known for is our customer support. We have this guy on the team — Bob, and based on how much we talk about him you’d think he’s our company mascot, but no, Bob actually works here and his job is to oversee and guide all interactions with our customers to a high standard. That’s what makes us different. We put our customers first every time and treat every interaction like it’s the only one that matters.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
We’re not perfect and we make mistakes, but we’re always focused on learning from those mistakes and improving our internal processes to ensure they don’t happen again. Each mistake carries a sting, but we get stronger and more confident every day.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
B. Claire Photography

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