Careers That Travel: Michael the Cybersecurity Consulting Manager

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Careers That Travel is an interview series where we feature people who get to travel for work. This post was created during National Engineers Week 2019, where we showcased five different engineers who travel as part of their jobs.

Michael is a good friend from college, who was my husband’s roommate for three years. Michael and I also currently work at the same firm!

1. What is your current job, and how does travel play into your role?

I work as a Manager in cyber security consulting at a medium-large audit and consulting firm. We help organizations defend themselves against cyber risk. My job takes me around the United States, with typical projects lasting as few as one week and as long as a few months. I end up traveling about 40-60% of the time to be onsite for projects.

2. What did you study in school, and what helped prepare you for this job?

My degree was in Software Engineering; but I hardly work in that subject matter today. My internships in school as well as the student organization I was a part of (Association for Computing Machinery) helped me build both professional and technical skills relevant to my current job. That being said, it’s still very difficult to be ready for a first professional job. Being inquisitive, being open to new opportunities, and asking a lot of questions are what helped me most in my early career.

3. What is the most exciting place that you have traveled to for work? Least exciting?

Some highlights of where I have traveled for work include Puerto Rico, Chicago, Portland (OR), Seattle, and various places in southern California. That being said, I’m a huge craft beer fan, so any place with a new brewery is a fun time for me. Some not-so-interesting places include rural Texas, Alabama, and Ohio, where the only places to eat in town were an unmarked diner and the gas station. I still have great memories of making snowmen with the team in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin.

4. What types of challenges do you face while on the road?

Really the hardest part about traveling for work is having enough time in the week to get everything done. Additionally, my hobbies (gaming, cooking, brewing, etc.) get put on hold during the weeks I travel.

5. Do you get to travel with a team, or do you typically travel for work by yourself?

Typically, I travel with a team of 2-4 colleagues. Dinners and drinks with the team is a nightly event that is a nice way to unwind. I’ve had my fair share of solo travel engagements though, which aren’t nearly as fun.

6. How long is a typical work trip? Do you ever extend your stay for personal time?

Work trips usually start Monday, although a handful of times a year I travel on Sundays. Although we try to get everyone home by Thursday night, Friday afternoons and evenings are more typical these days. I’ve extended some of my work trips by either the weekend before or after work several times when I’ve been in a fun location, which my firms pays for sometimes.

7. Do you have a home base, or are you completely remote?

We have an office downtown, but people in our group only make it in a few times a month at most, unless they have a special need for a project. Almost everyone makes it in for the monthly team meetings and happy hours, but otherwise a lot of us work from home if we’re not travelling.

8. How does the amount of travel you do change as you move up in this career?

The amount of travel typically doesn’t change too much, but the type of travel does. As members move into senior management roles (such as to director or partner positions), it’s a lot less of travelling to a single client 5 days a week, and more of travelling to 2-3 different clients for a day or two each during the week.

9. Does your company offer any benefits for being on the road?

Those that travel more than around 30% of workdays earn “road warrior” status, which gives them a few extra perks, as well as the opportunity to stay the weekend at the travel location free several time a year. Additionally, we receive some extra monetary compensation if we travel over X nights during a quarter, with each additional night paying more. I know colleagues who have received more than their typical paycheck in these “overnight bonuses” (and they traveled to Europe to do so!).

10. What advice do you have for someone who has to start traveling for work?

Learn a routine that works best for you during the day and the evening when travelling. This might be a daily morning Starbucks ritual, or hitting the gym before dinner. Getting quality sleep is the hardest but most important part of surviving the road. Learn that Yelp can be your best friend, as long as you know the audience providing the reviews. Tex-mex and Cajun food is almost never worth it north of Oklahoma. The free cookies at the hotel are delicious but will make you fat. Just because the meals are “free” doesn’t mean you need to order three appetizers every time.

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