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Darrell Durst on Lockheed’s Partnership With DHS, State of US Cyber Workforce

Darrell Durst on Lockheed's Partnership With DHS, State of US Cyber Workforce - top government contractors - best government contracting event


Darrell Durst leads a Lockheed Martin organization that provides cyber technology and services to the U.S. government in his role as vice president of cyber solutions.

The 28-year engineering veteran’s background includes experience in intelligence and security technology initiatives for national security systems and government customers’ missions.

In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Durst discusses the company’s cyber offerings to commercial clients through a Department of Homeland Security program and how he believes the country can build a strong cyber talent base.


ExecutiveBiz: What areas have you primarily focused on within the past year at Lockheed Martin?

Darrell Durst: For the past 5 years, I’ve been focused on delivering intelligence and security technology capabilities and systems to government customers in support of their critical missions. Some of the work we do supports highly advanced cyber technology and services sought after by the U.S. government.

From a strategic growth perspective, I was fortunate to lead a cross business area executive cyber team, tasked with delivering a cyber strategy focused on aligning and integrating the company’s cyber expertise, technology and resources to enable business growth in both government and commercial markets.


ExecutiveBiz: What attracted you to join Lockheed Martin initially?

Darrell Durst: When I joined Lockheed Martin some 25 years ago, the company was developing critical and sophisticated national systems that required engineering talent to design, develop and operate. This included space and ground domains and later came the cyber domain.


ExecutiveBiz: What is Lockheed Martin’s role as a Commercial Service Provider for DHS?

Darrell Durst: Last year, Lockheed Martin was named as a DHS-authorized Commercial Services Provider to deliver cyber security to commercial customers under the Enhanced Cyber Security Services Program. This means that our organization meets the security standards as dictated by DHS to support commercial companies with the “know how” and processes expected from a cyber security provider.


ExecutiveBiz: What role did Lockheed play to help carry out the NSA Cyber Defense Exercise?

Darrell Durst: Lockheed Martin was proud to have supported NSA’s Cyber Defense Exercise which protected the infrastructure for 11 years making the interaction across military teams possible for extensive cyber training. We are no longer supporting the contract yet were again, very fortunate to do so in past years.

(click here to read our story on Lockheed’s cybersecurity accreditation from NSA, obtained earlier this year)


ExecutiveBiz: How do the students gain experience in that exercise for their future careers?

Darrell Durst: Generally speaking, a combination of training, education and experience are the tri-fecta for a well-rounded cyber professional. Gaining experience in cyber requires hands-on involvement in an organization of any size.


ExecutiveBiz: What is the state of the U.S. cyber workforce shortage and how do you think the country can build up this group?

Darrell Durst: Government and industry are facing an extremely competitive environment for the right skills and experience to meet their complex cyber security needs. These individuals are highly sought after and often have multiple offers to choose from at any given time. In cyberspace, cyber analysts, software developers, software testers and other related job titles work together to innovate or integrate secure solutions.

There are no easy answers to solve the cyber workforce shortage, yet a combination of efforts can carry us through a tightened labor market while building the pipeline for the future. In fact, the U.S. Cyber Command has announced its plans to increase its cyber force by 6,000 through 2016.


ExecutiveBiz: What is Lockheed Martin doing to help build that cyber workforce?

Darrell Durst: Lockheed Martin recognizes the significance of its cyber workforce and has invested more than $1 million in university recruiting, scholarships and training, for example. We are constantly seeking out new ways to broaden our cyber workforce through ongoing education and internal career development.

Our commitment to the field includes a LM Cyber University, establishment of cyber career paths, university recruiting, mentoring, knowledge transfer and competitive compensation. In addition, we have graduate scholarships that have been awarded to students at Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue University and the University of Maryland, for example.

From K-12 though to colleges and universities, we support STEM initiatives through programs like Project Lead the Way and host annual Cyber Security Awareness Days for workforce shaping and cyber security awareness as well as other national efforts like the USA Science Festival in Washington, D.C., which takes place every two years.

And from a recruiting perspective, we build a pipeline by recruiting at target colleges and universities where cyber security and STEM curriculums are widely available and supported by government agencies.

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Written by Ross Wilkers

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