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2013—Joey C., principal product manager at Microsoft

2013 MSSA graduate Joey C. left the Marines to join MSSA’s first-ever cohort. Learn how he parlayed foundational IT skills into a career building customer feedback into cybersecurity products, and representing cybersecurity and AI technologies to customers, industry leaders, and technical libraries.

Catch us up on your career moves since you completed MSSA. What has your career looked like?  

I started as a cyber reliability engineer. In that role I used the knowledge that I gained at MSSA to create automation, which basically automated my entire end-to-end role, and took work that could take hours or days and made it into a minutes-long effort. That was something I truly enjoyed and was probably my first big accomplishment.

Now I’m a Principal Product Manager in the Security Copilot CXE team, which is a customer experience engineering team. I work with customers and explain the bleeding edge of Security Copilot—at a high level, basically cyber security concepts with AI—and help customers understand what the product can do. I also gather feedback to put back into the product, so we optimize it for the customer so it’s even more impactful as an enterprise solution.

Because we are extremely customer obsessed, one of the best parts about my job is knowing we can mold the product to be even more impactful and even more useful.

Have you been part of any cool projects or efforts that impact customers or the IT industry?

Product management gave me the chance to work with customers to showcase how our products work in an enterprise environment, which prompted me to create what is now known as Woodgrove. It’s essentially a fictitious enterprise that simulates a complete suite of security products and end to end solution.

We started using Woodgrove in our Identity and Network Access team, and it’s now used across several product teams to understand our complete security deployment.

Understanding our security products also helped with presenting to Industry Analyst from groups like Forrester, Gartner, Kupinger Cole, and IDC, which hold a lot of ground in C-suite and sales decision-making.

To assess a technology, they do a deep-dive into the performance and capabilities of industry-leading products under different scenarios and then compare their performance. It’s a major way that we can showcase our product’s strengths in its class in a respected environment.

Analysts ask challenging theoretical questions, and they need the product truth—That’s where customers lean on these reports to actually gain insights into the actual product. Working in in the in the large-scale teams of product managers to create a cohesive story to relay to the analysts is a lot of fun—it helps me to understand our overall vision for the overall product.

Where do you drive impact in your work?

Bringing customer feedback to our product teams and making our cybersecurity products more impactful is meaningful, and we use them every day.

Most of us interact with the Zero Trust framework already—every day for some of us. Being part of a team that’s behind those efforts and helping business to adopt it feels impactful on a big scale.

The concept of zero trust as a security framework is fairly simple—trust nothing, explicitly verify everything. We know that password based attacks are on the rise. Consumer would interact with Zero Trust is the movement away from passwords and using a passwordless option, like an Authenticator App, instead.

Talking with enterprise teams about their needs—how, for example, can we as the user experience team can make it more enjoyable for users to use a passwordless sign-in method?—and getting their feedback incorporated into our product feels impactful.

Brag on your IT career for a moment. What’s the coolest part of your job?

I was just published as lead contributor on a NIST special publication for implementing a zero trust architecture. It’s the playbook to help cyber architects and customers understand how Microsoft products align with the Zero Trust cybersecurity framework.

NIST is a scientifically and technically respected national laboratory (National Institute of Standards and Technology), so it’s considered a primary resource. Contributing to its library is a major professional achievement.

What are you inspired to do next?

Continue giving back to the community excites me. It’s extremely important for us to learn as much as we can, but also remember to give back to those that are just starting their journey.

And I think for me that’s what excites me as well, is taking all my experiences in my journey. Help mentoring people not just with career direction but even career skills—like leveraging AI to do your resumes, mock interviews, leverage it as a tool.

There’s the saying that it won’t be AI that replaces you, it’ll be somebody using AI. I love that quote because it’s absolutely true. Like anything in tech, it’s always evolving in real time, so lean in to using your tools to grow.

That’s the piece that I love about my job—you can never be complacent. You’re always moving, always learning. The military rules still apply-complacency is a bad thing. You have to always know yourself and seek self-improvement.

Especially when in a time when AI so prevalent, the attacks are going to change—we’re already seeing them. So, it’s a fun time to be in tech for sure.