In this monthly column, Defense Daily highlights individuals from across the government, industry and academia whose efforts contribute daily to national defense, from the program managers to the human resource leaders, to the engineers and logistics officers.

Carolyn Duby is Field CTO and Cybersecurity GTM Lead at Cloudera Government Solutions, Inc. In this role, she leads the team’s open-source cybersecurity efforts and is supporting agencies in their missions to meet White House implementation plans and primary cybersecurity-focused mandates. Duby has over three decades of experience in software development, engineering, data and the cyber realm. Since 2022, she has led projects across DoD agencies that enable teams to build real-time data collection pipelines, break down data silos with Dataflow technologies, and help address data privacy requirements.

How did you get involved in the defense industry or community?

When I graduated from Brown University, I started working for Cadre Technologies, Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tool vendor. The majority of Cadre’s customers used Teamwork to design large embedded systems projects. I was a software engineer at the time, but after a big solution release, the leadership team wanted me to connect with customers to review the new features. I loved hearing about how the customers were using the tools and bringing their feedback to the development team – I was bitten by the customer bug!

After Cadre I co-founded a small consulting firm specializing in model driven architecture for defense and medical device real-time embedded systems. It was a great opportunity to help customers revolutionize their software development processes by building reusable domains.

Did you feel like you always had sufficient mentors and leaders to help guide you? Why/why not?

I was fortunate to learn from some amazing senior engineers in my first job out of college – they were integral in the first few steps of my work post-grad. As I progressed in my career, I spent more time mentoring other people and didn’t have as much support for my own career. Two years ago, I made great progress with an executive coach and then joined CHIEF. Our CHIEF core group is a sounding board and support system of women seeking chief level roles.

Mentorship is critical to professional growth. Knowing that it is, I aim to support and uplift those around me. There is significant value in helping others and mentoring provides the opportunity to vastly enhance and alter the career path of other professionals in your industry.

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How do you work to be a mentor yourself to younger counterparts?

I am constantly looking for ways to encourage and develop my team. It’s extremely important to build inclusive teams that develop everyone to their fullest potential. Not only is the team more effective, but inclusion and development help retain talent. In sales and technology, it is very expensive to lose a team member. Key relationships with customers are lost and it is a costly, time-consuming process to train a new team member.

Cloudera hosts a collaborative environment where we have many opportunities to work together with sales team members across the globe to find the best way to help our customers. I’m active in our subject matter expert (SME) program and work on shared projects with our solutions engineering team. In that same vein, I’m also active in our Cloudera Women Employee Resource Group.

Last year, I co-chaired our internal Data in Motion Hackathon. Through this friendly internal competition, our team tests hard data problem-solving skills, cultivates a collaborative work culture, and strengthens our mission solving capabilities. The results are always amazing!

Outside of Cloudera, I participate in various women’s tech organizations and am a sponsor of Hack @ Brown. I find immense value in supporting various organizations and lifting my fellow tech professionals through these efforts. Mentoring is a win-win for both participants – I’m always learning from everyone from the new college graduate to the most senior team member. Every individual brings forth a new perspective worth learning from. It is through collaboration that innovation has the space to thrive.

What does it mean to be successful in your career field?

Success is building teams that engineer products and solutions that make a positive impact in the world. There is much to be said for excelling in a field. However, I find the real sense of success stems from harnessing our field for positive change. Utilizing our advanced technology for the betterment of society is an opportunity that brings meaningful, intangible, and invaluable success. Our day to day lives are becoming increasingly affected by cyber incidents, and my work in cyber helps keep the world safe from cyber criminals and nation state actors.

Fortunately, I have found a company that aligns with that mission. As a purpose-driven company, Cloudera leverages our people and company society with products that allow our customers to meet mission objectives. There are many different career paths in the technology industry and with that provides endless possibilities to have a positive impact.

I’m also very proud of my contribution to the Cytyc ThinPrep Pap test. The ThinPrep Pap test is the first FDA-approved, liquid-based cytology option in cervical disease screening. It has revolutionized the diagnosis of cervical diseases and remains the preferred pap smear over 20 years later. I’m honored to support this meaningful solution that helps women every day.

What are some of the under-appreciated positions in the defense field, the unsung heroes or essential cogs in the machine that help the job get done with less recognition?

In defense contracting, the test and verification teams are the unsung heroes. Once the code is written it is a multi-year effort to ensure the product works correctly and safely in challenging environments.

There is an extensive process of testing, retesting and troubleshooting that must take place before the code is fully functional. Many positions in the defense field are given constant accolades, which are warranted – however, the work done behind the curtain is also crucial to coding and is an essential function of the proverbial machine that has direct impacts on mission-critical operations.

How can the industry improve in promoting these individuals and building them up?

Engineering teams tend to be very focused on their own area within a much larger project. Helping the team understand their roles and how it affects others builds empathy and engagement across the organizations, as well as the industry as a whole. The key is to continue to build and grow relationships, while also using the principles of constant improvement. It can make the project, as well as its final result, better for everyone.

I also believe that valuing the personal growth of team members is essential for maintaining a strong employee base for both Cloudera and the overall industry.

How has the culture changed around diversity within your career?

The approach to diversity within the government technology industry has changed drastically throughout my career – the lack of diversity has been recognized as an issue for many years, in general. The difference today is that evidence and data highlight that diversity strengthens companies and is a board level concern for many organizations.

Our team at Cloudera Government Solutions measures diversity and has a specific group dedicated to improving diversity throughout our company. The future opportunity is to embed diversity and inclusion across all teams in the organization. Right now, many diversity efforts are driven by a small team, but in order to make a significant impact, diversity and inclusion must be an integral part of every department.

What is your advice for new entrants to the defense/military community?

If I had one piece of advice to give to new entrants in this realm, it’s to continually learn. Technology changes quickly and you will need to constantly reinvent yourself. There have been so many technological advancements already but there are still many on the horizon. With generative AI, quantum computing and 5G communications, the need to adapt is becoming increasingly vital today.

Beyond that, I want to stress the importance of building relationships across the organization and learning the full picture of the product you are working on. It’s always beneficial to be eager and seek out opportunities to try new things and get out of your comfort zone – you may find a new passion!

What do you see as the future of your sector in national defense?

The geopolitical landscape has changed dramatically over the past two years. Space, AI and quantum are all amazing opportunities and great threats for the defense industry. In the private sector, the most important factor in all this is ensuring that our technology continues to evolve to fulfill the needs of our government partners, especially as cyberwarfare is becoming an increasingly prevalent focus in matters of national security.

Who are the Force Multipliers in your community? Let us know at [email protected].