In an unlikely story of true love, a young Jerry Gamblin came to know the love of his life, his raison d’être, his ride-or-die—computers and “hacker-y stuff”—during the early 1990s. Decades later, Jerry and his “hacker-y” obsession are still going strong.
Technically speaking, Jerry serves as Principal Security Engineer at Kenna Security. Un-technically speaking, he’s Kenna’s security champion, teacher, and occasional mischief-maker. Today, Jerry spends his days helping find and remediate vulnerabilities, keeping our security policies and procedures, educating folks on secure development practices, and finding new ways to solve some of the toughest cloud and application security challenges. He also travels the world, sharing his passion and expertise on the road to help companies around the world get a better grasp on how to keep themselves secure.
It’s easy to think that our young Jerry has found his happy ending, but I believe it’s still early days for Jerry and his true love—and I’m sure his 13,000+ Twitter followers would agree (catch him @JGamblin). With an intellect matched only by his good humor, Jerry is making waves in the cybersecurity industry and is poised to keep doing so. And if you’re interested in seeing Jerry in action, you can catch him live on March 28th at Security BSides Dublin for a session on building a first-class startup security team.
‘Til then, here is a short Q&A to help you get to know Jerry a bit better.
Q: Where did you grow up?
Q: How did you come into this field of work?
I’ve always been in security—believe it or not. I went right into a security role with the government. I spent 10 years working in the Missouri State Capitol, helping politicians stay secure in the early days of social media, and then another five years working at Carfax, leading their technical security team as they built out their cloud presence. A couple of years ago, I was given the opportunity by Ed Bellis to join the Kenna Security team and support the company with its explosive growth. It’s been a great opportunity—truly a wonderful fit for me.
Q: What keeps you motivated to get out of bed and come into work every morning?
A: Kenna is in a growth stage, and I feel like our current environment really matches with my personality. In my last job, I felt restless because the pace of corporate change was slower than the pace of technological change. Kenna is the opposite of that. There’s a new project and a new opportunity every day. There’s always something happening and keeping me engaged, and that’s really motivating.
Q: What has been your favorite part of working at Kenna?
A: My favorite part of working here is definitely the incredible growth we’re going through. When I first started at Kenna in April of 2018, we were a very small team. Everyone was doing everything. It’s been really amazing to watch us mature over time and grow into a company that has more employees, more specialized roles, and more opportunities. In the last 18 months, we’ve seen the creation of entire new divisions, like product management. It’s just awesome to witness first-hand this high-growth chapter we’re in, seeing us learn what works and what doesn’t and truly becoming the best version of Kenna Security we can be.
Q: If money wasn’t a factor in life, and you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?
A: Honestly, I would be doing the same types of things I’m doing now. I love hardware hacking, and I’m starting a startup, RoGoLabs, which does embedded automotive hacking. I’m always messing with something. Over the holidays, I taught a class on LED holiday light hacking at Kenna. I have recently started to do research on simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) and am building a robot. Even if money wasn’t a factor, I’d just want to keep doing any kind of hacker-y stuff.
Q: What car do you drive? What car do you want to drive?
A: Well, I drive a Hyundai Elantra, because it’s cheap and I am really never home. I travel a lot, so it stays parked at the airport for two or three weeks every month. There’s no need to have my dream car yet.
I really love to drive, though. I’ve done the McLaren Driving Experience, and owning a McLaren P1 would be pretty incredible. I’ve also done the Audi Driving Experience in Austin, Texas, in the past couple of years, and that was really neat. I’ll take anything that I can drive amazingly fast (and legally).
Q: What advice would you give 13-year-old Jerry?
A: Don’t get discouraged. Nerds end up ruling the world.
I grew up during the start of the dot-com boom, and I loved computers from an early age—always tinkering with things and taking stuff apart (and never getting it quite get it back together). But I couldn’t see a clear education and career path for that at the time. That didn’t slow me down, of course, but it would be nice to be able to give 13-year-old Jerry some reassurance that he’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.
Q: What are 5 must-have songs on your road trip playlist?
A: Coming Home – Leon Bridges
Long Hot Summer Day – Turnpike Troubadours
Beyond – Leon Bridges
Can’t Hardly Wait – Justin Townes Earle
Put On – Jeezy (Especially since a certain former Missouri quarterback did this)
If I’m on a road trip, I might also throw on an audiobook or a good podcast. I regularly listen to the BBC World Report and the Revolutions podcast. A friend of mine actually hosts the latter—it’s incredible. He walks through all the major revolutions of the last 500 years. I highly recommend it if you have time to listen.
Q: Tell us a joke.
My boss recently told me I needed to act more professional. I told him to get out of my fort unless he knew the passphrase.
Q: Horror or comedy?
Q: Mashed potatoes or baked potato?
A: Baked potato
Q: Live in space or under the sea?
A: Under the sea
Q: Zombie outbreak or alien invasion?
A: Alien invasion
Q: Superman or Batman?
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