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Christie Gross, MS ISA, 2014

Senior Cyber Assurance Architect

Christie GrossWhy did you decide to get a MS in Information Systems and Assurance? And why Anderson?

My undergraduate degree and work experience leading up to applying for the MS ISA program was largely concentrated in management information systems and business entrepreneurship. When I looked to apply for graduate school, I searched specifically for programs that not only provided the rigorous technical and administrative courses necessary for specialization in cyber security, but also for a program that combined operational and management-based study. Integration of these skills is pivotal for anyone in the information assurance area, and Anderson not only offered a variety of courses in these areas, but was also a financially sound option. Anderson allowed me to receive a fantastic education at an affordable rate, while staying in my hometown.

Tell us about your student experience at Anderson School of Management. What are the strengths of this program?

I am thrilled to have been in the first graduating class for the MS ISA program. The courses and areas of study provided are absolutely excellent, and deliver both a breadth and depth of knowledge that is found in few programs. The fact that the majority of professors are or have been professionals in their respective fields brought an incredibly thorough and applicable feature to my studies. The extracurricular activities, student groups, and internships provided valuable networking opportunities, as well as experience that contributed greatly to my ability to be selective about my career prospects upon graduation.

Give us a quick bio of your work experience. Did you have work experience prior to starting in the MS ISA program?

After finishing my undergraduate studies, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa. There I worked in small enterprise development for a women’s association specializing in the production of shea butter and organic cosmetics, and served as the chair of the Information, Communications and Technology Committee. I truly gained an appreciation for the undergraduate degree I had received at Anderson, as I was able to utilize the skills in entrepreneurship, international management, marketing, and management information systems in my Peace Corps role.

During my pursuit of the MS ISA, I worked as an IT and Distance Learning Support Technician in the Student Technical Support Center assisting professors, staff, and students with technical issues.

After graduating from Anderson, I became a Cyber Assurance Architect, where I work in the implementation, assessment, and monitoring of cyber security controls applying to information systems. Additionally, I specialize in cyber risk assessment and analysis.

How did you obtain the role that you are currently in? How helpful was Anderson in guiding you through the process of getting a job/internship?

I found my current role as a Senior Cyber Assurance Architect through the Network and Exploitation Security Team (NEST) student group at Anderson. NEST provided many opportunities for students to interact with professionals in the realm of information systems assurance. Exposure to different potential organizations and careers in cyber security allowed me to refine my focus, and guest speakers provided networking opportunities for students interested in particular career areas.

Did the MS ISA prepare you for your current position?

The Anderson MS ISA program was instrumental in preparing me for my current role as a Cyber Assurance Architect. The range of available areas of focus combined with the blend of technical, administrative, and operational courses in the program ensured a wide breadth of study and experience that lend themselves to the protection of information systems. The collaborative projects that interface with real-world organizations in the various sectors of study, as well as the focus on critical thinking provided excellent exposure to the skillset needed to work in the field of information systems assurance.

What is your best memory from your time at Anderson?

Working at Anderson as a student is most definitely my best memory from my time in the Master’s program. Forging relationships with faculty, staff, and students on a daily basis allowed me to fully appreciate my time in the program. Interfacing with other students on a regular basis created the ability to explore new skill sets in a variety of areas, and the mentorship opportunities with professors was invaluable. The real-world experience that I gained working at Anderson prepared me to meet my career goals upon graduation.