Anthony Tuttle is the Associate Director of National Workforce Development at Grand Circus. Prior to Grand Circus, Anthony started his career in marketing and product management at Steelcase before joining the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology (WMCAT) where he launched and ran the Cyber Hub at WMCAT.Over his career, his focus has shifted from the intersection of furniture and technology in both corporate and educational settings, to managing multiple integrated technology products that solve for the needs of both end users and IT decision makers, to leading efforts to build a diverse and inclusive cybersecurity/tech talent pipeline by providing equitable access to trainings and other technology resources. At his core, Anthony is a learner and an educator who is passionate about building community, increasing diversity in the tech workforce, and helping individuals improve their lives and communities.
Anthony Tuttle is a North Carolina native who earned his B.S. in Technology, Engineering, and Design Education from NC State University and his Master’s degree in Management from Wake Forest University. He’s a husband and father, anime and action movie fan, and a self-proclaimed barfly.
There is a common misperception around the cybersecurity industry that there is only one way into a career in cyber: you build your own computers as a kid, study coding in college, and then jump into the deep end as a developer in one of the world’s tech hubs. But for Anthony Tuttle, Associate Director of National Workforce Development at Grand Circus, this certainly wasn’t the case.
A native of North Carolina, Tuttle’s journey into cybersecurity flies in the face of the idea that job seekers have to love tech, and only tech. Instead, you just need an interest in the space and a desire to help others.
Today, Tuttle is a leading player in helping Grand Circus raise cybersecurity awareness among job seekers and provide them with the skills and training they need to find a career in the cybersecurity space that they will love. Here is a little bit on where his journey began and what he sees as some of the key topics in cybersecurity careers both today and in the future.
So where did it all begin?
Like many cybersecurity professionals, Tuttle first considered going into a technology career as he saw the world of computers start to grow in the 1990s.
“I grew up essentially adjacent to tech,” said Tuttle. “I grew up in the 90s right alongside computers coming into our homes and being used in our everyday lives. I’m old enough, but also young enough that we used word processing programs and dot matrix printers in the computer lab of my elementary school. I played mini golf on floppy disks. So technology was just there and it piqued my interest.”
Although Tuttle was interested in technology from an early age, it wasn’t until college when he discovered the exact role he was looking to pursue.
“I came from a military family, and grew up on a military base, and even though you don’t really recognize it when you are growing up, there’s sort of this ethos that permeates that environment around the importance of helping people and protecting others,” said Tuttle. “That ethos is really core to who I am, so even though I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do it, I knew that I wanted to help people with technology. That’s where my college curriculum and experience really factored in.”
“Going to NC State and getting my degree in technology education really helped me find my way, as it really helped center my focus and attention on not just the old tech, or the new tech, or even the emerging technologies on the horizon. But really, on the where, the when, the why, and the how to use tech to help us solve problems.”
From there, Tuttle set out to use his education and marketing skills to help further technology understanding within the corporate world — where he landed in a very unorthodox industry… furniture manufacturing.
“My education and background live at the intersection of caring about people, wanting to help protect them, wanting to help educate them, and understanding business drivers,” said Tuttle. “This is ultimately how I ended up in my first job out of college as a product marketer at a furniture manufacturer. Specifically, I was in the Integrated Technologies part of the business that later sort of evolved into what they called “Smart + Connected.” This might seem kind of out of the ordinary, but there’s a crazy amount of tech and network connected systems that go into every industry, even furniture. So this role was right in my wheelhouse because it let me think about the considerations around technology that help us do better, and then puts the tools and awareness resources in place to help our organization use technology in a helpful and secure way.”
Building Cybersecurity Awareness for Job Seekers
Using his experience in the corporate world as a jumping off point, Tuttle then transitioned into a career where he would be able to drive cybersecurity awareness and education among potential job seekers.
“Unfortunately, cybersecurity has a lot of misconceptions, and I think maybe one of the biggest for tech broadly and especially for cybersecurity is that it’s a quote unquote, technical field,” said Tuttle. “I think that there’s maybe a fallacy that you have to be a technical person. I probably wouldn’t call myself technical, per se, I just understand how some tech works, and like to explain them and make them accessible. So, I wanted to do something to help address these misconceptions and bring more people to the table.”
Beyond a fear of technology, Tuttle noted that expectations and pressures within certain communities is a barrier to engaging individuals that fall outside of what is viewed as typical cybersecurity professionals.
“Within some social and cultural communities — some of which I belong to — there can be a sense that it isn’t ‘socially acceptable’ to be nerdy or have an interest in diving deep into tech,” said Tuttle. “Sometimes it’s sort of looked down on which can discourage students or really anyone from pursuing something that they are interested in. It was like when my parents put me in Boy Scouts. Around seventh or eighth grade, it became really uncool to still be in Boy Scouts. So, I tried to get out of it because my peers were putting pressure on me to not do this thing that wasn’t seen as cool. But my parents made sure I stuck with it. In retrospect I really appreciate it because, left to my own devices, I would have opted-out of this thing that I actually enjoyed because I just wanted to fit in with my peers. But fast forward to today and I’m still proud to be an Eagle Scout. It’s even still on my resume.”
“In those young years, you have a lot of pressure from your community and from society in general to be interested in certain things — this is especially true when it comes to computers. And so I think, adults need to ensure that they are giving permission culturally and societally to kids so that they explore things that they have passion and interest in.”
Tuttle also highlighted how imperative it is that the cybersecurity industry work with community and non-profit groups in order to help it address the ongoing challenges it has faced in closing its talent diversity gap.
“Growing the diversity within the cybersecurity workforce is definitely one of the most important priorities for the industry today, and there is huge potential working with community-based organizations,” said Tuttle. “For example, the work I did while at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT) was aimed at increasing equitable access to opportunities. We did a lot of digging in order to better understand what systems and structures are in place that are preventing the growth of underrepresented talent. That work has helped us identify what some of the barriers are amongst under-resourced individuals and what resources and experiences are needed to help them find success.”
What should job seekers know?
Through his experience as a student, product marketer and now leader at Grand Circus, Tuttle sees a huge amount of potential for those seeking a career in the cybersecurity field, despite the challenges.
“The cybersecurity industry is really a blessing and a curse for job seekers because you can really start anywhere,” said Tuttle. “It really comes down to thinking about what interests you and then going from there. The key is just to start and there are a bunch of free resources out there. The National Cybersecurity Alliance has put together an excellent resource library of free resources to help people who want to find something that they’re interested in, and follow that passion. And there are tons of podcasts — like Darknet Diaries, The Blak Cyber Podcast with George McPherson, Diversity in Tech with Joanna Udo, Getting into InfoSec and many, many more — that can help people get a better sense of the cybersecurity landscape and learn at their own pace.”
“In reality, pursuing a job in cybersecurity really just comes down to having a connected device and an internet connection. That’s really all you need a lot of the time! For us professionals, it really is about engaging with people. It can be just as simple as finding someone who likes to play video games and just asking them why they like it. In a way you have to kind of just encourage people to fall where their interests lie, whether it’s straight out of high school or 15, 20 years after they started their careers.”