Alum of the Month: Ron Brash

VIU Alum of the Month: Ron Brash

Cybersecurity industry expert Ron Brash, VIU alum of the month.

October 20, 2020 - 3:15pm

A passion for tinkering with computer programs and designing web pages led Ron Brash to start his first year of VIU’s Information Technology and Applied Systems (ITAS) diploma program while he was still in high school. Through a partnership program between Nanaimo Ladysmith School District and VIU that allows public school students to take university courses in their senior years, Ron took his first steps into the world of information technology and is now a renowned cybersecurity industry expert. His skill set has earned him a spot on Control Engineering’s  Engineering Leaders Under 40, Class of 2020.    

How did your time at VIU influence your career path?

VIU was a stepping stone to something larger. I graduated with an ITAS diploma in 2008. VIU helped provide the basic skills to get started in a career working with technology, to gain the mindset needed to handle a variety of problems, and it also gave me the confidence to take initiative and figure things out for myself. The ITAS program helped me get my first real industry job with an iconic Nanaimo business, which has since relocated to the Silicon Valley, called Tofino Security, and that job stemmed from an ITAS practicum. Secondly, the curriculum at the time was heavily open-sourced, and that gave me the skills to enter my first foray into technical networking and Linux, which ultimately led me to a passion for cybersecurity and my current career.

 

What are you doing now?

As of this moment, I’m based in Montreal. I wear a few hats, and have progressed from my VIU days as a technical technician, to embedded software developer, to consultancy owner, to bringing a variety of products to market, to published co-author, and being a subject matter expert at Deloitte. I am now the Director at Verve Industrial Protection, a leading industrial cybersecurity firm, where I work to secure critical infrastructure across the world. I dabble in start-ups, speak at global industry events, have my hands in many technical “cookie jars”, and, most recently, received the honour of being recognized as a top 40 engineering leader under the age of 40. I never know what is next, and every day is different. 

   

How are you staying connected with your VIU family?

Besides a couple of Facebook groups, I reach out every now and then to host a quick seminar about what is possible after ITAS. I was one of the first students to get a bachelor’s degree after earning my diploma and one of the few ITAS graduates that have completed a master’s degree in computer science to my knowledge. There might also be remnants of an introductory cybersecurity class I created for ITAS students as a past emergency instructor; I guess I’m like the ghost of Christmas past.

 

What advice would you give new VIU grads?

Try to take an interest in everything taught in the program, even if it does not directly relate to your immediate reality or vision. You just never know when something will arise later in life, and you have an “aha” moment to remind you that you have some knowledge to get started with.

 

My other piece of advice is don’t forget that your education and career does not end when you graduate. The ITAS program is just the start, and while school can teach you many skills, your development, objectives and career path are up to you. No amount of education can necessarily prepare you for that, but at least complete it so it can never be taken away from you; even when life takes a turn for the worst. Don’t forget to take care of your mental health – there is more to the equation of life, including life balance or “soft” emotional skills, to help you succeed with others, to help get you promoted and to manage bigger endeavours.

 

What is next for you?

Currently, a lot of things, including aiming to “retire” in the next five years so I can work on projects that I want to versus have to, but I’m also looking to pursue a PhD in Computer Science that explores modeling the relationships between software and the systems responsible for safety in industrial environments; both of which are critical pieces of technology invisibly holding society together by providing electricity, water, and life’s necessities. For the moment everything is a bit muddled, so whatever is next, will happen next.

 

 


Tags: Information Technology and Applied Systems | Our Alumni