Dennis Egen is the president and founder of the technology firm Engine Room Technology + Security.  Engine Room develops software for digital and mobile platforms, as well as provides airtight data security. Egens motto is, “Dream in code and think like hackers.” He also teaches Software Engineering at Rutgers University. Egen earned both a B.S. and M.S. degree from Rutgers University.

What do you anticipate happening in your field that will bring growth to your market in the next 6 months?

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“Getting back to basics. Many of the data breaches we are seeing today are from typical spearfishing so, there needs to be a commitment to – and sustained effort around – educating employees. Employees need to understand that opening a seemingly friendly email could give a hacker access to proprietary information. Communicating these risks to employees will help get ahead of the issue, which is becoming more and more common.”

When hiring for your company, what do you look for in an employee?

“Curiosity and the desire to constantly learn. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a strong propensity for learning – someone who is committed to expanding his or her knowledge base and absorbing as much as possible. Looking at someone’s work on GitHub can help assess this.”

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What advice would you give to someone entering into your field?

“Find ways to gain experience. Do pro bono work for a non-profit. Find a small business that needs help and do it for free or for a discount; everyone knows someone who could benefit from this work. In the end, showing the results of actual project work and having a proven track record will get your foot in the door.”

What is the median salary for a position in your field?

“In this industry, I have found it to be about more than base compensation. What are the environment and culture like? How creative can you be? How much will you learn? These are all critical factors for types who want ‘to think like hackers’ for a living. That said, I have seen industry reports that put Philadelphia in the top 10 in terms of pay, with an average somewhere in the $90s.”

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