Rasheed Cole is the IT manager at RedPeg Marketing, and has been working with the company for about two years.
As a manager, you’d think he has a team working under him, but for Cole, that’s not the case. He manages all of Alexandria, Va.-based RedPeg’s IT and cybersecurity needs all by himself on a day-to-day basis.
“Right now, pretty much, I am the IT team,” Cole said.
Cole said he “kind of fell into” working in IT after growing an interest for the profession years ago. After acquiring a few IT certifications, he began work at Connections Education before joining the World Bank as an IT coordinator. Cole’s most recent job before RedPeg was working with a team of three at Bracewell Law LLP as an IT specialist for three years. Cole holds the highest tech position at RedPeg as IT Manager and started his employment at the company in this role.
Before Cole joined the team, RedPeg only had contracted IT personnel who would come in roughly twice a week. Since joining the team, Cole said his role is similar to a CTO or head of IT, taking on more tech tasks as RedPeg scales as a company. Cole also helps out with RedPeg’s newly launched Dubai office when they need IT support.
Cole said that one thing that keeps him up at night when it comes to this job is security.
“Especially in today’s climate, security is probably the biggest thing I’ll tackle on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “If someone opens up the wrong email, or somebody downloads the wrong thing, that could cause the end of your business. Trying to keep up on the newest security trends and best practices, is kind of the biggest part of my job I would say in the last year.”
So how exactly is Cole managing all of RedPeg’s IT needs alone? We talked with Cole about his day-to-day IT tasks and how he’s keeping the company secure on the cybersecurity front:
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Is it hard managing all of RedPeg’s IT needs by yourself right now?
It can be. I think, though, my background has kind of made it a bit easier. Before I worked in IT, I actually worked in parking management as a concierge manager. So I’m used to high-risk, high-stress people that demand a lot and basically, I answer to everyone. Even though I’m the IT manager, if an intern has a computer issue, I try to take it as serious as if they were the president. With my background as a concierge, it helps me coordinate things like setting different preferences on things to tackle first and also knowing how to deal with people from executive levels to interns. Me just liking IT and loving to learn about new technology and new ways to secure things also helps.
I am juggling, I have all the balls in the air.
What does your day-to-day work load look like?
It can be anything. Because I’m the only person, every day is a different day. It could be one day, the WiFi is down. And if the WiFi is down, that means that’s the first thing I have to tackle. Or it could be, “Hey Rasheed, we need you to make a video that has these components,” and I have to put that together. There’s not one day that’s the same because every day there’s a different potential problem I have to tackle.
Have you dealt with cyber attacks at RedPeg?
Yes. Mid to early last year, I had just done a presentation to everyone in the office about spear phishing and phishing because of the fact that we recently updated our brand and made a lot of changed. I did that presentation and within a week, we had someone get caught with a phishing attack in which, someone pretended to be the CEO and said that, “I need a $1000 in gift cards, can you please buy them, take pictures of them, and send me the batch information of these gift cards.” While I think the presentation got through to people, I think that first mistake was the best thing that could of happened to us. After that happened and we talked about it, they knew that this is a potential serious threat.
How much time does it take to fix a phishing attack?
Really it just depends on if a person took any further action during a phishing attack. If you clicked a link and entered your credentials, that is potentially a bigger issue. Usually, I can nip a simple phishing attack in the bud within 5-10 minutes if I catch them early. As of recently, everyone has upgraded to two-factor authentication and that cuts down the time as well because, of course, you have to have the device or the security key that person has, even if they put their password down.
Based on your needs, are you looking to grow the IT team at RedPeg?
Yes. When I first started, it was just two years ago, it was a bit of a smaller place. There was only one site, there was Geico, which was our biggest client. Now we’re starting to diversify, we’re working with more people, we’re hiring more people. We just opened an office in Dubai, so as we continue to grow, I’m looking for someone to work under me. I think as of next fall, I’ll be getting an intern and we’ll probably be looking at getting someone to work with me full-time.-30-
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