Iona Alumnus Salvador Guerrero Gonzalez ’21 Tackles Cyber Security at Dream Company Morgan Stanley

Name: Salvador Guerrero Gonzalez ’21
Hometown: Cocula, Jalisco, Mexico 
High School: Universidad del Valle de Mexico
Major: Information Systems (BBA)
Job Title: Cybersecurity Analyst 
Company: Morgan Stanley

What do you love most about what you’re currently doing?
I have always been passionate about cybersecurity and finance, and I am fortunate to have a job where I can combine both of my passions at one of my dream companies.

One of the things I love most is that I get exposed to real life cyber threats, learn its impact to the financial sector, and how to build solutions. All of my colleagues are brilliant and have vast experience in the cybersecurity and financial world. What I love about working at Morgan Stanley is that the firm is strongly committed to its core values. We are treated like people and not resources. I have been able to improve my skills and acquire new ones in a short period of time. I have learned much more than what I expected in just a few months; and I have also made new friendships.

What is a day in the life like at your company?
Every day comes with something new to learn. Cyber threats don't stop, especially in the financial sector, therefore I have to be up-to-date on cyberattacks, new vulnerabilities, financial markets, political issues and any other internal and external factors that can impact our firm. I am part of a development program within the Threat Hunt team, which is also known as blue team (cyber-defense); where I get to learn from the best people in the industry. Everyone is always willing to help and take time to explain thoroughly when I run into any issues. I am constantly learning and applying that knowledge into real world problems. I get to code, write scripts, analyze data, systems, networks, suspicious activity and study threat actors. There are new challenges every day, where I have to identify the problem, understand the context behind it, design a solution, and execute it. There is no linear process in doing this. Thought process plays a key role. Due to all of this, I get to improve my cyber skills and acquire new ones every single day. No day feels repetitive, and this is one of the things that keeps me motivated and helps me grow. I have to be prepared for the unexpected. Days go by really quickly.

Why did you decide to study your particular major?
I was always passionate about technology, especially in the cybersecurity realm. I used to love spending time with computers and learning about the online world. I also wanted to learn more about business, finance and economics. I started a couple of different businesses when I was younger and I really enjoyed that too, it was a memorable experience. Whether I would choose to follow a business or tech career, I knew that this major was going to keep me in the right track and get me prepared for either one. This major helped me not only to learn more about my interests, but also to define what my passion is, and which path to choose after college.

How did Iona prepare you to get where you are today?
Iona provided me with all the fundamentals for my current job. I gained the right skills, values and discipline. My professors taught me all the necessary tools to succeed in my current field. I was encouraged to believe in myself and be bold.

Where you involved in student groups or activities? If so, how did they shape or support your career path?
Yes, I was part of the computer science club. This group helped me improve my technical skills, understand the different approaches to technology and its uses. Another key factor about this club is that it made me realize where my potential was and where to focus to build a strong career plan.

What is your fondest Iona memory?
Iona cares about the success of every student. My first year as a transfer student was very hard. Not only because it was a new place for me, but also because I was transitioning from being a student-athlete to a “regular” student – that was quite shocking. I also switched to a challenging major and things got complicated. I never faced those types of problems in my academic and personal life before. Due to some external factors, my performance was diminishing. The Counseling Center quickly noticed it and reached out to me. They offered help and I accepted it. That turned out to be one of the best decisions in my college career. They were fantastic. I spent a couple of hours a week at the counseling center, where I got to learn time management, efficiency, good habits, new skills and life hacks that shaped the rest of my college life.

Was there a professor, staff member, or peer who made an impact on you while you were at Iona? If so, who and why?
Yes, Dr. Altschuller. She was my pillar throughout my time at Iona. She was absolutely amazing. It is hard to find the right words to express how thankful I am to her. I don't know how I would have been able to make it through Iona without her. She was always there for me, getting me out of trouble when I thought everything was lost. Finding the right resources and courses for me, giving me advice to succeed as a student, looking for the best possible path so that I could pursue my dreams upon graduation. Another professor that made an impact in my time at Iona, was the late Dr. Frances Bailie. She was the one who helped me understand my strengths and she taught me the difference between insisting and persevering. Dr. Bailie is the one who put me in touch with Dr. Altschuller, and that is how my college career flourished.

What is the lasting impact Iona has made on your personal and professional life?
Throughout my time at Iona, I realized what my real weaknesses and strengths were, and how to make the best out of them in my personal and professional life. Iona helped me overcome personal boundaries. Lastly, I also understood the power of helping others and how that influences us as individuals and society.

What advice do you have for a current Iona student who wants to follow a similar path? Make the best out of your time at Iona. Engage in any activities related to Tech/cybersecurity. Get familiar with hacking practices. Take cybersecurity courses within your major. Get as much exposure as you can outside of the classroom. Ask your professors for advice and guidance – they can help you more than what you may think. Learn new skills, but don't burn yourself out studying. Be efficient. Emphasize programming skills. Networking is crucial, start building it now and keep expanding it. Persevere.

What seven words would your family use to describe you? Driven, disciplined, passionate, stubborn, loving, generous, and persistent.