Jarrod Echols is a solutions architect at Flashpoint who specializes in working with public-sector clients. Before joining Flashpoint, he was with the White House information technology team, where he identified and combated network threats to the Executive Office of the President. Jarrod holds a bachelor’s degree in information systems technology and a master’s degree in public administration from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, as well as an associate degree from John A. Logan College, which recently named him alumnus of the year for 2018.
Q: What sparked your interest in cyber intelligence?
I’ve always had a love for information technology and grew up with family members who worked in law enforcement. I decided to blend the two, focusing on the security aspect, which led me to pursue a career in cyber threat intelligence.
Q: Can you tell me more about how you reached such a senior role in the U.S. federal government?
During my master’s program, I was fortunate to obtain an internship working for the U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms in the spring of 2012. That internship opened the door for me to return in the fall as a federal contractor for the Senate’s security operations center (SOC). I was tasked with focusing on threat intelligence which would help our cyber network defenders protect our network.
After several years of working for the Senate as a contractor, I was presented with the opportunity to transition into a federal government role as the branch chief, overseeing the Senate’s cyber threat intelligence program. Shortly after building out the Senate’s cyber threat intelligence team, I was contacted about an opening on the White House information technology team and made the transition in 2016.
Echols meeting with former U.S. President Barack Obama
Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a member of the intelligence community?
Living in Washington, D.C. and working in cyber intelligence, I’ve learned that relationships are everything. You need to rely on people you know who work in your field. By having open lines of communication, you become part of an intelligence-analyst family working together to protect federal government networks. If you get to know your industry peers, they can refer you to people they’re connected with. The more trusted connections you have, the easier it is to expand your network.
Echols at the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
Q: What led you to join the Flashpoint team?
Flashpoint is well-known and respected within the cyber threat intelligence community, and I had several pre-established working relationships with people who ended up joining the company, including Chris Camacho, Brian Brown, John Searby, and Sam Adrian. After a year at the White House, I was on the fence about whether to continue working there or to pursue other opportunities. It was around this time that I went to an Imagine Dragons concert with several friends, including Chris Camacho. At the concert, Chris told me to let him know if I ever decide to step back into the private sector, because he knew of several open positions at Flashpoint where my public-sector knowledge would be extremely valuable. Shortly thereafter, I made the decision to join the Flashpoint team.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about working at Flashpoint?
Definitely the people. The company is like a big family, and I already had an understanding of that before I joined based on my interactions with Chris and Brian. One of my favorite moments was on my birthday, back in February. I got a Slack message from senior associate Lilian Dolgolenko, who was on a work-related trip to London at the time, asking me to give her a call to answer some technical questions. When I called back, I was surprised by her and senior director of customer success Glenn Lemons singing happy birthday to me.
In terms of the work itself, being a solutions architect is completely different than what I’ve done in the past. I love being able to blend a more business-focused role with my technical skills and intelligence background to help customers make the most of what Flashpoint has to offer. I also enjoy being able to travel and meet people from across the world.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
I love being outdoors. During the summer, I find myself out on the water a lot, whether it’s kayaking, swimming, or another water-related activity. I also love getting friends together; within my group of friends, we’ve started this tradition where we take turns hosting weekly wine nights.
I’ve been deemed by friends a social networker because I can’t sit still for long and have the ability to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. Friends joke about the “six degrees of Jarrod Echols.” I love introducing people I know to one another, whether for purely social reasons or to help them expand their professional networks.
Q: To wrap things up, can you share a random fact about yourself?
I’ve gone skydiving four times. It’s quite the rush. I’ve done it three times in Illinois, and once in Texas. I like to skydive in places where you have a good view. In Illinois, all I could see were cornfields, but when I went skydiving just outside of Houston, I could look out and see the city skyline and the Gulf of Mexico. I’m going again soon in Florida near Cape Canaveral.
Echols preparing to embark on a skydiving adventure