In December, cybersecurity engineer JB Blackshire was honored with MITRE’s inaugural Susan Mbawuike Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Leadership Excellence Award. As co-chair of our Black Culture Network Business Resource Group (BRG), Blackshire connects people from all over the corporation. “Nothing gives us a better understanding of who people truly are, where they came from, and what their background is than to make opportunities to sit together and share our stories,” he says. Here, Blackshire shares his own story.
As a child, I consumed books like they were food—immersing myself into their universes and how they were built. Reading and academic success were escapes from my challenges of growing up mixed-race in the South—and ultimately shaped my outlook and viewpoint of who I am today.
As a cybersecurity engineer, I’m part of a team that specializes in understanding defensive cyber operations. But MITRE is also a people company. Here, I’m surrounded by supportive and passionate people who are always ready to step up, lend a hand, encourage, and guide. My early experiences inspired me to become the kind of person who connects ideas and people, and MITRE lets me do just that.
Career Pivots and Paths
I had a baseball scholarship to college, but I left after one term to join the Army. I don’t think I was ready for the freedoms that college posed at that time, so I gravitated toward the structure, discipline, and expectations of being a servicemember instead.
The Army was also an opportunity to expand my leadership skills. Right out of basic training I was promoted and two years in, I was a sergeant. I spent my military career in training, development, and adaptation of civilians to military life, both stateside and overseas.
After I transitioned out of active duty, I joined the reserves—and MITRE. A job fair led me to an admin position for a sponsor project at the Pentagon. Due to my military experience, from the start I had opportunities to take on engineering tasks, where I excelled at and loved the work.