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Jay James is chair of Auburn's Young Alumni Council and mentors students who may want to follow in his footsteps into the cybersecurity field.
Less than 10 years post-graduation, cybersecurity professional Jay James is making groundbreaking strides in his field.
James’ path to a career in cybersecurity started with an elective course during his junior year at Auburn University. Enamored by the profession, James changed his major to information systems management and graduated from the Harbert College of Business in 2015.
“I didn’t always know about the various career options in cybersecurity,” James said. “I just knew I wanted to help people through technology, and this made a great fit.”
Since his graduation only eight years ago, James has become a prominent leader in the cyber space at Auburn. As the cybersecurity operations lead, James works diligently with his team to keep the university’s information safe under the guidance of the chief information security officer. From safeguarding research data to protecting university accounts, James credits the entire Auburn cybersecurity operations team as the front-line defense against malicious activity online.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and James was selected as the subject of the Everything Auburn podcast, where he provided online security tips and advocated for mentorship in the field. James warned listeners about the threat of “phishing” and urged Auburn about the importance of multi-factor identification. Practical tips such as these are how James is teaching the Auburn Family and keeping it safe this month and the rest of the year.
Auburn University alumnus Jay James is hard at work keeping his alma mater safe in the cybersecurity realm.
In addition to his thriving career, James is investing in the next generation of cybersecurity professionals through the Security Operations Center. James staffs the first-of-its-kind operation with student workers and also offers a mentorship program.
“The mentorship program is so important because it sets students up to enter the profession way ahead of others looking for the same jobs,” James said. “Working closely with the students and seeing them succeed in their careers later on has been very rewarding.”
James’ work and mentorship caught the attention of fellow cybersecurity professionals outside the Auburn Family. He recently was honored with a Global Achievement Award at the International Information System Security Certification Consortium Inc. (ISC2), the world’s leading nonprofit organization for cybersecurity professionals.
The award recognizes individuals who have made great contributions to the field. As the winner for the Americas region, James was recognized for his community involvement and commitment to higher education, diversity, advocacy and mentorship.
“Receiving this award is more than personal recognition — it’s a testament to the impact of Auburn University’s commitment to cybersecurity excellence and the development of the next generation of cybersecurity talent,” James said. “I am thankful for my cybersecurity peers, mentors and Auburn Family that played a role in what I have been able to accomplish up to this point.”
James’ national success in cybersecurity hasn’t kept him away from his alma mater. He has been a member of the Auburn University Young Alumni Council since its inception in 2019. James was appointed Young Alumni Council Chair and focuses on the engagement of recent graduates and various projects like AU 20 Under 40.
“I saw the need for young alumni engagement in the years after I graduated and recognized a lot of opportunity to give back at that stage,” he said. “It’s great to be able to do that and promote representation of all young alumni because we’re so diverse.”
James has found quick success in his field and still has virtually his whole career ahead of him. His dedication to keeping Auburn safe propels his work to greatness and inspires his passion for guiding the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. His advice to students? Resiliency.
“Be resilient in the journey. Things change quickly in technology, but it’s always worth it,” James said. “Seek out multiple mentors. The more perspectives and stories you hear, the easier it is to create your own.”
The Harbert College of Business which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Raymond and Kathryn Harbert's transformational naming gift, is a nationally ranked hub of undergraduate, graduate and continuing business education that is inspiring the next generation of business leaders. Our world-class faculty deliver unparalleled academic rigor in the classroom, while our research-driven scholarship advances thought leadership and best practice across business disciplines. The largest college on Auburn's campus, Harbert enrolls more than 6,900 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.