I am TJ Knight, FSO and Export Compliance Manager for Applied Geo Technologies, Inc. (AGT)
2. How did you get started in your career?
I became an FSO by default, as often happens to many of us. A close friend had just sold his part in a business when he was approached by a former government customer with an R & D contract. He did not have a place to perform the work and I said, “Well, I have a building”, so Zephriam Technologies, Inc. (Z-Tech) was born. Since I am not a Scientist, I became the business manager and FSO because everything we did was classified. This business provided much in training opportunities.
We worked with NRL (Naval Research Labs) in D.C. and AMRDEC at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, NASIC at Wright Patterson AFB and presented at the DIA Conference also at Redstone. I also became acquainted with those in the different Intelligence services. It was through their suggestion that I took the DOD Security Specialist Course. It was offered at Redstone Arsenal and taught by DSS instructors from Linthicum, MD. That was an intense 8hr per day 3 week course with a graduation at the end. I was 1 of 2 contractors in the course. That was a wonderful hands-on experience. All of this experience ultimately led me to the position at AGT where I work today.
3. Tell us about your education, on the job training, or other training that gave you the technical security and leadership experience.
My background is accounting and early childhood education. When we started Z-Tech, I understood that no one but the customer had a need-to-know about our work. I took all of the courses suggested by my DSS rep and then took all of the prerequisites for the DoD Security Specialist Course. One of the best suggestions from the Intelligence community was to join NCMS. I did and never looked back! NCMS provided training, with much of it being free! There were also networking opportunities. DSS and NCMS were Godsends for a new FSO. This education and experience prepared me for my current position at AGT.
I am a DoD Security Specialist and ISP (Industrial Security Professional). There is a reason an FSO should be on the job 5 years before taking the ISP exam. That is because not everything on that test is in the NISPOM. There is much to be learned through experience, like where else to look besides the NISPOM for your guidance and regulations. You have the NISPOM, JFAN, JPAS Manual, and OPSEC Manual, just to name a few. I prepared to take the exam by doing the courses provided by DSSA, reading the NISPOM and suggested manuals, and sitting in on the ISP preparation calls. I also purchased Jeff Bennett’s book for ISP preparation. This book contains four practice tests and it was important for me to test my knowledge and improve my time in answering the questions. The ISP exam is 2 hours with 110 questions giving you 1.5 mins. per question.
I was successful in getting my ISP certification and now lead an ISP Study Group. My present group is taking its exam in December. I will start another group January 18. This group meets every Tuesday from 11:30 until 1:00 here at AGT.
4. What contributed most to the success of your security program?
The biggest contribution to the success of any security program is the support of upper management. I also have a love for my country and (having four children) a need to protect the warfighter. I tell people that I can’t run through jungles or sand, but being enthusiastic about educating my company on how to protect themselves and the information entrusted to them and talking about security is what I can do for my country. If you have traveled anywhere outside this nation you know this is the greatest country in the world.