Meet All-Around IT Subject Matter Expert (and Part-Time Farmer) Richard Rieben

by CompTIA | Jan 12, 2015
richardr Richard Rieben

Richard Rieben started working in IT directly out of high school after garnering skills revolving around geographical information systems. Although he was working, Richard knew that educational credentials are an important part of any professional’s resume, so he enrolled and attended classes online and in-person and earned an associate’s degree in business management from Sinclair Community College around age 30.

He then continued his education at Western Governor’s University and completed a bachelor’s degree in business management and ultimately completed his MBA, focusing on IT Management.

In addition to his formal studies, Richard holds several industry certifications including the CompTIA Security+, Project+, Network+, and his CISSP, PMP, FITSP-M and Certified Scrum Master certifications.  

Which exams have you helped develop?

I have participated in multiple exam development events including workshops supporting the Project+ and CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certifications. In the future, I will be participating in exam development activities for the Network+ and Security+ exams.

How did you get into IT?

In high school, I took a course that introduced me to a variety of computer-based activities, including geographical information systems (GIS). After graduation, my knowledge of GIS led me to a job supporting the network mapping requirements for a large telecommunications company.

Aside from this, my true introduction to IT came in the form of a systems administrator position I took with a dot-com company. This position allowed me to learn about enterprise IT systems. A few years later, I took advantage of an opportunity to assist in starting a helpdesk that supported the students, faculty and staff at a small liberal arts college in Buena Vista, Virginia. My personal life took me to Ohio where, after working as a systems administrator and IT manager, I ultimately took on a role providing cybersecurity and IT project management expertise as a contractor for the United States Air Force.

How did you begin volunteering for CompTIA as a subject matter expert (SME)?

I applied through the website for the CompTIA SME program because I have an interest in contributing to the IT industry. For a number of years I have provided mentoring support to individuals working towards industry certifications and enjoyed helping other people work towards their own certification goals.

I was first asked to participate in a series of workshops focused on the CASP exam and then participated in Project+ development efforts alongside an excellent group of SMEs and CompTIA personnel. After participating in several workshops, I was invited to join the CompTIA subject matter expert technical advisory committee.

What do you get out of volunteering with CompTIA as a subject matter expert?

The opportunity to associate with other leaders in the IT industry is valuable to me as an individual, as well as to my employer. It is exciting to see how different experiences and specialties yield different perspectives when looking at the same challenges related to security, project management or networking.

What do you do for your day job?

As an information system security manager, I develop and review necessary documentation for certification and authorization efforts based on NIST standards. I evaluate cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities to determine required safeguards for a wide range of cybersecurity related domains. I conduct tests and validation activities for various security controls and work with external organizations to plan and execute continuity of operations activities.

As a contracted technical project manager in support of a program management office that oversees depot maintenance software applications for United States Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio, I lead various information technology and cybersecurity projects in support of USAF systems and user communities.

As an operations manager for Robbins Gioia, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, I manage prime and sub-contractor relationships and oversee the execution of work tasks in support of applicable performance work statements. I help clients assess and overcome gaps in their cybersecurity postures through implementation of cybersecurity processes, procedures and advanced technologies, enabling organizations to understand their risk and become empowered with the tools needed to adapt defenses to combat ongoing cyber-threats. I establish and evaluate performance against contract performance measures while managing gross margin, budgets, expenses and invoices for individual contracts. I facilitate personnel development and supervise a team of employees in support of customer requirements.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids on our small farm in Clayton, Ohio. We raise a variety of animals on our farm including sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and miniature donkeys. I also enjoy working on vehicles and have recently been restoring a 1948 Ford 8N tractor that we use for various chores around the farm. One of my favorite hobbies, which helped drive my interest in IT, is participating in the amateur radio community. I’ve been licensed since the age of 15 and currently hold an amateur extra class license.

Do you have any advice for people considering volunteering with CompTIA as a subject matter expert?

If you enjoy taking certification exams more than you should, the CompTIA SME community might be the perfect place for you! One of my peers in the program recently said, “developing a good exam takes a lot of work, and the SMEs are a big part of that effort, along with the absolutely fabulous staff at CompTIA.” Most importantly, don’t be shy! If you think you can contribute and you meet all of the desired criteria, consider applying for a program in your area of expertise.

What’s your advice to people interested in pursuing a career in IT?

First, start with the basics! Keep in mind that IT is a field that is constantly shifting in terms of tools and technologies, but if you want to break into IT as a career field be sure to address soft skills that don’t have an end-of-life date and are always in demand. Hiring managers want employees that can think on their own and communicate effectively with co-workers and superiors.

Second, find yourself a mentor! Many employers have mentorship programs but if yours doesn’t, ask about finding one! A mentor can be found through industry associations, LinkedIn groups or Internet forums. Don’t hesitate to look for help as you navigate the early years of your career. There are plenty of individuals who were in your shoes five, ten, or even twenty years ago and are willing to help you out – you just have to ask. CompTIA also has mentoring programs such as Advancing Women in IT and the Creating IT Futures Foundation that benefit those involved.

Third, never stop learning! Employers value employees who take their own future seriously and those that are willing to invest their time, energy and attention to continual improvement through education, certification or on-the-job training. Not only will continual self-improvement help you advance within your organization, it will also help ready you to take the “next step” in your career if you find yourself moving to a new organization.

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