In 2018, Cheffren Canady graduated from the CU Dual Degree program with an MS in TCP and MBA from the Leeds School of Business. He is now Director of Sales Engineering for the Zayo Group, and is also an Army Veteran. Recently, TCP had the chance to sit down with Cheffren and discuss his experience during his academic career, and now in his professional life.
Why did you decide to do the CU Dual MS in TCP and MBA from the Leeds School of Business?
For me, it was more of “what do I want to do when I grow up” kind of mindset. CU’s dual degrees were the primary attractor that brought me to CU. I first joined the Leeds MBA program because I wanted to complement my logistical experience from the Army with business acumen and knowledge, as well as the MS in Computer Science. After my first semester, I realized that I was much more technical than the MBA but wouldn’t be able to meet the CS requirements without a formal CS background.
My passion lies more on the strategic side, so looking at how to optimize a system as well as how to make the people that are part of this system more efficient to produce excellent results. I stumbled upon the TCP program, then called the Interdisciplinary Telecom Program. This seemed like the perfect fit – it complimented my own networking and security experience from home and the military, as well as provided me the policy and business experience.
What do you do in your current role and how has TCP helped prepare you for this?
I am the Director of Zayo’s Solutions Engineering Team. We work with the sales team and product managers and engineers so we can deliver the right service that is being ordered from the customer. My unique background with the MS in TCP and the MBA is a necessary bridge between business and engineering. I can speak both languages, which is critical to my role and our team’s success. I am doing something that I've always done as a hobby, and now I'm getting paid to do that, which is awesome.
For a student considering the TCP degree program or any degree or career in the cybersecurity or networking fields, what advice would you give them?
Regardless of your background, first and foremost, get your feet - wet whether it's networking, focusing on policy, cybersecurity, whatever it may be. Then you have to get out there and experience subject matter coming from the field, and based on the unique experiences you already have, look at what kind of trajectory you want to be on. I'll be the first one to tell you it's very hard to go after something that you're not good at, but if you put in the time and effort, you're going to get good at it.
Tell us a bit about your graduate research project and experience in TCP’s Designing for Defense (D4D) during the Spring of 2018.
For the research project, my team built an algorithm within an AWS S3 environment that analyzed network data from the CU Engineering Discovery Learning Center’s network to detect IoT devices and determine if they were harmful or not.
The scope our D4D project was to develop a system capable of scanning and providing visualizations of subterranean structures to determine if there were any potential threats present. We started out designing a big robot and all this stuff, but at the end of the day we created a sensor array that could be deployed on any ground vehicle.
Final thoughts on the TCP Program?
I wouldn't be where I am if it wasn't for TCP and D4D. The program providing external engagement opportunities with industry, such as industry expert instructors, D4D, the graduate research, I was able to network and identify these positions and opportunities.
Cheffren is an outstanding example of the benefits students can gain from CU’s Dual Degree program and the TCP program. You can learn more about Cheffren Canady on his LinkedIn page.