Federal Spotlight: Darryl E. Peek II
Darryl E. Peek II serves as a Senior IT Specialist in Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), Office of Cybersecurity and Communication (CS&C), Federal Network Resilience (FNR) Division. Here’s our interview with Darryl.
MC: How long have you been in Federal Service and what is your main responsibility in your role today?
DP: I have been in Federal service two and a half years. I started my career off supporting the Intelligence Community (IC) and after doing that for a number of years I then worked as contractor support for the Department of State (DoS) Information Assurance office performing cybersecurity-related activities. Currently, my primary responsibility is associated with cybersecurity strategy, policy and planning, which entails me performing outreach for DHS Network Defense Capabilities, cyber strategic planning, and providing input to cyber legislative mandates which include Executive Orders, OMB Memorandums and FISMA requiring DHS review. I’m also the lead for process improvement for the FNR Division, and the FNR SharePoint lead; I helped in re-branding the division’s internal and external websites in order to make it more user-friendly for our employees and more informative for our stakeholders and visitors.
Further, I am the CS&C Employee Advisory Council president, which is the intermediate between the Assistant Secretary and the CS&C employees, voicing employee concerns, as well as spearheading employee morale building activities, or team building activities. Finally, I am the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), dealing with the majority of the human capital performance-related activities within the organization. I coordinate with the CS&C Chief of Staff, as well as with my position’s leadership in order to ensure that employees’ needs are fulfilled and that we are hiring, maintaining, and retaining the best and the brightest.
MC: What keeps you motivated and passionate to stay in the public sector?
DP: The DHS mission is very intriguing to me because it directly impacts me and my quality of life. I not only work as a government employee, but as a concerned citizen who wants to ensure that my family and my friends maintain the quality of life that the United States offers its citizens. That’s what really inspires me to wake up and give my best every day in order to reflect the fact that we have a big mission – our mission is to protect the homeland from a cyber perspective and that’s what I enjoy.
MC: What is one of your biggest achievements?
DP: Well, meeting the President was very cool. It was only for a brief amount of time, I was actually escorting him for a briefing on cybersecurity. I could just see the confidence in him which was awesome. He was very gracious to the DHS staff. He talked to me and said “Thanks for having us, what’s your name, thank you for what you do.” It was the extent of the conversation but it was memorable, definitely.
I was also on what I call the dream team panel for cybersecurity technology and information technology. I was on the panel with Vint Cerf, who is noted as an inventor of the Internet; Dr. Ron Ross who leads the development of IT security standards and guidelines for the Federal government; Chris Inglis, who was the former Deputy Director of the NSA; Dr. David A. Bray who is the CIO of FCC; and myself. To be in that caliber of leaders was amazing. There was also the fact that I represented DHS at the Federal CIO Council Conference.
Personally, one of my accomplishments that I hold near and dear is being a coach of a Damascus Soccer Club U-8 team which my son plays. It is a remarkable experience to work with energetic boys who enjoy learning the game of soccer. We just finished our fall season and the Tornadoes did excellent.
I’ve received a number of awards, but my greatest desire is to assist or help the nation and the people within it. I am a humble person; based on my upbringing my desire is to help since I have been helped by many growing up. I want to give people information and outcomes that they can use –and turn it into something great.
MC: What advice would you share on making public service a career and not a pit stop?
DP: I came from industry, but coming into government is just different. And when I say that, one of the realities of working for an organization or a company is that you only know your capability. You don’t necessarily know how it fits in the grand scheme of things. And you may know your competitor’s capabilities but you don’t know what it all strategically aligns for your customers. However, in the government, which I find is very cool, is the fact that we’re so close to the legislation, so when there’s mandates issued to the government in regards to IT or cybersecurity, the government personnel have to respond based on the resources and capabilities available. That’s a responsibility you don’t really have as a contractor. You can only influence it. That aspect gives me so much vision and understanding.
MC: What advice would you share with young people on entering government?
DP: If you are talented and you know your craft, then you have tons of opportunity and you have leaders within the government who recognize your abilities and will nurture you in order to become a leader of tomorrow. My suggestion is to know your craft and understand what really makes government tick. If you understand the legislation, the decisions, the hierarchy and the various levels of government, you’ll be able to understand how your organization fits within it. What’s your organization’s mission? Because if you don’t align with the mission that you choose, then you won’t fall in love with it, and I think you have to fall in love with the mission in order to effectively execute it.
If you’re in government, you’ve heard of the janitor who told President Kennedy his mission was to put a man on the moon. I think what’s becoming more evident, is that it’s less about generational divides and more about partnership. If we all can align and think about owning a piece of mission, then it makes the result much greater.
*Answers reflect Darryl’s own personal views and do not reflect those in his official capacity.
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