"I'm an ethical hacker," Paul says with a smile. "Like what you see in the movies, but not as glamorous." Whatever you compare it to, Paul's work in cyber defense comes with its own kind of endurance challenge. If someone is out to discover a weakness in a company application or network, they have the luxury of time. But Paul's team has to work as thoroughly as possible, to uncover any potential point of vulnerability before someone else does. It's an endurance challenge he compares to his passion for cycling, because both require tireless dedication to the journey whether he's looking at a 4-hour cycling experience or a critical software study. The end goal is always the same: get to the end and make it count.
How do you describe your job to family and friends?
The best way to describe it is ethical hackers. It's like you see in the movies, where someone breaks into a system and gets information, only of course not as glamorous. We look for vulnerabilities and risks within the company web applications and networks, and we try to find holes in the technology before the hackers do.
What are some of the greatest challenges you need to take on in order to be successful in your role?
Time. A hacker might have 6 months to look through an application and try to find all its weakness, but we only have a couple of weeks. We've got teams of people in the background working to make sure every single person's data is protected.
When you’re facing those challenges, what are some of your personal strengths and abilities that come into play?
Patience, curiosity and determination help me in this role because it can take time to break in and find vulnerabilities. I have to be able to look at an application and do things the developer didn't want me to do.
How do those same elements show up in the passions and interests you pursue outside of work?
On the bike, I also have to be patient and determined because I'm going out for 4-5 hours and I'm just going to cycle. Whatever the road throws at you, you have to overcome because you're competing against others but you're also competing against yourself. That's also what we face in cyber security.
How have you grown at UnitedHealth Group?
I've grown within the company because the management structure is good. Security is taken seriously and the managers are here to make sure we have everything we need.
What’s the most important thing someone should know before joining our company?
You should know where you want to go in your career, because they can make that happen for you. They want to be the biggest health care company in the world, and you can be part of that if you do the work.
If you weren’t working at UnitedHealth Group or doing what you do today, what would you be doing?
Health and fitness are important to me, so I'd be doing something in that. Maybe working in the vegan deli my wife owns.
Favorite person, living or dead?
I've always admired Bill Gates. He's a good guy at heart and he does a lot with his money – he tries to help.
What is your favorite food?
My wife makes a wonderful vegan mousse.
What is your favorite movie and why?
It's a Wonderful Life – I watch it every Christmas, and I always cry at the end.
What do few people know about you that they would be surprised to learn?
I think people are surprised to know I have a more sensitive side.
What are you most grateful for?
My family and my health. My mom used to say as long as you have love, food and a home, you'll always have enough.