Sunny Jassal: At the Forefront of Cyber Security

“Hardly a day goes by without news of a new cyber threat or a data breach of a business. These events are a “wake-up” call for business leaders, decision-makers as well as our political leaders” says Sunny Jassal.

“Hardly a day goes by without news of a new cyber threat or a data breach of a business. These events are a “wake-up” call for business leaders, decision-makers as well as our political leaders” says Sunny Jassal.

Sunny Jassal has nearly two decades of professional experience within fast-paced fields of Information Technology (IT) and Cyber Security across various sectors. In addition to his B.Tech in Technology Management from BCIT, Sunny holds industry certifications such as, Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP). Sunny is currently employed as a Cyber Security Officer with BCIT.

Sunny cites his father, who is a research scientist at the UBC, and earned his Ph.D. from Oxford University in the UK, as a role model and inspiration. “In my early teens, I would hang around in his office and he would teach me some concepts of programming,” he recalls, “and soon, I had built up enough passion and knowledge that I was able to write code of my own. Throughout high school, outside of my regular studies, I had honed coding and was keen to pursue IT as a career.”

As a newly landed immigrant, Sunny’s career into IT started with him obtaining a role as a Computer Specialist with London Drugs. He worked part-time during the evenings and weekends while completing studies at BCIT during the day. He next secured an opportunity with Shaw Cable, where he gained further technical experience dealing with complex and challenging problems. “Having the support of a great community and a family allowed me to always look ahead, at the next move, to think about what I would do next”. After a few years with Shaw, Sunny decided to move on and found employment in the secure and regulated gaming industry. “That was where my passion for security developed!” he notes.

Sunny’s interest and passion for security resulted in taking a position with the North Vancouver RCMP, at a time when the RCMP was in the midst of migrating systems to PRIME-BC. Then Sunny decided to move on to healthcare, working for Doctors of BC. “I spent 12 years of my career in an environment that pushed me to grow, in four distinct roles, with the Director of IT being my last role.” “I have been very fortunate to be able to surround myself with leaders that have inspired me to be a better person.

In his current role as Cyber Security Officer with BCIT, Sunny provides leadership and oversight over all aspects of cyber security; ensuring critical systems and assets are protected and kept secure. He shares, “there is never a dull day in cyber security. I get to work with great leaders and some amazing teams”.

In addition to his employment in the field of cyber security, Sunny also volunteers within it. He serves on a number of boards where he provides strategic leadership and direction to various programs and initiatives. “I put myself out there to stretch, develop a new skill, help others and give back to the community in any way I can, at last, I received a gift and should pass it on”. When asked Sunny, what is the one thing that worries him about Cyber? Sunny shares, “the shortage of cyber professionals is definitely top of mind. The latest numbers for unfilled cyber jobs stands at over 4 million globally and over 400,000 just in North America.”

Sunny’s advice to aspiring cyber professionals: “Anyone who enters this field should have a general understanding of IT and have a passion for it. Having passion for something you wake up to and spend your day learning and doing great work is the key. When asked, what advice can you offer mentees, “Sometimes mentors don’t come to you, be ready and willing to look and ask for mentors, find people better than yourself and talk to them, and surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Stay focused and work hard, strive for great and don’t just settle for good.”

In his free time Sunny enjoys swimming in the open waters surrounding Vancouver. He firmly believes that taking care of yourself, both body and mind, is the first step to achieving anything. He relishes hiking and trekking and shares fond memories of the famous 75Km West Coast Trail. “The 75Km trek was a great self-reflection effort, and a gift I received through this experience is the therapy of cold showers. Now, I love cold showers!” Sunny is also an avid reader and what ignited his hidden passion and purpose were books like: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, “5 Levels of Leadership”, “Good Leaders ask Great Questions” and “Your Next Move” by John Maxwell. “These reads not only allowed me to become a better person but also paved my path into leadership”. Sunny shares one of his favourite quotes when settings and working with goals, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins.