Featured CLIMBER: Patrick Trierweiler  

Featured CLIMBER: Patrick Trierweiler  

Employees at A-LIGN take many different paths throughout their journey—that’s why we sat down with Senior Consultant, Patrick Trierweiler, as this month’s Featured CLIMBER. Read below to learn how Patrick began his career at A-LIGN, why he thinks cybersecurity is important and more! 

Where are you from, and how did you begin your career at A-LIGN?   

I was born in Atlanta, Georgia but my dad was in the Army, so my family moved around quite a bit when I was growing up. Eventually, my family settled down in Tallahassee, Florida, where my dad was originally from. I attended Florida State University where I studied Information Technology and worked at the FSU Career Center. While working at one of the FSU career fairs, I bumped into A-LIGN’s COO, Steve Simmons, where he and some of the senior auditors told me more about the firm and what they do. While speaking with Steve and swapping stories with the other auditors who were there, I realized that many of my skills worked really well in auditing. I’ve always loved taking things apart, putting them back together, and just learning how they work. IT audit mixes all my interests together and it’s been so fun to do this as my job. 

Tell me about your role as a Senior Consultant at A-LIGN.  

As a Senior Consultant, I assist with training our new hires and getting them up to speed as they begin their new roles. I’ve written some of the internal trainings and I’m currently working on some technical trainings for our team. Additionally, I help with our enterprise clients that have very complex systems and use cutting-edge technology, and it’s so amazing to be able to go under the hood, talk to those process owners, and learn how things work. When I’m not working with my enterprise clients, I work with startups. Being able to actually assist these companies through readiness assessments, helping them set their systems up, and setting up their KPIs are just a few of the things I help my clients with. I’ve learned a ton and worked with some really amazing people year after year and I truly enjoy what I do. 

What is the best part about working at A-LIGN? 

I love having the flexibility of working remote. It was one of the biggest selling points for me when I was searching for jobs. I’ve worked remotely even before the COVID-19 pandemic, so when the rest of the world was getting used to remote work, we had already mastered it. I’ve gotten used to the flexibility and I really love it! 

Why do you think cybersecurity is important? 

Everything touches cybersecurity and it is still so poorly understood. I recently had a conversation with some of my colleagues about the Log4j vulnerability and how it was publicized due to Minecraft hackers, who noticed an exploit in a video game, not by cybersecurity professionals. With so much of the world running on this code, and those same languages, this shows that cybersecurity is an ever shifting landscape, so you must be prepared and stay well-informed. 

Something I really like that we do at A-LIGN, especially in our SOC practice, is that we look at all potential risks including at the operational level. We test the human element in a way that’s usually only romanticized when discussing social engineering. It’s a really important side of cybersecurity that many organizations neglect. As entities don’t think about how flaws with performance evaluations processes, how their KPIs are being tracked, and even shared drive management, is going to affect the threat level of a cyberattack.  

Can you tell me about the culture within A-LIGN’s SOC practice? 

The culture in A-LIGN’s SOC practice is all about active learning as well as continuous growth. It’s so enjoyable being around so many people from such diverse backgrounds and learning from one another’s experiences. We don’t operate in the standard hierarchy where my manager is more experienced than me, worked here before me, and has used these systems before. Instead, we have people who come from internal audit backgrounds, front end dev backgrounds, and other experiences that we can all build on together and learn from each other.  

What is a work-related accomplishment you’re proud of? 

I’m proud to say that I have closed over 100 projects, which is really encouraging as someone in their mid-twenties. It feels great to think back on my experience and lean on those projects to see the patterns and risks that I’ve come across and apply that knowledge to the new projects I’m working on. 

Which of our values (Be All In, Commit to Quality, Do the Right Thing Always, Innovate Constantly) do you identify with most and why? 

Do the right thing always. In everything that you do, you have to look at it from an ethical standpoint and evaluate the risks to ensure that we’re doing the right thing for our clients and our client’s customers. As an auditor, you have to make many judgement calls, so it’s important that you’re making those decisions based on sound judgement. You can work as hard as you want, but if you’re not doing it from the right foundation, you’re just making a lot of mistakes quickly. 

What is the best advice you could give someone trying to enter the industry? 

Dive in head-first and begin researching the industry and listening to cybersecurity podcasts and you’ll start to pick up on the lingo and build upon that knowledge. If you’re anything like me, sometimes I find myself down a Google rabbit hole, where I’ve been researching and then next thing I know, it’s midnight and I’m halfway through a training course. Or maybe you take five minutes a day to look up cybersecurity-related articles regarding recent breaches and see what went wrong or where things are improving. Submerge yourself in the culture and learn at your own pace and from there, you’ll begin thinking like a cybersecurity professional and things will become easier. 

What do you do for fun outside of work?   

I have quite a few hobbies. I love playing video games, hiking, camping, and I even do some fiction writing on the side. I also run multiple tabletop RPG games for some of my friends. I run them virtually and enjoy creating and designing maps, characters, and new mechanics. With the pandemic, it’s been a while since I’ve traveled but I hope to get back to it soon and it’s a dream of mine to visit Zion National Park.