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Tim Thompson Jr, 39Principal engineerUnion Pacific Railroad
Nominator’s quote: “One [of] Tim’s biggest challenges to overcome throughout his career has been building and establishing a culture of cybersecurity awareness. He believes it is vital to nurture relationships within the organization so that he is viewed as a strategic partner instead of a ‘roadblock’ to success.” — Beth Whited, Union Pacific Railroad
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, University of Nebraska Omaha.
Job responsibilities: Leading technical implementations of cybersecurity solutions, designing secure enterprise architecture, logging analytics, detection engineering and critical incident response.
Career path: Hired at UP as an intern in March 2006 and accepted a full-time position with the information assurance team after graduating. Has held multiple roles on the team in researching, implementing and maintaining security solutions; leading security initiatives for positive train control; designing secure architecture for industrial control systems; and acting as technical lead for all cybersecurity events.
How did you get into the rail industry? UP’s former chief information security officer came to our campus for a lunch event. I was fascinated with the challenges he discussed and applied for an internship soon afterward.
What is the best career advice you’ve received so far? Don’t be afraid to take risks and create opportunities for yourself. Learn from your mistakes and use them to grow.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? Develop an inquisitive mindset. Ask questions relentlessly and build your understanding of how your work makes a difference.
What was your first job? I was a cashier at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium IMAX theater.
Share a fun fact about yourself. I am an avid University of Nebraska football fan, and love animals — I have two cats and two dogs.
If you could have dinner with anyone alive in the world, who would it be and why? John Oliver, because of his ability to tackle complex issues in a way that is both informative and entertaining. He uses his platform to highlight important issues and call attention to systemic injustices.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why? My parents. They have always encouraged me to pursue my passions and to work hard to achieve my goals. They are always there to offer support and encouragement whenever I need it.
Describe a major obstacle in your career and how you surmounted it. Building and establishing a culture of cybersecurity at the railroad. It is vital to nurture relationships within the organization so that I am viewed as a strategic partner instead of a roadblock to success. I am entrusted with working directly with customers (internal and external) to ensure they embrace attitudes and beliefs that drive secure behaviors.