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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Building Cyber Business

Will Garrett M.B.A. ’12 helps explain why cybersecurity is so important for the city of San Antonio

By Michelle Mondo

When Will Garrett started working at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce in 2007, he got some advice from then-boss Joe Krier. Now a city councilman, Krier told Garrett to go back to school for an M.B.A. Garrett chose UTSA because of the business program's reputation, he says, and he found that going to school while working meant he could apply what he learned in real time. Recently chosen to head the chamber's new cybersecurity business development program, Garrett spoke with Sombrilla Magazine about why cybersecurity is such an important market for the city, how San Antonio plans to cultivate that market, and where UTSA fits into the scheme.

Why is cybersecurity so important to San Antonio?
What we see is a very strong baseline competitively in cybersecurity, and shame on us if we don’t double down on this and create an ecosystem that accelerates an industry. From a community standpoint, it’s about having higher paying jobs, bringing in a talented workforce. It’s only a growth industry. In the recession San Antonio fared well because we had a diverse industry base, but it can be hard in marketing to define who we are as a city. This is one sector where we have a legitimate play to be made. We have the second biggest cluster of cybersecurity assets in the nation outside of Washington, D.C.

What will a bigger cyber market mean for San Antonio?
We can break it down into a few parts. One part would be bringing new businesses to San Antonio. There’s the classic economic-development strategy of bringing larger businesses—a business that would make headlines in the paper—to make an investment, for example. Businesses like Symantec, McAfee—those big firewall firms all have service centers employing about 100 to 200 people in each center. Other examples are services, or dealing with problems as they happen. Some have offices here; some are just headquartered.

The second part is organic growth here. That comes from support for cybersecurity companies that are already in San Antonio. We need to support all of those. So we have to create an environment for that.

Why is San Antonio better positioned than other cities for that business?
It’s a good location to have a service center. We have low real estate costs, the space, and affordable energy; we have our own power grid. There are a lot of positives. So there’s a play to be made in close coordination with city council and economic development relocation to San Antonio.

Where does UTSA fit in?
Across the nation—from an IT, tech, and cybersecurity standpoint—there are very few places with excess talent, whether programmers, network administrators, or security professionals. That is something where UTSA is a leader, training and educating our future workforce. We’re working closely with UTSA to look at how we accelerate everything the university is doing and to closely connect the business community with the university. From my program’s standpoint, it’s making sure business helps with curriculum alignment and degree-program creation. We need graduates to go out and work in the industry here in San Antonio.


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