Q&A Dec 18, 2023

Meet our Data Solutions Team: A Q&A with Raj Badhwar

Get to know Raj, our new VP of cybersecurity, and how he’s guiding digital defense with innovative security solutions.

Q&A with Raj Badhwar Jacobs VP, Cybersecurity

In today's interconnected world, cybersecurity and data protection are more crucial than ever. With cyber threats on the rise and the stakes of data breaches increasingly high, it's imperative to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving world of digital defense.

Leading the charge at Jacobs is Raj Badhwar, vice president of cybersecurity, with over 28 years of experience in cybersecurity and IT. Joining us in mid-2023, Raj brings his wealth of knowledge and expertise to navigate the complex landscape of cybersecurity and data protection.

Raj goes beyond bytes to explain how he navigates digital challenges, implements innovative solutions, and consistently secures our future in the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity in this Q&A.

Hi, Raj. Tell u us about your role at Jacobs.

As Vice President of Cybersecurity at Jacobs, I oversee critical cybersecurity functions – including cybersecurity engineering, architecture, operations, incident response, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Cyber Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) – globally. Over the past six months since joining Jacobs, I’ve have had the privilege to work with incredibly smart and talented people committed to collectively making a positive impact. I’m enthusiastic about continuing to serve, innovate and collaborate in the months and years to come.

How is the work you do helping deliver critical solutions for our company and clients?

Our work in cybersecurity is about spreading awareness and helping to educate our employees about their individual role in keeping our systems and data safe. It’s our collective efforts using the core security tenets of people, process and technology that will help ensure the long-term resilience of our company. We implement security controls and support proactive measures that not only meet government regulations but also help our business succeed. While our efforts secure our company and client data, they also give us an edge in the market, helping us attract and retain clients.

What initially sparked your interest in pursuing a career in cybersecurity and information technology?

After graduating with a bachelors of science in electrical and electronics engineering, I found myself captivated by cryptography. I kickstarted my career as a security engineer, focusing on secure software development, allowing me to integrate my fascination with cryptography into creating secure authentication systems. Beyond the regular 9-to-5 cybersecurity role, my ongoing research explores innovative areas, such as leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for advanced malware detection and automated incident response, which further also culminated into 14 U.S Patents and 4 books. Additionally, I delve into the realm of post-quantum cryptography (PQC) to safeguard against potential quantum computing threats and implement security controls based on the Zero Trust framework (trust no entity by default, but still verify). It's like upgrading our digital locks to make sure our secrets stay safe now and in the future.

Can you tell us about a project you’ve led or data security success you’re especially proud of?

I've made a focused effort with my team to enhance Jacobs' cybersecurity overall. I refreshed and authored key global security policies and standards based on NIST 800-53 (National Institute of Standards and Technology), kicked off couple of cybersecurity engineering and IAM initiatives, contributed cybersecurity expertise to a key business proposal to secure new data solutions business, and initiated a risk based and prioritized zero trust security enablement exercise. This exercise aims to improve cybersecurity maturity and reduce cyber risk by implementing effective yet practical security controls for data, network, cloud, and applications in line with our updated standards and policies.

The surge in security and privacy regulations over the last decade has heightened the risk of regulatory enforcement actions, and my GRC team is actively engaged in risk management while pursuing various certifications including but not limited to ISO 27001 and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) to stay compliant with all required regulations and security requirements.

But simultaneously, I enjoy providing hands-on technical leadership and mentorship to our IT and cybersecurity teams. Contributing to business proposals and representing Jacobs at conferences and industry events allows me to showcase our cybersecurity leadership.

“Our work in cybersecurity is about spreading awareness and helping to educate our employees about their individual role in keeping our systems and data safe. While our efforts secure our company and client data, they also give us an edge in the market, helping us attract and retain clients.”

Raj Badhwar

Raj Badhwar

Jacobs Vice President, Cybersecurity

How is cybersecurity evolving and what key technologies will shape its future? What role do you hope to play in shaping this transformation?

Overall, cybersecurity has advanced significantly in the last decade, with modern technologies and techniques emerging to protect organizations from cyber threats. These include Zero Trust architecture, a wide range of endpoint, data, cloud, network, identity, and application security technologies, improved product security through secure software development within the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines using the Development, Security and Operations (DevSecOps) paradigm, and the implementation of policy-as-code, infrastructure-as-code, and hardware-level security.

Moving forward, I aim to revolutionize incident response through the implementation of rapid, auto-reactive response systems powered by advanced machine learning, generative AI, and unsupervised learning, all while staying within ethical guidelines. As cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field, organizations must be vigilant and proactive in adopting these technologies to stay ahead of threats and maintain a strong security posture. That’s my goal for Jacobs – to help shape the future of cybersecurity and enable our business operations with greater confidence and protection.

What advice would you share with aspiring cybersecurity professionals? What was the best career advice you ever received?

Cybersecurity is a great, rewarding career for individuals who love problem-solving through practical solutions. If you enjoy teamwork and collaboration, and thrive on a mission-focused approach, then this is the industry for you. We believe our diversity makes us better and more secure – so we’re always looking for new, diverse, and eager talent.

Personally, I've found that focusing on continuous learning, having a mission focus with a can-do attitude, and prioritizing the needs of my team before mine have been the most valuable career advice I've received. It's helped me build a successful and fulfilling career in cybersecurity, and I hope it can do the same for aspiring professionals in the field. Additionally, maintaining a strong moral compass and a focus on ethical practices is crucial for success in cybersecurity, as it builds trust and credibility with colleagues and clients.

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

I’m thrilled to be a part of a company where I am actively engaged in shaping our evolving culture, revolutionizing our business practices, and introducing innovative solutions. The goal is to create a more connected, sustainable, and secure world around us.

About the interviewee

Raj Badhwar

An experienced leader, Raj Badhwar's journey spans 28 years in the field of cybersecurity and information technology (IT). His extensive credentials include roles such as Field Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Oracle, Global CISO at Voya Financial, and Global Head of Information Security at AIG – among others. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and now as VP of Cybersecurity, Raj brings his robust expertise to Jacobs.

Beyond his primary role in cybersecurity, he loves indulging in research areas like Zero Trust, post-quantum cryptography, the use of AI and ML paradigms for cybersecurity, all of which is reflected in his four published books. A devoted Washington Nationals baseball fan, he also has an affinity for sci-fi books, movies and shows that allow him to explore the limitless worlds of technology. Raj is also an amateur singer who can speak four languages.

Join #OurJacobs team

What drives you drives us as we work to build a better world – together. At Jacobs, every day is an opportunity to make the world better, more connected, more sustainable. We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision.

external Let's see the impact we can create, together