As technology and our use of it continues to grow there is more data being gathered on user. This data is often sensitive and constantly requires new forms of protection which has led many governments to implement legislation and rules that companies have to adhere to over the last decade which has caused significant growth in the cyber security industry. One entrepreneur who noticed this trend relatively early, upskilled, and is now running a seven-figure business helping companies and IT professionals get up to speed with cybersecurity is Boyd Clewis, founder of Baxter Clewis Consulting.
Boyd had an unorthodox entry into the IT industry. Originally from Fort Worth Texas, he grew up in a fairly modest environment but had a family which emphasized the value of education. Following this direction, he enrolled in college when the appropriate time came but eventually dropped out after a year “I liked to learn but always knew formal education was not for me” he recalls. He then entered the workforce working in accounts receivables for a few years, eventually at one of the largest copy companies in Dallas.
Unfortunately, a few years in as the company relocated their offices he was made redundant. This was a particularly rough time for Boyd as he had kids to feed, rent to pay, and was unemployed. However, this experience did give him the impetus to seek a career change and learn about an industry he was genuinely passionate about leading him to IT.
A Career Transition
With relatively little resources Boyd could not enroll on a formal course so spent his time reading, watching YouTube videos, and experimenting on old second-hand PCs to learn about IT. Over time as he was able to display his skills he managed to get work at several small local companies that serviced other small businesses. These weren’t the largest or most prestigious companies but the small nature of the businesses and diversity of sectors from healthcare to the automotive industry helped accelerate his learning curve.
After a few years, he realized it was time to upskill and seek a better role. He was fortunate to have got his foot in the door without a formal qualification but was working the night shift which left little time for him to spend with his family as he would sleep throughout the day. An area he had noticed was of increased importance in the IT world was cybersecurity so he started learning and reading up on the space as a way to open new opportunities. As luck would have it, one day at work his manager called him in for a meeting. The company was behind on a cybersecurity audit and his manager wanted him to have a look to see if he could get them up to date on the necessary systems for security around credit card data.
He took the opportunity as a way to practically apply some of the knowledge he had been learning and the company successfully passed the audit. This led to a promotion away from the night shift and after receiving positive feedback from the auditor also acted as additional impetus to continue learning about this area of IT.
Once his skill set and knowledge reached a level he was comfortable with he updated his CV and Linkedin profile and started applying for new roles. He was contacted by a few recruiters and eventually landed an interview at American Airlines, he didn’t get the job in the end however, the mere fact he was interviewing at an institution like that given his unorthodox background gave him further conviction he was on the right path. Two years later he was contacted by American Airlines for a role as a Senior Security Architect where he would be helping them design strategies and systems to protect them and their customers when accepting credit card payments.
Baxter Clewis Consulting
Boyd excelled at his role at American Airlines and started to get requests from conferences and other Fortune 500 companies asking if he would be interested in doing consultancy work and helping them build systems and frameworks. Given the potential fines many companies could face as government regulation started to come in, these companies were willing to pay a significant amount to offset the risk. It was here he decided to set up his consulting firm, Baxter Clewis Consulting, where he would consult for the companies and also travel globally to countries such as Italy, Canada, and Australia speaking at conferences and running workshops.
Within a year his consultancy firm was bringing in 7 figure revenue but something he realized was missing from their offering wasn’t teaching or speaking to the wider organization about how they could improve their security but educating IT professionals who may want to upskill to improve their career prospects the way he did. He set up an academy where they did 1-day boot camps and taught people skills they could use to enhance their careers. As the Covid-19 pandemic hit this quickly moved online which “turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened” as he was able to reach significantly more people and offer his course in a flexible format.
To date, the Academy has helped over 300 IT professionals who were low-skilled advance their careers through increased knowledge of cybersecurity. The company's revenues have continued to grow and they have built out a team that Boyd and his wife manage together. Looking further down the line in addition to the academy and continued consulting work they intend to build out an agency where they can place the best students from their academy into leading roles in the cyber security space. It’s been an unorthodox, tough journey and aside from the increased income Boyd has been able to generate he is particularly proud that he is also helping others from the type of background he came from to realize and achieve their potential if they’re willing to learn and put in the work.