Owner and Consultant Music City Cyber
Areas of Expertise: Networking, Operations, Product Design, Technology
Joe Thomas is a Nashville-based technologist, advisor, and security leader. Joe has built and managed the security and technical infrastructure for a top-10 Inc. 500 online payments company, managed security compliance programs for healthcare enterprises, and assisted start-ups with business modeling, product development, and technical architecture.
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Q. What excites you most about the Wond’ry?
A. For me, re-entering the Vanderbilt community to find students and staff engaged in the study and practice of building businesses and impact organizations is exciting. When I left Vandy 20+ years ago, I never imagined that the university would offer a learning center for entrepreneurship. It’s very cool and I would like to be a part of it.
Q. What do you feel are the most important skills you have to offer in your role as a mentor?
A. As mentor, I aim to help founders think critically about the problems they encounter: to question their assumptions, think creatively, and break problems down into manageable tasks. My subject-matter know-how is working with technology, operations, and security to create reasonable, economical solutions to business challenges.
Q. What has been your proudest moment in your career?
A. My proudest moment is leaving a position at a company that grew from a startup to a mature business. I am proud that I was able to leave that position with the feeling that I helped create a positive work culture, systems and processes that could survive without me, and a stable business employing over 50 people.
Q. What has surprised you most about your job?
A. As an advisor, I have been surprised by the range of backgrounds that people who start businesses have. It is heartening to see young people just out of college all the way through people after retirement take on the challenge of building an organization around an idea about which they are passionate.
Q. If you could do everything over again, would you make the same career choices?
A. Well, no. Knowing what I know now and doing it over again, I would take more career and business risks at a younger age. In 1999 I was living in San Francisco, being there at that time again I would do everything in my power to get a job at Google to watch the company’s growth from the inside.
Q. In your opinion, what is the most important quality for success?
A. I believe there are two important qualities for success; critical thinking and curiosity. The ability to challenge assumptions, use logic and reason, and empathy help us understand each other and how the world works. A strong interest in the how’s and why’s motivates us to keep looking for answers and understanding.
Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A. For a long time I wanted to be an astronaut. I spent a week at Space Camp when I was about 11.