The Importance of Fundamentals

Headshot of Daniel Gortze

Daniel Gortze, RWU Class of 2010

Major:  Cybersecurity & Networking

How do you make your business secure enough so people can’t break into it, while also making sure it's not overly protected to the point where the business can’t function? It’s a puzzle that RWU alum Daniel Gortze ’10 faces as the Director of IT Security and Infrastructure at Cumberland Farms. Every day, he works hand-in-hand with the company’s CIO and leadership team to strike the perfect balance between achieving the business’ needs and protecting the business' network.

Before attending Roger Williams University, Gortze considered himself as nothing more than a hobbyist, someone who was capable of more than the average computer user. But after gaining a strong foundation of computer and security basics and the flexibility of classes allowing him to dive into his individual interests, he eventually turned his hobby into a full-time career.

“A lot of the fundamentals don’t change,” Gortze said. “There’s always new technology, and you have to stay up-to-date on that, but the fundamentals of how computers function, how to process code and how networks operate, at a very basic level, remain the same. Roger Williams gave me a foundation in those and gave me the connections to really stay abreast of new technologies.”

Those fundamental skills Gortze has taken with him throughout his post-graduate career began with the 100 and 200 level courses where he dove into the world of computers, learning first about the hardware and physical pieces of what makes a computer run. As the courses progressed, he gained the knowledge of how to configure and maintain networks and the security measures in keeping those networks safe and secure. He also credits the program’s flexibility in allowing him to craft his education in a more specific security focus, which aided him in landing his current position.

“The program was really designed well to set you up with the foundations you need. It was really focused on practical skills and Doug [White] does a really good job keeping up with the industry and the skills that employers want to see,” Gortze said.

But it was more than just the courses that taught Gortze the skills he needed to succeed. It was the faculty members who taught them that helped guide him along his path. In the School of Justice Studies, the professors are more than just professors. They are experts in the industry and teach not only the theoretical concepts but what to expect when you are out in the real world.

“Adjunct connections were really important as I entered the field,” Gortze said. “Spending time with them both in and out of the classroom gave me an understanding of what’s really expected in the industry. Listen to those professors that have experience in the field, they’ll guide you well.”

Although it may be almost ten years since Gortze graduated from RWU, he still remembers and has relied on those fundamental skills and faculty connections to create his own security program at Cumberland Farms and to help it evolve over time to make a long-term impact for the company.