Mike Knox, BS’08, credits two major life experiences for giving him a strong foundation from which to take on his latest role as a cybercrime fighter: a three-year stint as a pitcher in the New York Yankees minor league system and a finance degree from the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
“There are quite a few parallels between the Yankees organization and UTD,” he said. “There’s their reputations, and the teamwork aspects. There were so many opportunities to do group work in the finance program. I think that is such a powerful way to learn, build your critical thinking skills and grow your team-building and business skills.”
Although Knox could throw a 96 mile-per-hour fastball, an injury forced him to look ahead to a post-baseball career. Having roots in Dallas, he returned to the Metroplex and enrolled at the Jindal School based on its reputation as a technologically advanced and academically focused university.
As a player in the Yankees organization, he had immersed himself in the technical aspects of baseball by learning how to throw a change-up. As a finance student at the Jindal School, he mastered presentation and communication skills, case studies — all of which help him not only to succeed in his current role but also to reach his goal of owning his own business.
“I loved my time both at UTD and with the Yankees and remember them both fondly,” he said. “They both absolutely had a huge impact on what I’m doing now and what I plan to do.”
After graduation, he embarked on his career with stops at DLT Solutions and Oracle as an account executive. Moreover Technologies recruited him in 2014 to be its vice president of sales and grow its North America territory prior to it being acquired by LexisNexis, where he worked his way up to regional vice president for the Americas.
Last year, Knox undertook his latest challenge — leading the sales efforts at Nehemiah Security, a cybersecurity software and services company, as senior vice president of sales.
“The challenges in the cybersecurity industry keep growing in complexity,” he said. “Hackers aren’t sitting on their hands. They’re going out there and trying to exploit some of our most important corporations, financial centers and healthcare systems.”
Knox wanted to take on the challenges he faces at Nehemiah because of the company’s approach, which is to provide credible, actionable data to cybersecurity professionals so that they can prioritize threats and better allocate resources to fight them.
“I’m really passionate about what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re uniquely positioned to be able to help.”
Whenever he attends leadership meetings at Nehemiah, he draws upon his experiences with both the Yankees and UT Dallas.
“I work with product development and marketing and sometimes have to be able to influence to help support our revenue growth,” he said. “The foundation I built at UTD and with the Yankees showed me that it all comes down to teamwork and group work. Anyone can time a fastball, so I had to rely on my team to help me win. The same thing applied to the group work I did at UTD, and it certainly applies to business as well.”
— Jimmie R. Markham