Meet Quiana Gainey.
An innovative cybersecurity leader and philanthropist, Quiana is working to increase diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity and information technology.
An Air Force veteran who moved to Northern Virginia in 2004, Quiana now works to modernize, transform and secure the digital experience for government entities as the CEO of SecureTech360.
The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority sat down with Quiana to learn more about her role at SecureTech360, what inspired her passion for STEM and what drove her to start not one but two companies (and a non-profit organization) in Northern Virginia.
Thanks for joining us, Quiana. We’re really looking forward to talking to you. So, how long have you lived and worked in Northern Virginia and what brought you to the area?
I have lived and worked in Northern Virginia for over 15 years. I moved here when I was on active duty and loved it so much that I decided to stay after I transitioned into the civilian sector.
What do you like about living and working in Northern Virginia?
This region has a passion and entrepreneurial spirit for IT and cybersecurity that makes it an ideal home for innovative and diverse startups like SecureTech360 and nonprofits like MySecureKid.
Speaking of SecureTech360 and MySecureKid, what inspired you to create them?
SecureTech360 was started in 2010 based on a former employer encouraging me to go after my dreams. I had a very successful transition out of the military into the civilian sector and wanted to create opportunities for other women, veterans and minorities looking to pursue a career in IT and cybersecurity.
My passion for STEM and cybersecurity dates to when I was a child. I was always a curious kid who wanted to learn new things, come up with solutions, experiment and explore. STEM — particularly technology — was the ultimate answer to my curiosity. It is through STEM that I get to fulfill one of my greatest goals of being part of the solution in a world with constant, dynamic problems. MySecureKid is an amalgamation of my passion for technology, cybersecurity, and my relentless desire to inspire the next generation of women and minorities to view the IT and cybersecurity career field in the same light as being a doctor or lawyer.
Why should an individual in tech or a military veteran choose to live and work in Northern Virginia? What other advice would you share with people looking to start a career in Northern Virginia?
Virginia’s leading position in the technology sector makes it an ideal home for veterans wanting to live and work in the area. My advice for anyone looking to start a career or open a business in the Northern Virginia region is to get a mentor and sign up for local workshops hosted by organizations like the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Community Business Partnership, Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). These organizations have been instrumental to the continued success of SecureTech360 and MySecureKid.
Switching gears here, we have to ask: What’s your perfect weekend in Northern Virginia?
The perfect weekend in Northern Virginia is anytime I can spend with family and friends enjoying the beauty of all the national parks and hanging out at local events and festivals like the Manassas African American Heritage Festival.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
To my 18-year-old self – relax – you cannot figure it all out right now. You have the time to experiment, learn, make mistakes and grow. If you do not get any opportunities, chase them, or create some for yourself. Be a lifelong student, never give up and enjoy the ride. I promise it gets better
Finally, what makes Quiana Gainey a trailblazer in Northern Virginia?
I do consider myself a trailblazer because I believe I have a unique dream, which I have actualized to create a bridge for underrepresented and marginalized communities. With the support of amazing organizations such as the Community Business Partnership, SBDC and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, we were able to grow by 300% in the first year, win awards for our community service efforts and create jobs for underserved populations. One of our main goals in the future is to continue to lead the way in the IT and cybersecurity industry through apprenticeships and training for the next generation.