Alumni Profile: Drew Hughes

M.S. ’13
Current Position
Chief Information Security Officer, URBN
Alumni Profile: Drew Hughes

Cyber Defender

As a child, Drew Hughes (M.S. ’13) wanted to be a detective. And in a sense, that’s exactly what he has become—a “cyber defender,” as he calls himself. He’s the chief information security officer at URBN, which includes brands such as Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and others. He also served 13 years in the Army National Guard, starting during his days at New York Institute of Technology.

Learn how earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity at New York Tech helped propel him to where he is today.

Tell us about your job.
I oversee URBN’s cybersecurity practice. I’m responsible for defending the business, safeguarding customers, and protecting the brand. Guarding an organization with cyber resources across the globe is always filled with excitement and challenges.

How did you get interested in cybersecurity?
I always knew I wanted to do investigations, even as a kid. As an adult and seeing where technology was going, I could use my inquisitive nature in the field of cybersecurity to hunt down hackers.

How did New York Tech help put you on your career path?
My first internship was with Power Management Concepts under New York Tech alum Peter Curtis (B.T. ’83, M.S. ’95). I found the posting through the job portal available to all New York Tech students and alumni. That led to an internship with Major League Baseball—when I was just a grad student. Then I applied for a role at the Barclays Center supporting systems and networks. New York Tech gave me the opportunity to formally train through these internships, which bolstered my résumé.

Describe your most exciting exposure to cybersecurity while you were a student.
It’s very sensitive in nature, so I can’t disclose all the details, but I saw a security problem in the real world, so I created a project out of it for New York Tech. I had to create my own lab at home and execute the project. Then I took the exact same script and implemented it in the real world and solved the problem. It was that experience when I got the itch to defend networks. I knew I was going to do this for the rest of my life.

You now mentor New York Tech students. Why did you want to do that?
Mentorship has always been important to me. I worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters for seven years, and every year I participate in URBN’s internship program to expose the interns to real-world scenarios. At New York Tech, the mentorship helps prepare the mentee for life after college—writing résumés, networking, tips on interviewing, things like that. It puts the next generation in a better place.

What’s one of your fondest memories of New York Tech?
There was a scrappiness to the students at New York Tech. We worked hard, and everyone in my study circle worked 40 hours a week while doing things to enrich themselves in the workforce. That’s scrappy.