Jim Geary didn’t follow his original plan; even finding his way to Fitchburg State in the first place was happenstance.
As Geary recalled to computer science students during a visit to campus this spring, he can cite the fact that having a car was central to his journey to Fitchburg State. A high school friend wanted to visit his brother and the school, and Geary could give him a lift. He liked what he saw and decided to enroll himself with an eye towards a career as an industrial arts teacher.
“I came to Fitchburg State and soon thereafter figured out that I was an entrepreneur and a technical person at heart,” Geary recalled.
Geary “talked his way” into an internship in computer science while in graduate school, and followed that entrepreneurial spirit into business joining a firm in the then-nascent field of cybersecurity. While it was new as a professional field, he said, working in a start-up allowed him to put into practice many of the strategies and ideas he learned in classes.
“Not all ideas are multi-million, or billion-dollar ideas, but there are a lot of interesting ideas that can be the basis for a thriving company and a great career experience,” Geary said. “Coming through a program like this, if you focus, are willing to do the work and make the sacrifices, you can still make your dreams come true.”
If it wasn’t for Fitchburg State, and professors who cared, I wouldn’t have achieved the success I have, or be where I am now.
That marked the start of a successful and ongoing career in cybersecurity, including roles as president, CEO and chairman of several international companies. In 2023, he joined a new early-stage cybersecurity company as its president and CEO. Nodal Technologies provides cutting edge AI based network and application cybersecurity solutions to government and private sector clients.
Geary returned to campus this spring to meet with undergraduate computer science students. During his visit he discussed the importance of pursuing internships and other opportunities that would let them show prospective employers their skills, work ethic, and ability to work as part of a team.
He said his experience at Fitchburg State was the cornerstone to the success he has enjoyed throughout his career.
“I was a kid that came here with nothing, and was able to find my path to success,” he said. “I didn’t go to MIT or Harvard, but I was still able to rise up and become the CEO of six different technology companies. All of those opportunities are available to you through Fitchburg State, if you want to do the work, and pursue your interest with a passion.
“If it wasn’t for Fitchburg State, and professors who cared, I wouldn’t have achieved the success I have, or be where I am now,” he continued. “The people here really do care, not just about imparting knowledge, but teaching you the skills you need to succeed in life.”