Ray Pottebaum ’22
Internship: Core4ce, Reston, Virginia
Hometown: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Preferred Gender Pronouns: he/him/his
Clubs and Affiliations: Business & Politics Club Leader, Veterans Club, admissions ambassador
Favorite SOM Class: Power & Politics
Favorite SOM Professor: Michael Kraus
Favorite New Haven eatery: Pokémoto
Bonus fact: I rescued my best friend, Rosco (a white Korean Jindo), from the Humane Society. I’m half Korean and half White, so it was a match made in heaven and the best impulse decision I ever made. Rosco may have enjoyed his time with Core4ce as much as I did!
When a mentor of mine, Dave Ross, texted me that he was retiring from the Pentagon, I felt a congratulatory text back was insufficient, so I called. Dave told me that he was retiring to become the chief strategy officer for a technology startup called Core4ce in the National Capitol Region (Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland). I surmised that this must be a compelling company to leave a senior government position for, so I “jokingly” planted that I was looking for internship opportunities.
I learned that Core4ce is a company at the cutting edge of merging cybersecurity and data analytics to protect the cyber infrastructure of the United States government. As seen in the news, cyberattacks have become increasingly more commonplace, and the ability for threat actors to gain access to sensitive information is a growing national security threat. Core4ce’s first- and second-tier managers are a conglomeration of serial entrepreneurs, domain experts, solution architects, and former senior government officials who have come together to stay ahead of cyberattacks and counter this growing threat.
Months after my call with Dave, we revisited the opportunity for an internship, and I was thrilled to compete and be selected for a corporate strategy role as an MBA Fellow.
The most advanced cyberattacks are targeted at the U.S. Department of Defense and the intelligence community, but malicious actors are opportunistic and are finding back doors by targeting private businesses that share information with the U.S. government. I was told before I began my fellowship to expect to be challenged since the intent of the Core4ce MBA Fellowship is to expose the fellow to roles and functions at the corporate level.
My major project was to build a business plan to extend Core4ce’s robust cybersecurity offerings from government clients to commercial businesses that support U.S. government operations. I also had the opportunity to form a corporate affinity group, assisted in the documentation of the corporate R&D program (called the Innovation Incubator), and assisted in preparing for and conducting customer and board of advisor engagements. The fellowship also required me to learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity.
I’m a former U.S. Army combat engineer with zero cybersecurity experience, but with required readings and technical mentorship from the company’s cybersecurity experts, I was able to build a comprehensive business plan that was accepted by the corporation’s CEO, Jack Wilmer, who most recently served as the chief information security officer for the Department of Defense. The planning required me to develop business models, conduct market analysis, plan sales strategies, and compute financial projections to prime Core4ce’s market penetration into the private sector to secure the cyber infrastructure of businesses so they can focus on supporting the nation’s missions.
Yale SOM prepared me from a mission-driven and business curriculum standpoint. I chose Yale SOM for its differentiated and preeminent mission to elevate leaders for business and society. In keeping with this mission and the values of Yale SOM, I experienced a great sense of fulfillment in applying my business acumen in being a small part of helping secure critical cyber infrastructure that keeps our nation safe.
The integrated business curriculum at Yale SOM of multiple stakeholder perspectives proved to be invaluable during my summer experience. I often found myself diving back into the material of the business curriculum to help frame and solve real business problems. Developing a business plan for a technology startup allowed me to contextualize and integrate all the perspectives as a capstone—whether it was using concepts from courses like Basics of Accounting and Sourcing and Managing Funds to build financial projections, planning marketing and competitive strategies from lessons learned in Customer and Competitor, brainstorming disruptive innovations through Innovator, or navigating through corporate culture and personalities through the Executive, Workforce, and Power & Politics courses. I didn’t imagine I would be bringing all these concepts together, but I was equipped with the business tools that became the foundation of learning how to run a business.
The benefit of interning for a firm with a small company culture (Core4ce has more than 500 employees) is having more exposure to decision makers. I interacted with managing partners, executive leaders, and senior clients daily. Networking has become a platitude in business, but seeing how a company runs at the corporate level gave me a profound appreciation for how crucial relationship building is for business, both internally and externally. I always heard that one should never mix business with friends, but Core4ce has fostered a relentless drive and motivation to achieve results while working with old friends who worked together more than a decade ago in another successful corporation. Working toward a common goal and vision with people you know, trust, respect, and want to work with fosters the entrepreneurial spirit. Friends understand the business decisions that must be made and work together to turn a vision into a reality.
Core4ce allowed me to integrate the curriculum taught at Yale SOM and apply the lessons to real-world business problems. It became the foundation to learn from the vast expertise at Core4ce and how to navigate the complexities of running a business. It has been an honor to continue defending the nation in this new frontier of information, cyber, and data with an incredible group of people. We live in an unprecedented and exciting time in human history, where we have built a more interdependent, globalized, and interconnected world. Yale SOM has positioned itself to interface with this new world and is profoundly forward thinking in its approach to educating leaders to solve the problems of the future, and the school is preparing students to seize these opportunities.