Each summer, over 700 professional bankers, financial regulators, financial services consultants and attorneys, pack their bags and move into dormitories—yes, DORMITORIES— at the University of Washington, where they spend the next two weeks  immersed in intensive training on topics ranging from credit risk to cybersecurity. This is the Pacific Coast Banking School (PCBS), which has been a venerable institution since 1938, and where I have the privilege of teaching a 5-day class called “Cybersecurity Challenge.”

Stepping into the Foster School of Business on the first day each year is like seeing an old friend. The walls and floor of the building are covered with quotes from entrepreneurs: “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity. – Steve Jobs.”  The floor of the elevator says “CHANGE” and loose change—coins—from different cultures are embedded in it (very cute).

The floor of the elevator at PCBS (University of Washington Paccar Hall)

I am always surprised and impressed by the students, who are accomplished professionals and come from many different backgrounds. There are folks from huge, international banks, tiny community banks, and everything in-between. Examiners from the Federal Reserve, FDIC, CFPB, OCC and more, attend PCBS along with risk officers, lenders, IT professionals, HR staff, bank presidents—you name it. Everyone has a different perspective which leads to some very rich discussions.  This year, I had about 90 students in the Cybersecurity Challenge class. During the tabletop exercise (which was about ransomware), one student crafted an on-the-fly customer statement that was better than any real one I’ve seen. Turned out she was a customer service manager for a major bank. :)

Each morning, I biked to the university along the Burke Gilman trail. Here you can see the free city bikes that dot the landscape. As a security professional, I am amazed that you can just leave bikes laying around everywhere! It was a good reminder each morning that trust makes our whole system work better.

On the last day, social media master Eric Cook and I did a class swap. We were fortunate enough to be classroom neighbors, so Friday morning we surprised the students and switched classes at the beginning of the day. My students got a 5-minute brain dump on social media, and his got a taste of cybersecurity. Here we are right after Eric ran in and stole his classroom back. :)

Bonus: while in Seattle, I got to catch up with my good buddy, physical security expert Deviant Ollam, and his talented wife Tarah Wheeler.

We went to the aquarium! The octopus was my favorite part. Octopi are the physical security experts of the sea—they can squeeze their whole bodies through tiny nooks because they have no bones. Very sneaky.

It was so rewarding to spend a week with the PCBS community, living and working in Seattle. Many thanks to the PCBS crew for another great year!