E24 - Johnny Xmas at GRIMM

Oliver Linsley
Johnny Xmas

By Oliver Linsley & Johnny Xmas

On today’s episode of the Security Vendor spin-off series, we’re joined by Ollie Linsley and Johnny Xmas, Technical Director at GRIMM. During this episode, Johnny shares his journey of how he got into his role as a Technical Director and some of the trials and tribulations he faced during that period. Johnny also talks about his biggest accomplishment to date during his career.

Johnny experienced such a turning point when he found himself at a crossroads in his career. After working for an Australian firm that was relocating its HQ from Chicago to New York, he faced a difficult decision. Rather than uprooting his life and moving, he made the bold choice to take a layoff. This marked the beginning of a much-needed hiatus and a chance for Johnny to take a step back and re-evaluate his path.

Johnny realised that he had been pushing himself too hard, experiencing burnout from years of relentless dedication. Uncertain about his next move, he made a conscious decision to take a break and invest time in self-reflection. This period allowed him to identify the factors that would truly bring him happiness and fulfilment in his professional life.

During this time, he received an unexpected lifeline from a friend working at GRIMM, who informed him about an opening to assist with their training practice. Initially considering it as a temporary stop-gap measure, he decided to give it a try. Little did he know that this position would turn out to be a transformative experience.


What started as a modest gathering driven by word-of-mouth has blossomed under Johnny’s guidance. Recognising the need for a platform where like-minded individuals could come together; Johnny took on the challenge of growing the information security meetup network in Chicago. Through his passion, dedication, and commitment, he successfully elevated the network’s status, attracting hundreds of members from diverse backgrounds within and beyond the industry.

The Government…

Governments play a crucial role in setting regulations and standards to ensure secure operations. However, the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity also involves private companies that seek to maximise their profits. He shares his perspective on the balance between government regulations and private interests. He acknowledges the importance of government regulations in cybersecurity. These regulations provide organisations with a framework to follow, outlining the necessary measures to protect their systems.


Job offers in cybersecurity will not come knocking on your door while comfortably sitting on a sofa in the basement. Instead, he encourages you to proactively seek out opportunities and actively engage with the security community. He advises aspiring professionals to step outside their comfort zones and venture into a world where like-minded individuals are.

To kickstart a career in security, he advises individuals to identify the communities where security professionals are. Whether it be local meetups, industry conferences, or online forums, these communities offer invaluable opportunities for learning, networking, and staying abreast of industry trends.

Tune in on the 27/06/2023 to hear the full episode!