Don Kark is an executive, engineer, and leader with a history of success and innovation, both as a corporate executive and consultant. He loves parachuting into chaotic or complex technical and organizational situations, being able to understand them quickly, and finding a path toward improvement. He is very effective sitting between management teams and technologists, fully understanding both perspectives while facilitating cooperation and success. His career-long interest in cybersecurity started at Purdue where he developed a passion for finding exploits in vulnerable systems.
Don began his career at TRW (now Northrop Grumman) building a supercomputer for text searching. His team developed a system that performed over 100 billion operations per second, a considerable feat back in 1986. He went from hardware designer, to software designer, to chief architect, and then eventually chief engineer of the program in a matter of a few years while earning the 1989 TRW Chairman’s Award for Innovation (a high technical honor). Information Security was fast becoming a critical component of organizational technology, and he was often a beta-tester for vendors concerning secure databases and operating systems.
After TRW, he moved to the other side of systems development at Welkin Associates, where he wrote and reviewed requirements for advanced government systems. At Welkin, he learned that it is not enough to just develop systems, you must also properly specify them to be successful. If data security is not a strategic consideration considered in the requirements and design phases, it is very difficult to properly implement it later.
Don was then recruited to a startup called InfoNow. He took on the role of CTO, overseeing all technical development, product development, and IT operations. From the ground up, he built one of the busiest systems on the internet at the time. From its data centers, InfoNow provided geography-based web applications for companies like Visa, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, HP, Compaq, Intel, and many others. Overseeing organizational cybersecurity, he acquired certifications for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), PCI, and others.
In addition to his work for startups, Don has consulted for large companies like Teleflora, MapQuest, OG&E, and others. He re-engineered land-locked call centers into a worldwide customer service platform, incorporating voice automation with live links into various internal systems while saving millions of dollars for the company. He also led efforts for a client, working with the business, to develop requirements and negotiate contract terms for a complete revamp of an eCommerce system. He tested systems using simulated DDOS attacks, and worked with IT Teams and Vendors to develop their response plan.
Don has been a natural engineer all his life. He has an intuitive sense for how technology works, and he understands the architectural principals that underlie all enterprise systems. He graduated from Purdue with a degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering. As a student at Purdue, he built a computer, as an experiment, that would eventually orbit the earth on the space shuttle. He also served on the board of the university’s largest student organization: the Purdue Grand Prix.
Don makes his home in Colorado. He’s married with three children. He has interests that are wide and varied, from award winning amateur winemaking, to supporting local makerspaces, to electronics, to his greatest passion: fireworks. Don is a licensed pyrotechnician who does shows for local communities. He also makes his own fireworks with a local club, just for fun. He has choreographed pyromusicals for several local, national, and international events. He is a founding partner of SimpliFire LLC, a company that manufactures and sells computerized firing systems to the fireworks industry.