Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, San Antonio, Texas
By Jeannette E. Garcia – Reporter, San Antonio Business Journal
San Antonio based CNF Technologies Corp. has formed a new division that will focus on cyber-related research and development, CEO and co-founder Roxanne Ramirez told the Business Journal.
This move comes with the promotion of two internal employees, effective Sept. 1. The company’s former chief technology officer Andy Pilato will now serve as its first chief information officer, and its former director of operations, Aaron Grace, will become chief technology officer.
“I came to CNF in 2008, hit the ground running and have not had time to look back,” Pilato told the Business Journal.
Grace will take responsibility for the new R&D division focusing on data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, industrial control systems and data control systems. Pilato will focus on regulation, security and employee growth.
“We are doing R&D to address emerging threats to help bring them into the hands of the warfighter, however anything that we do, we will also be able to use and test internally,” Grace said.
He was an Air Force veteran that moved to San Antonio in 2005 and helped startup the now 90th Cyberspace Operations Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland.
As reported by the Business Journal earlier this week, CNF was named to the Inc. 5000 list for a second year in a row, raising to No. 806 from No. 3,409 with 589% growth between 2019 and 2020. The company went from having one location to four total — all added within over a year and a half.
While the R&D division itself is new, CNF laid out initial groundwork for this division through a partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio at the university’s National Security Collaboration Center. For the last two years CNF has paid UTSA students to help them work on a research project for the 90th Cyberspace Operations Squadron.
“The partnership is a two-way street, and gives the students a real-world application of what they are learning in the classroom…. it is a symbiotic relationship that we don’t take for granted,” Grace said.
The company has hired students after working with them through the NSCC and has recently started a mentorship program in cybersecurity at Palo Alto College.
“I take pride that CNF, as a small company headquartered in San Antonio, is hiring engineering graduates from UTSA and is pushing to do the same with students from our junior college, Alamo Colleges,” Ramirez said. “This way, CNF is able to grab young people that want to get to work… I want to have a wide variety of talent at different levels to see them grow and develop.”