The words of the elders do not lock all the doors. They leave the right door open. That must have been the wisdom behind Lawrence’s father, who constantly told his scion, “You need to use your privilege responsibly.”
Lawrence is, of course, the co-founder of CTFRoom, a cybersecurity learning and training platform, as well as Capture The Flag (CTF) competitions. ‘Capture The Flag‘ is a cybersecurity game meant to help professionals quickly learn and improve their practical capabilities in information security.
“My work stands out because the CTF room is made of an army of volunteers. We are the only cyber range platform in Africa used to run a CTF room at DevCon (a premium conference dedicated to IT professionals and tech enthusiasts).” In other words, he says, it’s like the Jumia of Africa.
He uses cybersecurity to pay forward and hold the elevator door open for others. “I consider myself privileged because I can call and talk to a few people and have them rally behind a cause. It has helped me figure out problems in my community and rally resources.”
"I consider myself privileged because I can call and talk to a few people and have them rally behind a cause. "
For all his outlier qualities, Lawrence also embodies the zeitgeist of this liminal age. He is an avatar of infinite possibility—he holds the position of Head of Information Security at Silensec; he is the Founder and host of Truepositives, a podcast on technology. Lawrence also co-founded BSides Nairobi, a not-for-profit, community-driven event built for and by members of the information security community, and served as a mentor at adplist.org, providing mentorship sessions to cybersecurity professionals.
He recently got nominated as a council member of the Open University of Kenya. But perhaps the hat he loves wearing most is his recent status as a new father of twins, which you can tell by the barely subtle smile he flashes when he talks about them.
“Leadership is something that comes easy to me,” he says. “I was probably born with it, and I have had mentors to fast-track my journey.”
He credits the Bible and identifies David, the man after God’s heart, with whom he most resonates. Like David, Lawrence, too, has his own Goliath. “CTFRoom has never been about the money. You spend a lot of your money to fund its activities, and as a family person, there is always that line that can be blurred, spending family money to fund said activities.”
A tour de force of the IT world, despite his baby-faced assassin prima facie, he knows that one is only ever a couple of poor codes away from losing credibility. The software that runs his internal operations thus reminds him: “Continue dreaming but keep putting in the effort.”
He knows when to fan the flame and when to enjoy the heat. But more importantly, when to light the cybersecurity candle for others, something his father would no doubt grin at. And just like that, it feels like the younger Muchilwa has gone overnight from prospect to elder statesman.