Coffee with a Colleague: Chris J. – Veteran, Cyclist and Technology & Innovations Team Member
At Blackstone, we’re proud to have a team with a diversity of backgrounds, interests and career trajectories. Coffee chats offer a quick respite from the day’s tasks and a chance to catch up with one another, both personally and professionally. Join us as we sit down with team members across the firm in our new series, Coffee with a Colleague.
This month, we get to know Chris J., an Associate on the Technology & Innovations Cybersecurity team in Miami, working in security operations.
What did you do before coming to Blackstone?
I came to Blackstone from my previous firm as a security engineer, but my first job in I.T. operations was when I was already 35 years old. Before that, I was in the military and the Maryland National Guard and also had a civilian job dealing with lab work in infectious disease. It was fascinating work, but I decided in my late twenties I was ready for a change.
How has your military background influenced your approach to work and to life?
In the Army, we have a list of core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. These seven values drive my decisions. It’s not just about working hard — it’s about being mission-focused.
The work my team at Blackstone does can have a huge impact on the firm’s reputation, so we rely on each other as teammates to problem-solve – just like in the Army. I love when we figure out how to approach complex challenges or enhance our capabilities.
What’s something you’re proud of building at Blackstone?
I’ve focused on creating opportunities for my team members to grow professionally. We recently put together a live, collaborative training session. Everyone came out of it excited, and we’re now trying to replicate it with other teams. My manager fully supports my vision and empowers me to bring my ideas to life. From a culture perspective, Blackstone is a place where new ideas are celebrated — no matter the source.
I also have an outstanding team member I’ve mentored since before he came to the firm. I worked with him for three years — now he’s here, and he’s been such a huge asset.
How do you spend your free time?
I got into cycling after five months working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. I bought a road bike, and my goal was to ride 100 miles. I didn’t know if it was possible, but in a few months I did my first 100-mile ride. I love cycling culture: the clothes, conversations and traveling.
Here in Florida, I did the whole North Key to Key West route by myself — that’s around 130 miles. It was one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen, but it was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Any advice for your younger self?
Don’t buy that condo in 2006. [Laughs] I’d tell him that the output of anything in life is directly related to the time and effort put in. When I was younger, I showed up and worked hard, but I took the path of least resistance. Now, I’m trying to grow and raise the standard, both for my own sake and for my family.
I don’t know if my 20-year-old self would listen to me. He’d say, “Man, come on, I’m doing alright,” but he could do so much better with just a little more effort.
Finally, we have to ask: what’s your go-to coffee order?
Cuban coffee. It’s like a super shot of espresso — perfect to get re-focused after lunch. It comes in little plastic cups, and you’ll typically hand them out and have a chat. It’s a social thing; it’s Miami culture. Anywhere you go, there’s someone making Cuban coffee behind the counter.