Like son, like father: How this security engineer recruited his dad to Mastercard

January 31, 2023 | By Dianna Delling

Growing up in Indianapolis, Ulises Galeano Jr. built his first computer when he was just 10 years old. He’d started the project with his father, Ulises Galeano Sr., an electrical engineer who was then working in sales. But very quickly, his dad recalls, “you could tell he was getting better than me. He had that curiosity.” 

For the next few years, when young Ulises wasn’t in school, he was in his bedroom, teaching himself to code. “I would tell him, 'Go out and play, and stop wasting your time!'” Galeano Sr. says.

Twenty-three years later, he's glad his son never listened to him. In 2021, Galeano Jr., who is a director of information security engineering and part of the Corporate Security team based in the St. Louis Tech Hub, shared a job opening with his father. Now Galeano Sr. works as a senior software engineer in the same office, just a few floors above his son.

In fact, he works for the very team his son originally came to Mastercard to work for in 2018. “He’ll ask me, ‘Hey, how did you do this?’,” the younger Galeano  says, laughing. “You don’t see that a lot. Usually the son asks the father, but it’s the other way around for us.”

Galeano Jr., now 33, launched his IT career during high school, working at a small shop building and repairing computers. He was interested in programming but also ethical hacking — the practice of using hacking skills to help companies find vulnerabilities in their security systems. That naturally led him to network security work at places like the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy. 

“My son was always there to push me and give me confidence that I could do it."
Ulises Galeano Sr.

Galeano Sr., meanwhile, moved from electrical engineering to sales, where he worked for nearly two decades before deciding to again try something new in his mid-40s. In 2017, with encouragement from his son, he brushed up on his computer skills and landed a position as a Linux system administrator at Adidas in Indianapolis. On nights and weekends, he completed technical coursework to earn a Red Hat certificate in systems administration, a respected IT credential he knew would provide him with more career options. 

“My son was always there to push me and give me confidence that I could do it,” he says.

Father and son had never thought about working together. But in 2021, a colleague told Galeano Jr. about an opening on Mastercard’s software development team and asked if he knew any good candidates. He did. Within three months, Galeano Sr. and his wife, Betzabel, pulled up stakes in Indianapolis and moved to St. Louis. 

Having your dad at work comes with advantages beyond the occasional carpool and lunch companion — Galeano Jr. turns to his dad for advice on building and managing teams. But there are confusing moments too, especially because father and son share the same name.

“I get emails that are meant for him, and he gets some that are supposed to be for me,” says Galeano Sr.

“His department is still using some of the documentation I wrote several years ago,” says Galeano Jr. “So people will ping my dad and say, ‘Hey, did you write this?’ He’ll say, 'No, that was the other Ulises.'”

As far as a third Galeano following in the family footsteps someday, who knows? Galeano Jr.’s children are 18 and 11.

“It’s too early to tell if they’re interested in computers,” says Galeano Jr. But if Ulises Galeano III does apply for an IT position at Mastercard someday, his prospective teammates can rest easy: He goes by his middle name, Alexander.

Banner photo: Mira Belgrave/Mastercard

Dianna Delling, Contributor