- Experience. From the technical experience to the hands-on, this is vital for a great CISO. They should be well equipped with the knowledge and understanding of how to use different platforms and how to manage different functions.
- Likeability and Communication. As a CISO, you need to be not just understood and appreciated but liked too. This is how you get buy-in from non-security personnel. Rather than sitting in an ivory tower and speaking a different language, CISOs must be accessible and remove the jargon from every conversation to ensure their demands are understandable to key stakeholders. Over time, their relationship with the board can become more transparent as executives learn to put more trust into the strategies, suggestions and requests made by the CISO in return.
- Starting from scratch. In my experience, a CISO that has built a function from bottom-up is usually a great one. The ability to mature a security function in the public sector for instance, where all stakeholders are risk adverse, bureaucratic and dismissive of security as an integral business principle – that is impressive stuff.
- Getting your hands dirty. Decent CISOs aren’t always derivative from that environment but the same qualities can be recognised in a professional who has been able to open or expand a security function without using a managed service provider for instance. A person who is happy to get their hands dirty and get stuck in with the hands-on technical requirements.
- Ability to Align Security with Business Goals. A great CISO knows they are not there to control the business, but there to enable the business to do what they need to do in the most secure way. Great CISOs align their strategies with their firm’s mission values and understand how to communicate with business leaders in ways that are culturally aware, whilst enabling those leaders to make effective decisions. More importantly, a great CISO will always be playing a balancing act between what is good for security and what is good for the business.
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