The impact that we have

Last week was an interesting week.  It’s a busy time of year and traditionally fairly hectic as people try to get their projects over the line before Christmas.  So high intensity – but I had two things during the week I was really looking forward to.

The first was a session with Jane Frankland on personal brand.  Jane is a CISO Advisor, Speaker, Author and Champion for Women in Cyber Security – amongst many other things.  She’s also a great person and terribly interesting to listen to.  A few of the CISOs in Melbourne spent a day with her talking about personal brand, with a focus on social media and how to use it effectively.  Jane is passionate about having a view and being a part of the debate and is a highly effective user of social media as a result.

I loved the day – and got a huge amount out of it.  But I still walked out thinking “I get it – but I’m still not convinced I personally have much to add through social media.  Who’d be interested?”.

The second thing I was looking forward to was the last CISOLens session for the year.  For those that don’t know it, CISOLens is a group of CISOs that meet together regularly to talk about issues in the industry, help each other on current problems and generally look for ways to improve security across Australia.  It’s run by James Turner who has done the most amazing job to get the best CISO group together that I’ve seen in my 25 odd years in the industry.  It’s a passion project for James and he’s made a real difference in doing it.  I can point to a couple of very tangible things in cyber in Australia that wouldn’t have happened were it not for this group.

In the last CISOLens meeting of the year, James has created a tradition (in his words “I’ve done it two years running now, so it’s a tradition”) of presenting an award to someone he feels has made a difference in the CISO community.  He presented it to me, which I have to say it was something of a shock to my system.  His reasoning was that back when he was first getting really interested in security and looking at how he could help, I used to spend the odd hour or two on the phone with him as he’d walk me through his thinking on the topic he was researching.  I’d listen and give him my views – helping him look at security from different angles.

I never thought anything of it – it was a fun set of conversations that involved me giving him some different views on security.  I enjoyed them but didn’t think of them as having any wider implication.  I have those conversations with anyone who’ll listen.  Turns out they were more valuable than I realised.

But here’s the thing I realised on the flight back to Melbourne – James has since then had a large impact on cyber security in Australia.  He’s got a real passion for the industry, wants to see the right things done and so has created a group of CISOs that he pulls together regularly who actively work to help each other.  That’s pretty darn cool.  What’s more he’s regularly publishing on the topic and is an influencer of CIOs and CEOs – always pushing on the importance of cyber.

I can’t take any credit for the great work James does – but if I had even the slightest impact on his early thinking and in making that happen – then those conversations were worth their weight in gold.  And that award is something I couldn’t be prouder of.

Which led to my second realisation – I finally got Jane’s point.  Having a view and communicating it is always worthwhile.  We are ambassadors for our industry.  And it’s not an easy industry to work in – the challenges are growing by the day.  So if something we say helps someone in their security journey – that is a wonderful thing.  Putting a view out there that might make people pause and think is valuable in its own right – but helping spark something in someone is… well… “wow”.

So – every time you are out there talking passionately about cyber you are having an impact.  It’s profound and it’s important and it’s helping shape how we solve some pretty big problems.  The smallest conversation can impact a person and help us all along this journey.

Never underestimate the impact that you have!

Thoughts?  Do you agree?  Do you think I’m wrong? Always happy to be debated!


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4 thoughts on “The impact that we have”

  1. Fantastic to read this Berin! I got a great deal out of Jane’s branding workshop. And I do have to commend James on bringing together the CISO communities. Being connected is how we can all get things done better.

  2. Just realized after reading this how much I miss our long talks…Hope life is treating you well!

  3. Congratulations Berin. The award is well deserved and you have had an impact on many info Sec people with your honest and pragmatic approach.