Who’d want to be a CISO?

Who’d want to be a CISO?
Published: 8 July 2019

It’s one of the hottest roles around and if your board isn’t taking information & cyber security seriously, arguably you may need a new board! With breaches rightly under public and legislative scrutiny, combined with a relentless tide of cyber threats, Matt Cockbill, Head of Berwick Partners’ IT & Digital Leadership Practice, explains why strong security leadership is a critical component to business success.  

The leadership demands placed upon the CISO role are diverse, challenging and ever evolving. The day to day priorities of security, coupled with the ongoing alignment of strategic objectives across multiple stakeholder audiences, is a tension to be carefully managed

For a role which has its heritage in the IT function, often still reporting to a CIO, can the CISO truly have the leadership reach required for success?  For many, being seated in IT may set a tone; and encourage a tendency to focus upon the adrenaline filled tactical systems responses to threats and crisis. This certainly places them amongst the action and immediately proves their worth. But too close an association with the guts and glory of security incident response, may inhibit security leaders from accessing the dialogues required to shape preventative strategies and systems & process change.

And this is where security leaders must continue to work hardest.  In a market awash with contractors who excel at applying specific domain experience to distinct problems and challenges, there is palpable demand for CISO talent able to lead, not just ‘fix’.  The balance between technical authority and impactful commercial change agent is hard to achieve. Pragmatism, vision and shared commercial ambition for well managed risk and security services is the currency in enabling improved commercial performance. Leaders with the innate curiosity to walk a mile in the shoes of their stakeholders, and take these learnings into meaningful change & transformation, have an abundance of choices ahead!  

Matt Cockbill leads the IT & Digital Leadership Practice for Berwick Partners.

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