Panelists discuss path to top IT security job

To become a chief information security officer, learn to speak and write succinctly. That was the advice from a panel of successful CISOs to system and network administrators who aspire to become security executives.

“Think crisply, and write well,” said Jane Scott Norris, the State Department’s CISO. Speaking today at the Computer Security Institute's conference and exhibition in Washington, D.C., Norris said information security executives must be able to present a case for action in one page—no more. To prepare for the executive suite, “get your thinking really succinct,” she said.

Another speaker, Bill Hancock, vice president of global security solutions and chief security officer at Savvis Communications, said writing is a skill he expects his staff members to master. “A security person writes a lot—white papers, PowerPoint slides,” he said.

A CISO needs a balance of technical and management skills, Norris added. “You need to know enough about management so you can fit in and enough about technology so you don’t get snowed.”

No direct path exists from the CISO’s office to the chief executive or senior agency executive’s office, panelists agreed during a discussion of the evolving role of CISOs. The path to the chief executive officer’s office runs through the office of the chief financial officer, said Jennifer Bayuk, CISO and managing director of information security at Bear, Stearns and Co. “Become a CPA and then get promoted to CFO,” she said.

Panelist Terri Curran, director of information security at Bose, said her advice to security administrators in their 20s who want to become CISOs is to be patient. “It takes a long time to become a CISO that your management is going to trust. Patience is key.”


  • 2018 Fed 100

    The 2018 Federal 100

    This year's Fed 100 winners show just how much committed and talented individuals can accomplish in federal IT. Read their profiles to learn more!

  • Census
    How tech can save money for 2020 census

    Trump campaign taps census question as a fund-raising tool

    A fundraising email for the Trump-Pence reelection campaign is trying to get supporters behind a controversial change to the census -- asking respondents whether or not they are U.S. citizens.

  • Cloud
    DOD cloud

    DOD's latest cloud moves leave plenty of questions

    Speculation is still swirling about the implications of the draft solicitation for JEDI -- and about why a separate agreement for cloud-migration services was scaled back so dramatically.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.