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CISOs taking a leap of faith

George V. Hulme | May 29, 2014
More CISOs are embracing new career paths within the industry

"I hope to bring my experience as a CISO to the vendor community, and to instill some sense of the difficulties of the CISO's job and how to best help them and what they're trying to do," he says.

"I think the trend is for more of us, when we find something that we really believe in, to use that as an opportunity to go out and talk to our peers and help educate them about why we are so passionate and how it can help them," Moskites says.

However, Cowperthwaite wasn't completely sanguine about making such a big jump. "I did not want to be perceived as selling out. From my perspective, it's genuinely about finding what I think is a very innovative set of intellectual property that can help drive organizations to a more secure place," he says. 

Cowperthwaite was also concerned that he might have trouble getting the ear of the engineering team at Core, which he needs to do to discuss market needs. "Would I actually be able to be a voice of the market into engineering? That's an extremely important thing. Engineering teams are smart as hell, but they rarely, if ever, know what it's like to be a practitioner. I think it's important to rejuvenate vendors with people who know what it's like to be a practitioner," Cowperthwaite says.

None of this surprises Stan Black, CISO at Citrix Systems. Black says that hiring managers' demand for experienced security professionals is quite high. "They're looking for people who have actually made some mistakes and worked in large-scale environments, those that have credibility and can talk about any topic," he says.

And what's in store for those CISOs that decide to move to the vendor side of the industry? Black says their new positions may be quite rewarding, offering many new hats that enterprise CISOs don't not typically get to wear. And he would know: Black has considerable experience working as a CISO at numerous software and security vendors, including EMC, RSA and Nuance, before joining Citrix this fall. 

However, before making his most recent move, Black established a set of criteria for any position he chose. "I knew I didn't want to report to the CIO ever again. And I wanted join a company that possessed four key traits: They had to have integrity, a positive culture, a heritage in technology, and a strong vision. I love working with technology, personally. It's something I really enjoy and has to be a big part of what I do," he says.

In his position at Citrix, Black reports to the COO, who is also the CFO. "I am truly enabled to do my job. And to put my foot down, when it is appropriate, to protect our company and our customers," Black says.


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