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Why you need a security buddy (and how to find one)

Michael Santarcangelo | May 23, 2013
By pairing a security professional with a non-security person, the two professionals can learn how to do their jobs better.

At a school event, I noticed my son sitting and talking with a younger boy. When I asked who he was, my son explained, "he's my kinder buddy!"

A few more questions revealed that the school has a program that purposefully mixes older students with younger students to improve reading. The pair work together to select a topic of mutual interest, pick out a book, read together, and then have time to "work" and play together.

The teachers rave about the program. The older students take the program seriously. They get excited to guide another student to pick out and read books. They don't even realize their reading skills improve in the process. The younger students are thrilled to have someone "just like them" to work with. Both benefit while having fun.

In my view, this program does more, too:

Older children are exposed to the process of teaching younger children; as a result, the older children come away with new insights... and more questions

Younger children learn differently from children a few years older (peers) than they do from teachers (authority); this blend allows the children to work in a shared context and experience that increases relevance for both

As I witnessed, they form friendships and are able to "network" through the school; admittedly, they don't see it as networking in the business sense, but it ultimately builds a stronger school of personal relationships

The same approach applied to the business world, with some slight changes, brings similar benefits.

Who is your security buddy?
The school program pairs older students gaining confidence in reading with younger students learning to read. When applied to security, the focus shifts from age to experience. Not more or less, but "different" experience.

It means security professionals pair up with a non-security person—a professional in some other aspect of the business. Two professionals working together allows each to learn about the other. Security shares. Security learns. As a result, each learns how to do their jobs better.

This forces security professionals to explain what they do in a way that makes sense to others. In the process, they establish personal, professional relationships and friendships across the organization. Real connections with real people that work to improve communication and reduce risk across the enterprise.

How to find a buddy? The shadow knows....
One of the easiest ways to find a security buddy and build a successful relationship is to start with "shadowing."

Consider one of the following approaches and pick someone:

  • With a role in a complimentary business function (willing to participate and share); marketing, sales, or other business function of potential direct benefit
  • Who works in an area you don't currently understand, but want to; maybe it's a real challenge—with the real benefit of not understanding and experiencing some confusion at the words and concepts used.
  • From a group or department that appears to resist security; learning about their experience and operations, first hand, creates the ability to build bridges and offer the right security solutions.


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