Chief Information Security Officer
State of Connecticut
What is one of your guiding leadership principles?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. It's important to find the right leadership strategy for your personality and for your team and continuously adjust based on what works for everyone. That said, my general philosophy is to get the right people in place, help set the vision and then get out of the way. I've had some great people work for me over the years and I'd like to think I've helped some good people become great during our time together. A lot of CISOs complain about the talent shortage in the industry without trying to grow the talent they already have. Giving the right training helps create a greater level of engagement and a career path for the right people to thrive.
Learn more about leaders in the New York CISO community here.
What are 2-3 of your main priorities or goals for the year ahead?
We have an ambitious agenda in the State of Connecticut over the next year and beyond. From a business perspective, we are centralizing technology resources from the state agencies, and at the same time, we are expanding the concept of Digital Government, which is something that started under the Obama administration. Digital government asks how we are using technology to make a real difference in people’s lives. It flips the model from the agency view on how to operate to the citizen's view on how they'd best engage with the government at both state and Federal levels. We are making real progress on these efforts. For example, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Connecticut is now processing more transactions online than they are in person. Since January, more than 85,300 online renewals were completed compared to around 60,300 in person. We also launched Business OneStop to make it easier for businesses to operate in the State of Connecticut. Feedback so far has been impressive, but there's a long way to go. Of course, the cybersecurity program helps support these programs and a lot of my time is growing the centralized program and supporting the state agency missions. My current efforts revolve around the state’s overall cybersecurity strategy, third-party risk, vulnerability management and employee training and awareness.
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- My first job was as an intern at Fangoria Magazine in New York City. They're a small publication specializing in the horror movie industry, and it was a dream-job for me at a very young age. I think I was paid like $10 a day, but I loved every minute of it.
- During the pandemic, I wrote a book on cybersecurity communication called the Security Leader's Communication Playbook. I wrote this book to address the communication and soft-skills challenges that can be a struggle for many in our industry. I'm planning a follow-up book on cybersecurity leadership that I hope to complete over the next year.
- I love playing guitar and recently picked up a Line 6 Variax, which is a guitar that can emulate other guitar configurations like a Fender Strat, Les Paul, etc. I don't get as much time to play anymore, but simplifying my guitar tech stack has made it easier to do and removed a lot of friction that keeps me from practicing. We need to remember this for our cyber programs, as well. Too many tools can be counterproductive, but the right tools deployed in the right way can make a real difference. Keep it simple and use what actually works!
What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta?
The CISO community is very supportive of one another. Evanta gives us a reason and forum for us to gather and share best practices. I've made many lasting friendships through this community, and I'm able to keep up with my old friends, as well. Watching the New York CISO community grow over the last ten plus years has been incredible, and I'm honored to be part of this amazing community. I’m looking forward to being back in person, hopefully soon!
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