Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Toronto CISO Community

Jeff Stark



Jeff Stark is a trusted leader in the IT community known for his innovative solutions to complex challenges that safeguard the organization while bringing corporate strategic vision to fruition. He has more than 30 years of proven track record in delivering results through building responsive teams to the organization and exploiting technology as a strategic lever in achieving growth.

Responsible for the security of billions of dollars in assets and personal client information, Jeff has accumulated a wide range of experience and networks through his long-term affiliations such as Canadian Financial Institutes Computer Incident Response Team and top global financial organizations. Individual strengths include strong business acumen, setting and achieving strategic goals, and being a motivating leader, mentor and talented keynote speaker. He thrives on change by staying on top of leading-edge technology.

Prior to joining Fasken, Jeff held Vice President, Director and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles with various multinational banks as well as a Crown agency of the Government of Ontario.

Learn more about the Toronto CISO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

My CISO journey began more than 30 years ago when I worked at a small mom-and-pop computer store. I built and configured computers, but I also learned about working with customers and meeting their requirements. 

From there, I engineered my way into a large publishing house as a tech support agent, mainly repairing and upgrading Windows and Mac computers. I was also the lead support analyst for the US Sales Team. As remote control software didn't really exist yet, this role taught me the importance of listening closely to issues over the phone and problem solving, but I think most importantly, how to break down complex technical lexicon into language that non-technical audiences can understand.

From there, I worked at various banks and financial institutions, always learning and striving to embed the best solutions to secure those organizations.

What are your guiding leadership principles?

Admit and celebrate your mistakes. Many leaders are afraid that their team may see them make a mistake, and it can be a challenge to admit when you are wrong, but it’s extremely valuable and important for your teams to see you make mistakes and admit to them. 

This demonstrates that it’s important to own your mistakes, help fix them, learn from them, and move on. This also reduces the fear and anxiety of your team wanting to try new solutions or reimaging an existing one and breeds creativity. 

With disruption being a key theme of the past few years, where do you see your role as a CISO going in the next 1-2 years?

This is actually a more difficult question than it sounds. The reason being is the role of CISO seems to have a different meaning depending on which organization you work for.  But in my cyber utopia, the role of CISO would not exist.

In this world, security would be an inherent component of the design and implementation of solutions and would be seamlessly integrated. Instead of a separate, and sometimes unwelcome team, security would be part of an organizations' DNA and included in everything that organization does. Like Privacy by Design, Security by Design should be second nature to an organization instead of a separate after the fact bolt-on.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CISO?

Understand your business. Meet with other teams and leaders and really get to know how the business functions. The CISO role is one of the few C-level roles that has an impact on all aspects of an organization.  As such, it is vitally important that we are seen as partners to the business. Understand that we are not gate keepers, rather that we are here to enable the business to function with the least amount of risk. This mindset can only be achieved if we know how the business functions.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.

  1. I attended Sheridan College's Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design for draw, paint, design and photography.
  2. I coach minor ice and ball hockey.
  3.  I am the real brains behind Tony Stark's Ironman suits.

What is the value of joining an Evanta community?

The value of joining the Evanta community is building relationships with peers across many different organizations and verticals, sharing best practices and keeping up-to-date with latest security trends and technologies

Evanta Governing Body members share their insights and leadership perspectives to shape the agendas and topics that address the top priorities impacting business leaders today.

by CISOs, for CISOs

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