Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Sydney CISO Community

Jihad Zein

Head of IT Governance, Risk and Assurance

Toll Group

Jihad Zein is an information technology and business transformation executive with over 20 years of international credentials in strategy development and execution, program and project management, service management, IT governance, risk and compliance. He joined Toll Group in November 2018 as the Global Head of IT Governance, Risk and Assurance. Prior to that, he spent 19 years working for Diageo where he performed different roles across different geographies based out of Dubai, Stockholm, London, Paris and moved to Sydney in 2011 as the Head of Information Systems for Diageo ANZ. 

Learn more about the Sydney CISO community here.

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

I have always done risk and compliance in each of my different roles, and I quite enjoyed it. 

I am obsessed with keeping things simple, and I believe that effective governance is clarity about decision making, roles and responsibilities. It is not about having 20 people making or approving a decision. Risk is a fascinating area, the constantly evolving technology and threat landscapes keep the job interesting and challenging, as there is always something new to learn and explore.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

Leadership is demonstrating accountability and taking ownership! Integrity is the baseline.

With disruption being a key theme of the past year, where do you see the roles of CISO and Risk Officers going in the next 1-2 years?

In general, with disruption being a key theme in recent years, C-level roles will likely continue to evolve and adapt to keep pace with the changing business landscape. Here are a few potential trends that may impact C-level roles in the next 1-2 years:

  1. Increased focus on digital transformation: As businesses continue to digitize and automate their operations, C-level executives will need to be well-versed in emerging technologies and understand how they can be leveraged to drive innovation and growth.

  2. Greater emphasis on data and analytics: With the explosion of data, there is a growing need for C-level executives to be data-driven decision-makers. This will require a solid understanding of data management and analytics, as well as the ability to interpret data and use insights to drive business outcomes.

  3. More agile and flexible leadership: The pace of change in business is accelerating, and C-level executives will need to be agile and flexible in their approach to leadership. This means being able to pivot quickly in response to changing market conditions and being open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

  4. Increased focus on cybersecurity and risk management: With the growing threat of cyber attacks and other risks, C-level executives will need to be vigilant in managing risks and ensuring the security of their organizations' data and IT systems.

  5. Continued importance of sustainability and social responsibility: As consumers and stakeholders place greater importance on sustainability and social responsibility, C-level executives will need to take a more holistic approach to business and consider the impact of their decisions on the environment and society as a whole.

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

Make a 100 day plan:

  • Listen and learn

  • Build relationships

  • Be adaptable

  • Build a strong team

  • Stay curious and keep learning

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

  1. I am an avid traveller and have visited more than 50 countries. My favourite destination so far has been Italy, where I fell in love with the culture, food and beautiful architecture.
  2. I am also an amateur chef and love experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen (even though my 15 year old boy has beaten me with the food art he has been producing at school).
  3. I am active and going to the gym at least 3 times a week is a must for me. I find training and keeping fit the best medicine to handle work stress.

What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta? 

I always surround myself with people who are smarter than me! The Evanta community is a great opportunity to network and learn from colleagues across different industries.

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.

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