Light & Wonder
Kevin Kealy is currently serving as the head of Information Security at Light & Wonder, where he has been for just over four years. Prior to that, he was the CISO at Ingram Micro, the CIO/CISO at Everi Games, and the CISO at FIS. He joined FIS after a long career with AT&T, in which he held a number of various roles.
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Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.
I stumbled into security somewhat accidentally, during college in the UK. I discovered that I had a talent for mischief, and the head of the Computer Science department offered me an ultimatum: accept a stipend to secure the computers and their network (to keep out people like me) or get expelled. I took the former, and that set me on a path I’m on to this day.
What is one of your guiding leadership principles?
Be a leader I would aspire to follow. It’s as simple as that, really. I’ve learned from both good and bad leaders over the years, and that’s allowed me to really see and resonate with leadership behaviors that I emulate – and avoid.
With disruption being a key theme of recent years, where do you see the CISO role going in the next 1-2 years?
This role will change, that’s clear. The prosecution of the Uber CISO shows that – perhaps – this role is evolving from “C-level with a little ‘c’” to a proper C-level, expected to take a seat at the table with real accountability to go with our real responsibility.
The moves from the SEC to put cybersecurity front and center are also intriguing. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the C-suite embraces the elevation of the CISO. I also see greater convergence between the CIO and CISO roles. I’ve served as a CIO/CISO already, and I see companies taking the opportunity to increase their ‘bang for their buck” by combining the roles and saving a seat at the table.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a CISO?
Listen. Shut your mouth and listen. Everyone has something to offer you, especially for the first three to six months in your role. Join a mentorship organization. Don’t assume you’re the smartest in the room. In fact, I always go into a meeting assuming I’m the dumbest in the room. That way, I’m open to listening to what others have to say, and it often helps me a lot more. Of course, sometimes you find out that you are the smartest in the room; in which case you should change rooms!
Learn to delegate. Accept that your subordinates won’t do things the way you would. You need to embrace that and accept that “different” isn’t necessarily “worse.” Even if it is worse, if it’s good enough, it will do. Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good enough.”
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.
- I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. My family planned to move to the UK, so at night I would listen to the BBC World Service and practice an English accent so I wouldn’t be the kid with the weird accent at school.
- I learned to drive at 12 in the desert of Oman. My dad came home with a battered old Datsun station wagon, showed me how to shift gears and work the clutch, and off I went. The driving age for boys was 12 at that time, and there was no driving test. Objectively, looking back, it was anarchy. But it was fun at the time!
- I hold two patents, both for reducing/preventing Spam over Internet Telephony. You’re welcome!
What is the value of joining an Evanta community?
There are so many benefits. The primary one is that it helps you create a network of peers, mentors and friends. It’s so valuable having such a community around you. Especially if you’re recruiting, if you need to find your next position, if you need advice. All these things are facilitated by joining Evanta.
The other thing that Evanta does for me that I really value is that at least once a year I have to drag myself out of the morass of daily work and life to go and attend a gathering. This is a real benefit and a way to reset. The talks are always of high quality, and it helps to give perspective and perhaps to get others’ suggestions and opinions on your most current dilemma.
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