Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Toronto CISO Community

Umar Hossain

Global Leader, IT Infrastructure & Operations


Umar Hossain is a resilient, people-focused leader driving business value through innovative solutions. He leads a team of IT operations and security professionals with a strategic focus on information protection, governance, risk and compliance and business continuity.

Learn more about the Toronto CISO community here.

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

My IT career began by working for Harley-Davidson Canada. After five years, I left Harley and started working for a service provider designing and building network infrastructure. After six years, I left service provider operations and went to retail. Why Retail? Retail is constantly evolving, and so much is happening in the retail landscape. 

I joined Holt Renfrew in 2015, and my focus shifted toward security. As security and privacy raised their presence in every board room, I needed to ensure I had the right strategy and plan to lead the security and IT operations. I designed and implemented retail IT Infrastructure for a 250,000-square-foot store at one of the largest, multi-brand luxury stores in North America. I defined and implemented the enterprise-wide cybersecurity strategies and roadmap, led information security initiatives, promoted zero-trust security model and strong Identity and Access Management, and advanced cybersecurity maturity and cyber resiliency.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

Be honest and respectful in all your interactions.

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?

We need to treat disruption like opportunity. You need to have a goal in your career. Along with your goal, you must have a plan and work towards your plan to achieve your goal. My role will continue to focus on cybersecurity, threat detection and incident handling in the next few years.

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

Be humble. Keep people Inspired. Never stop learning.

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

I enjoy eating out and trying new places. I enjoy the company of family and friends.

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