Sessions Offer Insight at ASIS International Seminar & Exhibits in Chicago

By ASIS Newspaper Staff

Most importantly, Atlas and Bobkow­ksi suggested schools need to be zealous about updating security policies.

CSOs Share Career Strategies

Continuing his education and reaching out to others to build relationships are just some of the tools that have helped Microsoft CSO Mike Howard and others earn senior industry positions and continue to move up, he said in a standing-room only session on Tuesday morning.

“The journey doesn’t end because I’m still learning,” Howard explained alongside his fellow presenters, Tyson Johnson, CPP, BrightPlanet’s head of business development, and Don Knox, CPP, Caterpillar’s security risk and analysis manager in “Your Path to the Top: CSOs Discuss Career Paths.”

The session was sponsored by the CSO Roundtable and gave attendees a unique chance to hear about how professionals in the security industry made their way up the executive ladder and to learn how they can do the same.

Howard said he “took a big leap” in the early 2000s by moving to Microsoft after 22 years with the CIA and previously serving in law enforcement in Oakland, California. In making the transition from the government to the corporate sector, Howard has embraced learning about aspects outside of security that can help him with his career goals. One of those learning experiences was a short stint in human resources where he learned about building relationships with people and the importance of mentoring, Howard explained.

Some were critical of his decision to put his security career on hold, but Howard said he felt the experience of learning more about human resources has benefitted his work at Microsoft, particularly in learning how human resources works and how to interact with people outside of his own department.

Being able to build connections with others and use those connections for networking is greatly important, especially for young professionals, Howard said, and it is something he continues to do. “I’ve tried to consciously belong to other reach as many folks as I can because I’m trying to learn as much as I can,” he said, explaining that he’s joined organizations, such as ASIS, and made efforts to always be available to those looking for mentors in the security industry.


Johnson echoed Howard’s sentiments, describing a mentor he had who kept him from “drowning” when he first moved into executive management from a subject-matter expert position at TD Bank.

Initially, Johnson said he was taking on too much responsibility and felt like he was sinking because he was having trouble transitioning into the new position. One day, his phone rang and an employee from the senior ranks on the retail side offered to mentor him. They began meeting weekly and worked their way through Managing Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey? by William Oncken, helping Johnson learn to manage his time and the value of prioritization.

In the book, Oncken uses the example of management having a monkey on its back. If the manager takes on too much, or takes responsibility for too many monkeys, he won’t be able to feed them all and will starve himself—meaning his job performance will suffer. Instead, managers need to learn to prioritize their time to accomplish tasks and be successful.
This is especially important for professionals to understand because of the current economic environment, Howard said. “We’re all in this world of reduced resources and time constraints, so prioritization is important,” he explained. “You can’t do more with less, you just have to do the most important things first.”


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