Podcast - The New CISO Podcast Episode 91: Taking Extreme Ownership: How 3 Common Excuses Hurt Security Leaders with guest Michael Meis - Exabeam

The New CISO Podcast Episode 91: Taking Extreme Ownership: How 3 Common Excuses Hurt Security Leaders with guest Michael Meis

Podcast Transcript | Air Date April 20, 2023

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Listen to Steve and Adam discuss how to navigate bureaucracy and adapt to corporate environments:

Meet Michael

Host Steve Moore introduces our guest today, Michael Meis. Michael has been in IT and security for fifteen years and healthcare for two years. Michael met Steve a year ago during a security conference, leading to their connecting around the industry and their philosophies on leadership.

Michael also reflects on his role in the military, which began with him working with radios and evolved into performing general technology support.

Getting His Start

Michael was always interested in computers but initially never saw it as a career. He decided to join the military instead. However, his military recruiter encouraged him to take a tech-related job, and his security journey began. 

This first army signal corps job was less computer-heavy than expected, but Michael still learned a lot.

Dealing With Corporate Politics

For ten years, Michael worked as a government consultant. This experience taught Michael to navigate complex bureaucratic dynamics to get past red tape.

Michael highlights the importance of having solid relationships in different departments to get things done. You can determine which workplace rules to bend when you understand how things are and how your organization operates. 

Finding a Path

Michael expands on the importance of relationships in a corporate setting. You can leverage those relationships when needed to promote your department’s agendas.

The more you understand your organization’s rules and politics, the less friction you will face, and the more you can build a trusted security culture. 

Government Challenges

Steve presses Michael on his quote, “Governance is important, but alone won’t solve all of your problems.”

Anyone who has worked in government understands that there are always challenges within its IT environments. Since the government has total control over its IT, Michael learned early on that more than governance is needed to perfect these systems. Collaboration is needed between parties.

Excuses, Excuses

Michael shares the security community’s common excuses that tend to irk him. 

Budget professionals can be challenging to work with from a leadership perspective. He also gets frustrated when people use a lack of training as a reason not to try something. Michael values training, but he understands that sometimes you have to take action before that formal training comes.

Behavioral Norms

Michael explores the behavioral norms that came out of his military service.

Learning how to function in a corporate environment is essential for people to know when leaving the military. The benefits of this experience were the rigor and structure, which can provide direction in life. On the flip side, it can be challenging to transition from that structure because you can grow dependent on it.

Helping Others

As a leader, Michael tries to help other service members remove their need for a manual when making corporate transitions. That way, they can learn to embrace their creativity, benefiting their long-term careers.

Ultimately, Michael aims to empower his teams and shift their professional mindsets.

The New CISO

To Michael, being a new CISO means recognizing that they are not just security practitioners but business executives. The more security evolves as an industry, the more CISOs can adapt to these modern changes.

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