I’m delighted that Cisco Secure has just confirmed our membership of the Security Advisor Alliance. This will allow us to do great things together, for the benefit of security leaders and also our community, and so I wanted to write this post to talk a little about our joint missions, and how we can help you.

About our CISO Advisor team

I lead Cisco’s global CISO Advisors team, a group of security leaders dedicated to lending our experience to all different kinds of organizations across the world.

We’re all passionate about paying it forward. For us, it’s about supporting other CISOs and security leaders to be the very best version of themselves at their jobs. We also help to nurture and support the next generation of security leaders who are currently rising through the ranks.

The cybersecurity industry’s global skills shortage is among the issues we’re extremely keen to address. We want to help ensure everyone has access to the training, knowledge and resources they need to take on security leadership roles. We see this as part of our shared responsibility within the industry as a whole.

How we can help

We speak the same language of security leaders (the language of risk) and understand all the challenges that a CISO deals with on an everyday basis, because we’ve been there before.

I met a CISO recently who told me that not only are they trying to protect the walls of their organization, they’re also dealing with internal cultures and potentially internal politics. One of the things our team can provide is a shoulder to lean on. I know that feeling all too well, and there are various strategies and tactics I’ve employed in the past that have worked well for me.

We can also share those stories (confidentially, of course) with other CISOs who may be experiencing the same issue. So you can think of us as human networks of stories that you can tap into. In fact, we’ve built a new ‘CISO connections’ website for people to learn more about our community.

For example, I worked with a CISO recently who decided to rebrand “Zero Trust” internally. The reason being that other executives were approaching them and saying, “Your team is saying you don’t trust us, and that’s not the message we want to send.” So this organization decided to rebrand the whole concept and label it “The [company name] Trust Programme”.

For that organization, it was about changing the perception of security with the rest of the business, and that was a tactic that worked really well for them.

About the Security Advisor Alliance

By definition, an “alliance” is a relationship based on an affinity in interests.  In this case, those interests are very focused on addressing the shortage and alignment of skills to meet existing and emerging cybersecurity demands in industry, technology, and government.   The Security Advisor Alliance brings together leading CISO’s and security executives who understand the national security and economic implications of solving this challenging problem.

That means organizations in healthcare, finance, manufacturing, technology, government, education, and of course, Cisco, collaborate through Alliance programs and events to generate excitement in cybersecurity starting as early as Middle School.  The Alliance also engages transitioning adults and mid-career cyber professionals through continuing education and mentorship programs.

The Alliance talks about their work in terms of a “long game”, engaging high school and college students, and a “short game”, mentoring career professionals and supporting career transitions.  They do a great job of leveraging their CISO community and sharing content with the security community and other educators to make sure skills match needs.

The Alliance also provides a great platform for senior professionals, even those from competing companies, to come together to solve this problem that affects all of us.  By doing this, working shoulder to shoulder on a common problem, it creates lasting and meaningful relationships among us as individuals and as representatives of our respective companies.

I couldn’t agree more with this approach.  While there are numerous, necessary programs and businesses that exist to support security certifications and training, we have to do more to generate excitement about this career field and what it entails.  And we have to make sure we stay engaged once we get them hooked, so to speak.  With 3 million jobs unfilled, we can’t just sit back and hope that properly skilled candidates emerge from universities and trade schools.

Here’s what Gary Latham, Executive Director at Security Advisor Alliance, had to say:

Gary Latham
Gary Latham

“Speaking for everyone at the Alliance, we’re really happy to welcome Cisco to our team. The breadth and depth of industry knowledge that Cisco brings to the table gives us incredible reach across the cybersecurity needs of industry and government.

The payoff, of course, will be a skilled workforce along with the meaningful relationships we will build together across the cybersecurity community.”

How we’re working together

One of the reasons I’m so excited about this partnership, aside from the fact that I feel a strong kinship with the Alliance’s mission of altruism and connection, is that it will allow us to take on a really active role with this community. We’ve started strong, with one of our internal experts, Mary Kelley, leading a session all about security awareness training, and we intend to do a lot more.

As well as supporting current CISOs and security executives, the Security Advisor Alliance’s remit extends all the way to the high school level. It’s all about encouraging security as a potential career, and supporting anyone who may be interested. As CISO Advisors we’re really excited to get involved with this type of training, and help to show students a path into the industry.

When I was in high school, I had no idea about what I wanted to do, and I couldn’t connect the dots between what I was studying and how I could translate it into an actual career. I’ve always envied people who’ve always known what they wanted to do.

I was one of the lost souls, and I would have loved to have been able to sit down with someone who could show me the path out of the wilderness. This is something that we can do in conjunction with the Security Advisor Alliance. I’m very passionate about getting started, and helping people from all walks of life.

I wanted to end this article by including a quote from a member of the Security Advisor Alliance, Dustin Willcox, Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Anthem, Inc:

Dustin Wilcox
Dustin Wilcox

“Cisco’s participation in the Security Advisor Alliance has important benefits to both organizations.  Having Cisco participate in the Alliance’s workforce development initiatives sends a strong signal that this is a problem and an opportunity that they take seriously.

As a cybersecurity thought leader, Cisco’s immersion in the Alliance’s CISO population will create opportunities for engaging and insightful dialogue between the company and the organizations that consume Cisco technology and services.  This is an across the board win.”   

Find out more about Cisco’s CISO connections community

Find out more about the Security Advisor Alliance


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Daniel DeSantis

Director, CISO Advisory, Americas