September 8, 2021

What Comes After the CISO Role? w/ Helen Patton

by Cyber Ranch

Show Notes

Host Allan Alford interviews his friend Helen Patton, advisory CISO at Cisco, and former CISO at Ohio State University. Helen and Allan discuss the career path of the CISO – specifically what comes after the CISO role has been fulfilled - and how there is not a clear path defined for the post-CISO career. Allan and Helen discuss several models for post-CISO life that they themselves have explored, and that other CISO friends have as well, such as: shifting back and forth from CISO to vendor, shifting back and forth between CISO and advisory CISO roles at VC’s and other entities, becoming CIOs or CTOs, etc. Helen explains how there is no clearly defined path for a post-CISO life, how no mentors are available to aid with that transition, but also how CISOs can decide to simply change their roles as a CISO. She explains a little bit more about her advisory CISO life and the internal and emotional differences between it and a conventional practitioner CISO role. Key Takeaways: 0:26 – Intro 1:12 – Helen briefly explains about her background in cyber and about her day job. 2:55 – Helen explains what is the post-CISO life? 5:54 – What are Helen’s thoughts on the different roles of CISOS? 9:21 – How many people are changing from CISO to a consultancy role? 11:04 – Has Helen seen anyone making such transitions and being successful over time? 12:48 – Hypothetically what would happen if there was a major technology shift, but a CISO wasn’t there to supervise it due to being in a non-practitioner role at the time. Would she be missing out on it on critical CISO skills? 15:12 – Helen explains a little bit more about her advisory CISO life. 18:07 – What happens when Helen gets approached by startups who want feedback? Does she see them as competition? Are they up for having conversations with her? 20:47 – Can a CISO become a CEO? 22:37 – Who should the CISO be reporting to and why? 25:34 – What other post-CISO activities are there for CISOS that may not be a fulltime role, such as boards, teaching, writing, speaking? 28:32 – What surprises Helen the most in cyber security? Links: Learn more about Helen on LinkedIn and Twitter Follow Allan Alford on LinkedIn and Twitter Learn more about Hacker Valley Studio and The Cyber Ranch Podcast Sponsored by our good friends at Uptycs