Hiring the Next Fractional CISO with Michael Piacente

November 11, 2022 Hacker Valley Studio


Show Notes

Michael Piacente, Managing Partner & Cofounder at Hitch Partners, answers the essential question on many cybersecurity professionals’ minds: Where do CISOs find CISO jobs? As it turns out, Michael helps many cybersecurity teams find their perfect CISO match with the assistance of his own team at Hitch Partners. In this episode, Michael clarifies what the role of a CISO really is, explains the compensation and benefits, and reveals the many responsibilities a CISO may take on during their team in the role.


Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Defining the role of CISO & finding the right homes for each CISO

[05:21] VCISO & fractional CISO as an alternative to a full-time CISO

[11:49] CISO annual income, benefits, & non-monetary incentives

[16:37] Explaining additional responsibilities & tasks taken on by the CISO

[25:11] Giving advice to future CISOs looking for the next cyber executive opportunity


Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsor Axonius and NetSPIfor bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley

For more than 2 decades, NetSPI has helped companies discover and remediate critical security issues through its platform-driven, human delivered security test. NetSPI is much more than a pentesting company, bringing you the most comprehensive suite of offensive security solutions. Visit netspi.com/HVM to learn more.


In your own definition and experience, what is a CISO?

Although there’s many definitions of the role, Michael clarifies that defining CISO should always include being an executive. To have a CISO who makes a positive impact and fulfills an organization’s needs, that CISO has to be properly placed, properly sponsored, and be in an environment where they have the proper reporting processes. Michael also believes the CISO should always be looking over their shoulder to be diligent of the next threat.

“In my version of it, a CISO is the executive— and that's the key term here— that has been properly placed, properly sponsored to handle all of the business information and data risk policy execution and operations in the company.”


What is the difference between a fractional CISO and a VCISO?

In Michael’s opinion, a VCISO (virtual CISO) and fractional CISO can be used interchangeably in a situation where a company does not need a full-time CISO executive. Unless they’re looking to support a strong security program, Michael understands that many companies don’t need a full-time CISO in order to be successful. A VCISO makes an impact on an organization’s security without being an overwhelming role in a smaller organization.

“Bringing in your starter package to implement the baseline or foundational building blocks of what will become a security program, in the form of a consultant or consulting firm, is often a wiser choice than going in building a security program around a full-time CISO role.”


Are there different types of CISOs, and have those types changed over time?

Previously, Michael defined 3 different types of CISOs in his search for CISOs with Hitch Partners. However, a fourth type has emerged in recent years: the BISO, or Field CISO. This fourth type joins the ranks alongside other impactful CISO types, including the client (or governance) facing CISO, highly technical CISO, the IT-focused CISO, and now, our fourth type, the BISO, who focuses on the business side of the risk.

“It's amazing that all of our CISO searches contain all these different types of CISOs. The fun part of that we get to figure out is: What's the priority [for the role]? What's the order? What does everyone in the organization think the priority should be?” 


How would you direct someone to take that first step after realizing they want to be a CISO?

Discovering the CISO role exists and being the right person for the role is an important distinction, and Michael encourages potential CISOs to take some time to research the job before getting involved in a job search. However, once someone knows they want to be a CISO, Michael advises finding a CISO mentor and diving into a passion. Each type of CISO needs an expertise and passion to propel them into the superpower status needed to be a CISO. 

“I think it’s about finding a passion. I'm a big believer that you just have to know where your superpower is, or what your superpower wants to be. In other words, that thing that's passionate to you, that you probably know better than 99% of the population out there.”



Keep up with our guest Michael Piacente on LinkedIn

Learn more about Hitch Partners on their website

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