ISE® Success Stories

Ajit Gaddam
ISE® West Executive of the Year Award Winner 2017

I was previously familiar with T.E.N. and the ISE® Programs where some of my career mentors, for example, had been finalists or winners of the prestigious ISE® Awards. I was also exposed to T.E.N. at various networking events and cybersecurity conferences like RSA® as well. However, my first official introduction to the ISE® Programs was a conversation with Marci McCarthy, the CEO and President of T.E.N about an upcoming ISE® event; what they really are about; learning how they benefit security executives like myself with new information while providing opportunities to connect and collaborate with peers; and last, recognizing and celebrating accomplishments.

Just being nominated for the ISE® West Executive of the Year award truly felt like an honor, because it felt as if I’d been welcomed into a special group of leaders and winners in the industry. When my name was announced as the winner of the ISE® West Executive of the Year for 2017, someone from my table at the awards gala had to nudge me to get up! It came as a complete surprise and was a true honor to win and to be recognized. Many industry awards exist through other organizations, but with T.E.N., their ISE® Awards are peer-driven, and as such, as a nominee, finalist, or winner, you know you’ve been evaluated and commended for your efforts by your fellow executives and industry professionals. That, I think, puts the ISE® Awards a cut above the rest.

During the Executive Forum, I really enjoyed the Roundtable Discussions. The best part of those, I think, are the moderators for each table—they are all leaders in their organizations’ security teams. Hearing about the challenges, strategies, and ideas directly from the leaders who respond to them on a daily basis is very important from a learning and career-growing standpoint. Furthermore, at some industry events, executives and security professionals come together and only talk about the problems they face—but at the ISE® Programs, discussions are structured around finding solutions to those problems. Providing a problem-solving aspect to those roundtables truly makes them significant and helpful for all of us as we progress toward a better, more secure industry.

After winning the ISE® West Awards Gala, T.E.N. boosted the success and accolades of everyone involved not only at the event itself, but also through their social media channels where they congratulated us for our efforts. That social recognition provided a lot of industry visibility outside of the event itself. Overall, the experience put a very positive light on my team, and we feel strengthened and encouraged by the success.

The networking opportunities with my peers in the industry that every portion of the ISE® Program—from the Executive Forum, to the ISE® VIP Reception and Sponsor Pavilion, to the ISE® Awards Gala—were very beneficial in strengthening connections and establishing new relationships to broaden my industry network. I consider that the best aspect of the event overall. Because T.E.N.’s ISE® Community consists of top-notch, high-level executives, we can feel comfortable having conversations about our strategies and challenges on the same level of understanding, which opens us all up to having very productive conversations.

The vendor interactions at the ISE® Programs are truly unique, because the sponsors who attend the program don’t spend their time trying to sell to you—they try to network with you. Often at programs, security executives have to put “blinders” on to try and focus our attention on the conference at hand rather than encountering many solutions providers trying to sell us on their product. At the ISE® Programs, however, it’s a much more comfortable and interesting setting because we can connect in a low-stress environment and discuss what their company can provide without feeling pressured into a sales discussion. That is a very refreshing change of pace that I think executives prefer in getting to know vendors.

It is important for those in this industry to receive due recognition for all their efforts and hard work throughout their career, and the ISE® Programs provide a space where you are rewarded for that success. I encourage anyone who has accomplished much in their information security careers to nominate themselves, or their team, or even a colleague who stands out in your network who deserves the applause. Getting involved in the ISE® Programs provides a lasting positive impact on yourself and your team. Whether you win or not, just participating in the programs and the ISE® Awards, learning and evolving amongst your peers, is an experience that is second to none.