ISE® Success Stories

Mark Leary
ISE® Southeast Executive Award Winner 2010

I was introduced to the ISE® Award Program by ISE® Alumnus Tim McKnight. I had worked for him for about two years when he came to me and said it was time for our work to be recognized and that ISE® was the perfect forum to do it. We had developed an innovative solution that was addressing advanced persistent threats at a time when this practice was still fairly unknown. We recognized that we were doing something very special, so we decided to submit a nomination. Tim had spoken to the benefits and value of taking part in the ISE® Award Program but until I experienced it myself, I really had no idea what a game changer it would be.

There is no one best part of the T.E.N. and ISE® experience. You go from good to better to best as the day goes on. From the beginning to the end there are valuable takeaways. When you arrive, you are greeted with professionalism and the execution of the events is second to none. The ISE® Awards attract the top information security executives. I have never gone to an event that hosts quite the caliber of individuals that T.E.N. does. The Executive Forum provides and educational type setting which allows us the ability to talk about business problems and discuss different ideas and solutions. We are all generally dealing with the same types of pressures. The information we share is really invaluable, both from a learning perspective and a benchmarking opportunity.

When I heard my name called it was absolutely gratifying. The fact that I was being recognized by my peers for this award made it all the more meaningful. It wasn’t just a group of random individuals that looked at my achievement; it was my peer group confirming that what I was doing was on the right track and the quality of the results was deserving of the awards. It was awesome to get that level of respect from my peers. When we won the ISE® Project of the Year Award, it validated that the team had done something meaningful and special. It validated that we were on the right track with the senior and C-Suite executives within our company. Most of the time upper level management just assume that we are dealing with problems in a coherent manner, so winning the ISE® Award really showed them that we were considered best in class by people in the same industry. On a personal level, winning the ISE® Southeast Award was like stepping through a door for me. It increased my exposure and interaction with our board at a level of respect that I had never experienced. It also initiated a new level of credibility and leadership within the ISE® community. The additional industry exposure put me into a small pool with high demand for talent, ultimately giving me the opportunity to expand my career.

One of the biggest aspects that I value about the ISE® Award Program is being able to give back and judge the competition. I feel that the judges are among the industry’s most elite. They ensure the quality and rigor of the process is upheld to the highest standards. In the small group of judges, you really articulate what you expect and through the evaluation process you grow as an individual. We all bring different experiences to the table. The give and take is very rich.

Submitting a nomination provides true validation and it is extremely rewarding to see what you and your team are accomplishing in black and white. As you write the nomination take a look at how you can quantify your results. You can use a lot of words to describe excellence, but it’s truly the results like profitability, cost avoidance and adding to the top or bottom line that bolster a nomination. I highly recommend submitting a nomination for either the executive or project categories. You will become part of a valuable community – winning an award is just a bonus.