ISE® Success Stories

David Rooker
ISE® Southeast Executive Award Finalist 2016
ISE® Southeast Project Award Nominee 2016

I first learned about the ISE® Awards through peers who had won the awards in past years, or participated in the programs in various roles. Kevin McKenzie, former CISO of Clemson University—now CISO of Dollar Tree Corporation—was one of them. In the past we had looked at other security awards programs, but they all seemed too similar and blended together. Once we looked at T.E.N.’s ISE® programs, we found the best and most unique opportunity. It felt like most other programs were simply trying to live up to T.E.N.’s programs and inevitably falling short.

After learning about what the ISE® Awards stood for, I decided to nominate myself for the Executive Award process and nominate my team for the Project Award, in order to promote visibility and my team to benefit from its recognition for their hard work. It’s one thing to simply be paid for doing your job, but it’s something quite different to be publicly recognized for your efforts and creative uses of technology. It encourages you, and improves your sense of morale. T.E.N.’s ISE® Programs provided us with that opportunity. Although we did not win in either category, we lost to very worthy contenders, and I believe that has given us the drive to improve ourselves and find out what we can do to raise ourselves to the level of those who triumphed by becoming stronger competitors—and we believe we will win next time!

There are a lot of incredibly innovative and bright people in this industry, who I respect and learn from. To be acknowledged as one of these individuals is a true blessing and privilege. Participating in the truly inspiring ISE® programs the T.E.N. team produces—which are vital to our teams and the industry—and participating with other professionals shows our network that we have experience in Information Security—they understand that we are very well-versed in our work. Many of the clients Actian Corporation connects with are far too accustomed to companies that don’t fully understand their needs or are not able to grasp InfoSec concepts. But when they meet us—thanks to the knowledge we have taken away from the ISE® Programs and incorporated into our business—they discover that we know exactly what we’re talking about and that we can meet or surpass their needs and requirements.

In attending T.E.N.’s programs we were also looking to interact with others in the industry and learn about what they were doing to improve their InfoSec strategies. The value of being able to connect with your fellow CISOs and security teams at a private, professional event is indescribable. T.E.N. provides us all with the ability to comfortably exchange information and help one another, because we trust those in attendance and are in a secure event environment. Those relationships we build at ISE® Programs are strong, and help us really learn the best way to support and strengthen our business and products.

Each and every member of the T.E.N. team is a pleasure to work with, and I make them a priority rather than an option whenever they ask me to participate or speak at an event. The ISE® Programs are well-recognized, high quality, and very professional. When you participate, you as a CISO or as a team feel significant for contributing. Their events create a culture that InfoSec teams want to be a part of in order to connect and collaborate on propelling the industry toward success. I value the ability to pick up the phone and call the T.E.N. team whenever I have a question and always find an answer. Even if they can’t provide one themselves, they can connect us to someone in their network who will, and that is incredibly significant for a growing organization.

Should you nominate yourself or your team for an ISE® Award? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It is your best opportunity to conduct a genuine assessment of your own projects, see where your team succeeded, and discover where you can improve. We all want our hard work to be recognized. We want our teams to know that their diligence is appreciated; and some of us would like to be personally recognized for our success. But most importantly, when you are an ISE® Nominee, it makes us visible to our peers and establishes solid, lasting connections. That is extremely important within such a fast-paced industry. I knew one security professional who has been with a company for a very long time, but never participated in events as helpful as the ISE® Programs. He had done great work in his career, but he’s now struggling to find new organizations to plug his skills into because he never took the opportunity to network at events like the ISE® Programs or ISE® Private Dinners. The networking opportunities gained from participating in T.E.N.’s programs as a nominee and guest are wonderful for visibility and the “Atta boys,” but it also really helps us CISOs establish beneficial, lasting relationships.

T.E.N. has established a unique Information Security culture that not only allows us to breed success in companies that we work so passionately for, but it also provides us, personally, with the tools and knowledge that we need as the next generation of CISOs. The CISO career is volatile and constantly changing, but the knowledge we gain from attending T.E.N.’s incredible events can be carried with us wherever we go.