ISE® Success Stories

Koveh Tavakkol
ISE® West Project Award Winner 2019

I first heard about T.E.N. and the ISE® Programs from my leadership team. Dwaine Omyer, the Vice President of Digital Security Organization for T-Mobile, submitted a couple of our initiatives for the ISE® West Awards and the ISE® North America Awards in 2018. Since my team had a history with experiencing T.E.N.’s great programs, we knew it was worthwhile to submit new nominations for 2019. As a department, we looked at some of our initiatives, and leadership members picked the top ones to submit as nominations for the ISE® West Awards.

It was exciting to be a nominee for the ISE® West Project of the Year Award, and the win was fantastic! I was shocked and energized at the same time because I went into it not knowing what to expect from our competition. After the ISE® Awards Gala was over, my team and I decided to go out and celebrate, and we are currently scheduling a follow-up celebration at an offsite with our team members that helped us with this success. At the time, I remember most looking forward to bringing back the award to the rest of the team and our technology partners in Washington, so they could share in the celebration.

The ISE® Awards Program was an opportunity for all of us to step out from our day-to-day and showcase the work that we are doing to a broader audience outside of T-Mobile and across industries. We see clearly what we have accomplished. The awards themselves are high-quality pieces you can hold in your hands and are proof of what our team has achieved. We can showcase them at our desks, office space or award case, so everyone can take pride and inspiration from them as we progress toward future projects and initiatives. Being recognized like this has been wonderful for boosting morale and for the team in general. We are not being shy about the win and are taking the time to pat ourselves on the back for our efforts. All too often, we get so focused on the next boulder we must climb that it is nice to stop once in a while and look out at the view from the top.

Winning the Project of the Year Award and attending ISE® West has also given me valuable networking opportunities. I made a lot of connections and contacts with people in the industry, and many companies are reaching out and continuing the conversations we started at ISE® West. I have quickly come to value these networking events that T.E.N. and its team provides. My fellow InfoSec peers tend to be more open with sharing information than those outside the industry, and T.E.N. brings us together so we can do so. Not only can we share ideas about what has made us successful, but also we can learn from others about how we can further grow and expand our programs. As a result, I look forward to attending both ISE® North America this year and any other events T.E.N. hosts.

In that same vein, the part of the ISE® Executive Forum I enjoyed the most and found illuminating was the CISO Deep Dive panel. Hearing directly from different CISOs about their perspectives, their challenges and their solutions while having a Q&A with them was a great experience for me. There are many kinds of panels out there, but most of them are focused on a specific topic or technology. It was advantageous to attend a panel for those of us who are on the CISO track where we could hear from current CISOs about what is important and what we should be focusing on as an organization.

From a program and networking perspective, the benefits of engaging with the nomination process are huge, so you should definitely take part. We are already talking about what projects we are going to submit next year. In terms of nomination advice, be sure to highlight the value, achievements and accomplishments you have experienced, and bring a larger organizational understanding to it. For example, our program focused on identity, but I detailed many lessons learned to those who may be driving a similar-sized program that might not necessarily be about identity. I wanted them to still walk away with recommendations and an understanding about how to gain traction with their own program outside of ours.