ISE® Success Stories

Laura Whitt-Winyard
ISE® North America Project: Commercial Award Finalist 2014
ISE® Northeast Project Award Finalist 2016
ISE® North America Project: Financial Award Nominee 2016

My first experience with the ISE® Awards occurred in my previous position a few years ago. They already had a positive history of participating in the ISE® Awards, and when I joined their team, I was able to experience the ISE® Programs myself for the first time. Now that I am with a different organization, I have continued the ISE® Awards experience with my current team. Each time I was part of the ISE® Awards, my team was nominated by vendors who have worked with the organizations I was a part of, which was a very exciting and uplifting experience. Security can feel like a thankless job sometimes, because we are only called upon when things go wrong—so to be recognized by the solutions providers we work with as a team who has succeeded in our efforts and hard work was very rewarding.

The ISE® Awards Gala is a very exhilarating experience. It’s engaging to be in a room full of other successful leaders and teams, sitting beside them as fellows and leaders and wondering who out of these amazing nominees will come out on top. But whether we win or not, seeing everyone recognized and celebrated for their hard work leaves a positive impact on everyone involved. Furthermore, after taking part in the awards, our leadership—not even within security, but higher up in the company—recognizes those achievements and shares it with others in our organization and industry, and that really shows others how valuable our team is. Back in the day, leadership would view security as a necessity and a roadblock; but now, thanks to the ISE® Programs, we can open new lines of communication across the company, and we appear more like enablers and problem solvers that they can approach for guidance and assistance.

The networking at ISE® Programs is absolutely phenomenal. I really enjoy each experience that provided dialogue and discussion regarding all manner of topics in security. It’s interesting and highly beneficial to learn how security leaders from a wide variety of different industries are tackling similar issues, and we can always take some of that knowledge home to adapt and apply to our own strategies. Furthermore, whether it’s the Executive Forum or the Awards Gala, I could connect with dozens of executives like me and establish new relationships—and those relationships carry on past the programs. For example, perhaps you experience an issue that you heard a fellow attendee mention at the last ISE® Program. Since you connected with them at the event, you can reach out to them as a resource of experience and advice to help resolve the situation much faster than your team ever would have on your own. We keep in touch and are able to continue that dialogue and collaboration past the event to help one another in our ventures.

Beyond just connecting with fellow executives, I find the interaction with vendors to be a unique experience as well. At ISE® Programs, the solutions providers feel more comfortable and at ease when speaking with the guests. When you attend one of the other really big security conferences, the show floor is packed full of vendors and hundreds of guests; so each vendor has to push and shove to be heard. But at an ISE® Event, the crowd is a smaller but more concentrated group of high-level security professionals, and as such they can relax and take their time with each guest. As a security professional, I really find that beneficial, because we can take the time to really learn more about what they have to offer and how it can be uniquely applied to our individual security needs.

The T.E.N. team truly shows that they recognize security teams as the unsung heroes in the defense of modern organizations. They organize the ISE® Programs and Awards Galas to show that the executives and teams in security are valuable and worth celebrating for their hard work and their dedication to the information and cyber security industries. What we do in security is complex, and trying to explain it to those not involved with it can become confused and avoid the subject. It’s a welcome change of pace to take part in a program that is created exclusively to talk about what we do and allow us to have the conversations we wouldn’t normally get anywhere else.

I truly believe that any security leader or team who believe their work in the industry has been successful should nominate themselves for an ISE® Award—or that you should nominate someone like that in your network! It’s hard to find recognition and validation for your work in security because we are so deeply embedded within an organization’s core network that we aren’t always seen. But that work still deserves recognition and celebration—and by taking part in the ISE® Awards experience, you will experience heightened visibility and renew your confidence in your team’s work. It is a worthwhile venture and I encourage you to give it a try.