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Happy ISACA Volunteer Appreciation Week!

Melissa SwartzHappy ISACA Volunteer Appreciation Week! While my colleagues and I agree that we should celebrate our volunteer partners at the chapter and international levels every day, we are thrilled to participate in a week of highlighting some of the ways volunteer support is essential. After all, ISACA exists to support our members in the IT audit, risk, governance, assurance and security industries, and our local and international volunteers are the ones fulfilling our purpose and promise, and exemplifying our values.

Where would we be without the passionate, dedicated and innovative experts advancing ISACA’s great work? For one, we would miss out on the camaraderie in networking and bonding over accomplishing sometimes-challenging objectives to advance our work. We love working with people like Jack Freund, CRISC Certification Working Group member and 2018 ISACA John W. Lainhart IV Common Body of Knowledge Award recipient, who is a huge proponent of giving back. “You should volunteer and get involved with ISACA because it is important, hard work,” he said. “It’s work that will put you in touch with the best in your industry at the local and international level, and working with the best makes you better as well.”

What makes our volunteers the best? It’s their interest and expertise that makes it possible to accomplish impactful initiatives. Check out these highlights from the first quarter of 2018.

  • The ISACA Foundation Working Group is establishing a mission and purpose for a philanthropic strategy at ISACA with the intent to better serve underrepresented segments of our community.
  • Through local and international events, research initiatives and creating a network of champions, the Women’s Leadership Council and SheLeadsTech Working Groups are advocating to empower female leaders in the tech industry.
  • As part of the new Accredited Training Program, the Chapter Accreditation Assessors are ensuring that certification training offered through our chapters represents ISACA’s highest standards of quality in content and presentation techniques, better preparing future exam-takers to successfully earn their CISA, CISM, CGEIT and/or CRISC designations.
  • Multiple working groups in the Advocacy and Public Affairs space are ensuring that ISACA’s voice is heard in legislative efforts through consultation responses and building relationships with government entities. They are also ensuring our membership has the tools and knowledge to successfully and smoothly ensure GDPR compliance.
  • The ISACA Awards Working Group and reviewers expanded the scope of our peer-recognition program, giving you an opportunity to nominate outstanding professional colleagues, thought leaders and volunteers for the accolades they deserve and to inspire future leaders in our industry.
  • Already this year, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) have supported more than 10 new research initiatives. SMEs ensure all content issued by ISACA is accurate, timely and relevant in assisting our members with fulfilling their professional roles.

Just think of what we can accomplish for the rest of the year! Why should you join the more than 4,200 people spending their valuable free time giving back each year? Not only are they meeting new people, expanding their professional network, gaining new experiences to advance in their careers, ensuring the security of the future of their profession, and earning CPE hours, but they’re also gaining personal satisfaction by mentoring, teaching, learning leadership skills and much more.

As ISACA Belgium Chapter President and past ISACA board director Marc Vael says, “In return for the time you invest as a volunteer, you meet so many people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and knowledge in an international context. Basically, you get so much more back for the rest of your career. And that is priceless.”

Our volunteers are priceless, and there is no doubt that every day should be ISACA Volunteer Appreciation Day! Without you, our organization would not have existed for nearly 50 years, much less be looking to grow in the next 50. You are the reason ISACA exists and continues to provide valuable resources to our global professional community. Thank you!

Editor’s note: Learn more about volunteering and apply for an open opportunity at www.isaca.org/volunteer.

Learn how to recognize outstanding international and chapter volunteer service with an ISACA Award at www.isaca.org/awards.

A Conversation with Mike Walsh: Big Data and Beyond

Mike WalshEditor’s Note: Mike Walsh, CEO of Tomorrow and futurist, innovation and technology speaker and authority on emerging markets and IoT, will bring his experience and perspective on Big Data to his closing keynote for ISACA’s 2018 EuroCACS Conference. The event will gather information systems audit, assurance, control, governance and security professionals, from 28-30 May 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

What are some of the most promising applications of big data that you have observed in recent years?
Lately, the most interesting thing about data is not so much what we have been doing with it, but rather how our thinking about the strategic importance of data has changed. Instead of hiring an army of data scientists and building a monolithic bureaucracy to collect and analyze their data, the new focus of companies is on how to become AI-first. In other words, how do you leverage machine learning and algorithms in combination with data, to reimagine how you engage your customers and the way you do business? 

What are some common missteps enterprises should seek to avoid when it comes to leveraging big data?
One of the missed opportunities for enterprises when it comes to data is allowing each operating unit to make its own disparate, non-aligned decisions with data and platforms, as opposed to supporting a company-wide vision to aggregate, process and analyze data into a single data lake. This is not merely a cost issue. With the rise of machine learning, gaining scope and scale in data, has become more important than ever.

How can business technology professionals – such as those that will be in attendance at EuroCACS – help their executive teams put data to good use?
The most important discussion that business technology professionals need to have with the other leaders in their organization is on how real-time data and algorithms should impact their approach to solving problems and making decisions. You can change your enterprise technology stack, but unless you also challenge the culture of leadership and decision making, then nothing really changes at all.

What are some emerging technologies that you anticipate will be most disruptive in 2018 and beyond?
Quantum computing is starting to look less like science fiction and more like a breakthrough technology with real -world applications. I recently spent some time in Tokyo, where transportation companies are already working on designing algorithms that leverage quantum platforms to solve the kind of tricky optimization problems that tomorrow’s traffic control and congestion systems will need to handle at scale.

What type of feedback have you received from readers of The Dictionary of Dangerous Ideas? What have been some of the major takeaways?
Readers of The Dictionary of Dangerous Ideas tell me that they love how the book helps them start interesting conversations and debates with their colleagues and clients. It is easy to see change in the world as merely the function of inevitable technology advancement, whereas in fact, many of the ideas and innovations— whether it be AI, automation or other algorithmic platforms —are really things that we should be debating and discussing in greater detail. The future may be now, but it is still for us to decide.

A Platinum Hit: My ISACA Membership

R.V. RaghuAs January 2018 rolled around, I went platinum. No, this had nothing to do with a New Year’s resolution, nor did I become a platinum blond, though that does bring up some interesting and hilarious possibilities (I can imagine the double-takes every time I would enter an airport or some other location requiring a photo ID). I did not become a platinum album-selling artist (though this would have trimmed one item off my to-do list!). Instead, January 2018 meant that I had entered my 15th year of ISACA membership!

Whew! What a memorable journey it has been.

I still remember entering a room on a leafy road in Bangalore in late 2002. The venue belonged to the University of Agricultural Sciences, yet we were going to discuss IT audit! The memory is still fresh. The room was abuzz with energy, and there must have been at least 100 people present. There were a bunch of important-looking people at the front of the room and a whole bunch of people from different age groups milling about in the back.

The session came to order quickly and we discussed this organization called Information Systems Audit and Control Association – ISACA for short. I recall going to that session, which the ISACA Bangalore Chapter called an “introductory seminar,” because, at that point in my career, I needed (not necessarily in the order below):

  1. An affiliation that that would enable to me to stand out among my peers;
  2. was internationally recognized;
  3. would get my boss off my back;
  4. and add value to my CV.

In the session, I heard about certifications offered by ISACA, primarily Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and of course, the crown jewel, Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT), uttered with great reverence and respect. I have always loved good acronyms, and this was heaven – a great acronym always sticks in your mind, makes you look intelligent when you use it in public and, of course, is a great addition to your name! Exactly one year after attending the session, I attempted the CISA exam in December 2003. By then, I was member for almost a year. I took the exam in December, as it was offered only twice a year then, and my work commitments meant that December was the best time to take the exam.

The rest, as they say, is history, water under the bridge or whatever cliché catches your fancy. I won’t shy away from saying that attending that session was probably one of the best decisions I have made, and there has been no looking back. In hindsight, I realize that one thing that was not communicated at that introductory seminar, but which was and is crucial, was the volunteer ethic on which ISACA was built and which is one of the reasons ISACA is so successful.

Over the years, my relationship with ISACA via the Bangalore Chapter went from one level to the next as that volunteer ethic slowly rose to the fore. I was asked to be part of the local chapter board, and to cut a long story short, I went from member to president of the chapter in less than a decade’s time. I also was fortunate be invited to be part of the ISACA board of directors, which was such an honor that, even as I write this, I feel warm and elated. My relationship with ISACA has been rewarding in so many ways, including the opportunity to work with some great ISACA staff and volunteers, some of whom have become dear friends. I am thankful to many who have been with me on this journey.

It has been wonderful to see the whole organization steadily evolve. ISACA definitely has come a long way. We have more chapters now than in 2002 (up to 217), and our professional community has grown to more than 135,000 members and around 450,000 engaged professionals. The CRISC certification was introduced in 2010. This was a credential I pursued to test my exam-taking chops, and I have been CRISC-certified for a few years now. Of course there is a sea change in certification exams today; they are offered through computer-based testing and can be taken more or less at any time in the year – no need to wait for June or December to roll around.

Membership benefits are awesome to say the least. Members have access to a host of leading-edge research outputs, not only from ISACA, but also from organizations such as MIT, apart from a host of other benefits. How can I miss the fact that CMMI Institute (another organization I have always held in awe for coming up with great frameworks) is now part of the ISACA family, and I was fortunate enough to be part of history being made?

But enough of the past and the present – what should interest all of us, and what I am definitely looking forward to most, is what the future will hold. I am looking forward to the next 15 years and beyond, and wonder what that will look like. What would a young person at the cusp of beginning his or her professional life think of ISACA? I am sure ISACA – nearing its 50th year – will continue to be the go-to source for knowledge in its chosen areas of audit, risk, governance, information security, and whatever else we expand to encompass.

Whatever it is, I am sure ISACA will continue to live up to it is purpose, Help you realize the positive potential of technology, and its promise, Inspire confidence that enables innovation through technology. This will need to stand the test of time – the test of a tomorrow that is unknown and of the risks and threats that will continue to emerge. It is imperative that we pause now and then, stand at arm’s length, and take a deep look at what we are doing, where we are headed and what an organization like ISACA means in the grand scheme of things.

It is my personal conviction that the ISACA of tomorrow will be more than a purveyor of knowledge or expertise or certifications, and play a bigger role in providing the necessary scaffolding for the safe use of technology while also being true to its founding tenets, with expanded interpretations to suit the evolving challenges of our professional community. The ball already is rolling in this direction via the SheLeadsTech initiative, which means that ISACA also becomes synonymous with “opportunity” across the globe. This segues into the ISACA Foundation, which (in my mind) will have the task of expanding ISACA’s reach and impact in communities around the world.

I am looking forward to that tomorrow – a tomorrow in which ISACA continues to shine!

Final Gavel at UN Yields Roadmap Forward and Feeling of Fulfillment

Jo Stewart-RattrayEditor’s note: ISACA board director Jo Stewart-Rattray has provided updates from her participation in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which took place from 12-23 March at UN headquarters in New York.

The final week of the session brought a lot of hard work; there were times when I thought we were going backwards and other times when there appeared to be no agreement, and that consensus was a long way off.

With a looming deadline, we negotiated through the night on Thursday. Those members of the Delegation on “night shift” walked out of UN headquarters at 5:45 a.m. on Friday in the pre-dawn light with a lot of hard negotiation and high-level diplomacy still on the horizon to get all 193 member-states on the same page in relation to what the roadmap for the empowerment of rural women and girls through the use of technology would look like.

Even those of us who had pulled the night shift were back at the UN at noon on Friday. There were small group discussions and bilateral work taking place to complete the tasks at hand. Paragraph by paragraph fell under the gavel after being agreed upon, and each agreement was met by a round of applause. Then, at 3:50 p.m., the gavel fell on the final paragraph, and the conference room erupted in applause, sighs of relief, and we were on our feet hugging members of our own delegations and, in some cases, other delegations. We had made it! We had a set of agreed upon conclusions!

I felt a lump rise in my throat knowing that not only had the dreams of a 7-year-old kid from the Australian bush come true, but that kid, as an adult, had worked to make a difference for rural women and girls across the world. This has been particularly moving for me when I realized that the last time this session theme was attempted in 2012, the member-states of the United Nations were anything but united and could not agree on many of the thorny issues. There was no final roadmap as a result.

I will head home with a sense of achievement like I have never had before. I know that ISACA and the SheLeadsTech program have a place in the world at the highest level, and I will continue to strive to make a difference with our advocacy efforts. Thank you ISACA for playing such a significant role in making a dream of a lifetime come true!

Dialogue Gaining Steam at UN Session on Empowering Rural Women and Girls Through Technology

Jo Stewart-RattrayEditor’s note: ISACA board director Jo Stewart-Rattray is providing onsite updates from her participation in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is taking place from 12-23 March at UN headquarters in New York.

Negotiations on the second reading of the roadmap document ran long into the night late last week. In fact, I didn't get back to my hotel, which is a five-minute walk from the UN, until 2 a.m. Saturday. The second version was completed with additions and deletions marked, as the facilitator of the sessions has to take all views and offerings into consideration in the most neutral way possible.

The most interesting part of this is to witness the country alliances that form (sometimes highly unlikely pairings), and the issues that are most hotly debated (sometimes also very surprising). Defining commonly used terms to ensure that there is a common understanding across the 193 member-states is also an amazing and absolutely necessary part of the process. 

Boring? No, not at all. Actually, it is fascinating to watch the country negotiators at work, most of whom are diplomats, and a few of whom are lawyers.

My role is to provide input into the negotiations by gathering relevant input from the civil society organization representatives who are not allowed into the negotiation rooms, but who stay close at hand in the hallways. These women have an extraordinary wealth of expert knowledge and range in age and background. I am indebted to those who remained in the hallways until after 1 a.m. Saturday just in case we needed their input. What support and dedication!

Discussions on the third and final reading of the document will commence on Tuesday morning when, I understand, the negotiations notch up somewhat.

UN Member-States Focused on Empowering Rural Women and Girls

Jo Stewart-RattrayEditor’s note: ISACA board director Jo Stewart-Rattray is providing onsite updates from her participation in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is taking place from 12-23 March at UN headquarters in New York.

The last couple of days at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) have been spectacular. There have been ministerial roundtables, the delivery of member-state statements and a range of wonderful side events.

The statements provide the opportunity for member-states to present their position on the 62nd Session theme, which is the empowerment of rural women and girls through the use of technology.

Usually the delegation’s head, ambassadors and commissioners would be at the country’s desk in the General Assembly to deliver this statement. I was unbelievably honored and humbled when Minister O’Dwyer, our Head of Delegation, asked me to join this esteemed group at the Australia desk!

Today, we commence negotiating all of the 193 member-states’ positions into a set of agreed-upon conclusions for the roadmap of how the world will move forward to ensure the empowerment of rural women and girls. Members of our delegation, including me, will work with our chief negotiator to make sure that Australia’s position is written into that final roadmap document.

Jo at the UN

I spent the morning at the Australian Mission to the UN for briefings regarding the negotiations and the plays required around them ... absolutely fascinating.

Probably, from an ISACA perspective, the most exciting thing that has happened occurred at a reception last night. A woman approached me and asked me how she could find about this SheLeadsTech program that she’d heard about! Seems my unabashed promotion of our program is working.

An Empowering Start at the UN

Jo Stewart-RattrayEditor’s note: ISACA board director Jo Stewart-Rattray is providing onsite updates from her participation in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is taking place from 12-23 March at UN headquarters in New York.

On Day 1 of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), as I took my place on the floor of the UN General Assembly, the dream of a 7-year-old kid from the Australian bush was realized. So humbling, so exciting, so empowering.

Hearing the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, telling us about his strong beliefs in gender equity and calling himself out as a proud feminist was incredibly powerful.

He also went on to say that “we need to take power, otherwise we will be living in a male-dominated world.” This, as you can imagine, received a huge round of applause.

During the day, I had the opportunity to socialize our SheLeadsTech program and to raise awareness of ISACA more generally with women from a number of countries. These conversations were enthusiastically received, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue.

ISACA board director Jo Stewart-Rattray (left) with the head of the Australia Delegation, Kelly O’Dwyer, Australia’s Minister for Women
ISACA board director Jo Stewart-Rattray (left) with the head of the Australia Delegation, Kelly O’Dwyer, Australia’s Minister for Women.

Day 2 has dawned. I threw back my curtains and was delighted to see it was snowing ... which for an Aussie in New York is a wonderous sight!

Ready for another extraordinary day!

Live from New York: Ready to Make Progress with UN Delegation

Jo Stewart-RattrayWhen I left Adelaide on QF 738 with a lump in my throat, knowing how significant this journey is in my life, I was blown away to observe that there was an all-female tech crew on the flight deck. What an auspicious start!

Last month, I wrote about the incredible opportunity to be part of the official Australian government delegation to the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). The session begins this week and will extend through 23 March at UN headquarters in New York.

My trip is off to a great start: I had afternoon tea on Sunday with Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, Ambassadors Gillian Bird and Sharman Stone, Commissioners June Oscar and Kate Jenkins, and the rest of the Australian Delegation at Ambassador Bird’s residence. I was asked to speak about my journey to the Delegation and my roles with SheLeadsTech and ISACA more broadly.

Jo at UN

An official reception was held to introduce the Delegation to civil society organizations present in New York, giving me another chance to socialize SheLeadsTech. The reception took place at the Australian Consulate General.

Jo in New York

Already, this has been a memorable experience, and it is so exciting that CSW62 is about to formally begin! I’m looking forward to keeping the ISACA global community updated about the important work ahead.

Faces of ISACA: Bhavani Suresh, CISA, CISM, CGEIT

Bhavani SureshEditor’s note: This week, ISACA Now’s “Faces of ISACA” series is highlighting female members who have made outstanding contributions to the technology workforce leading up to International Women’s Day on 8 March. Today, we highlight Bhavani Suresh, CEO of Nbiz Infosol (UAE).

Join @isacanews, @justinembone @observacious & @shyama_rose for an International Women’s Day Twitter Chat on 8 March, 1-2 PM EST. Have your questions and comments ready. Use #ISACAChat and #IWD2018 to be a part of the live conversation.

Bhavani Suresh rattles off a list of her goals as if she has nothing but free time at her disposal.

She wants to establish new schools, a home for destitute widows, author a book and escalate her already considerable volunteer workload – all this on top of growing her company, Nbiz Infosol, of which she is CEO.

“Such are my ambitions,” Suresh said. “I am very positive I will achieve them soon.”

Based on Suresh’s track record, why set limits to what she can accomplish? In addition to her entrepreneurial success, Suresh was voted the first female president of ISACA’s UAE Chapter, a milestone that she considers to be “really a remarkable achievement.”

“In a male-dominated society, and in the field of information systems wherein very few females exist, it is quite challenging to rise up against all odds and become the president,” Suresh said.

Suresh grew up in India and entered the booming IT field there, capitalizing on a scholarship program to learn about the information systems field. She eventually earned an MBA from the Manchester Business School, and her thirst for knowledge continued by pursuing an array of professional credentials, including ISACA’s CISA, CISM and CGEIT certifications.

“If you say that you belong to the ISACA community, the industry adds a weightage score to your credibility, trustworthiness and your level of dedication,” Suresh said. “ISACA really means a lot to me.  When I gained my certifications, I really stood apart, as many men did not have such qualifications. It gave my career a great boost, and now in my own organization, it gives me additional strength as well.  ISACA has been close to my heart throughout.”

In search of expanded career opportunities, Suresh relocated from India to UAE in 1995. After some time working in the public sector, Suresh sought to develop her entrepreneurial skills, and she formed Nbiz Infosol about 10 years ago. Nbiz Infosol is an information solutions provider focusing on information security, governance, audit, assurance and training for enterprises in the Middle East. She is proud of many of the organization’s achievements, including gaining accreditation with multiple international bodies and winning a 2012 BIZZ award in the SME category.

The road to success has not always been smooth. Suresh has observed many challenges for women in the technology workforce – ranging from a lack of respect from men to a shortage of training and mentorship opportunities for women – and said, “it is quite challenging to overcome all of these and still stand upright.” Suresh, though, has prevailed and become a powerful success story in her region, and generally has come to appreciate life in the UAE.

“Everything from A-Z is available in a few steps, and you really create a comfort zone living in the UAE,” Suresh said. “The leaders are so thought-provoking, and there is a world of opportunities here. Also, the multitude of culture, language and religions really is an amazing achievement and experience by itself because I don’t think you will have such a variety elsewhere in a smaller region.”

Just as diverse is the set of goals Suresh has for the future, with an emphasis on uplifting those in need of education and housing. Suresh said, “energy is abundant with me,” and so are her ambitions.

“Time is always a precious thing these days, so I’m trying to juggle many goals,” Suresh said. “However, I am prioritizing and trying to achieve each one by one.”

Faces of ISACA: Karen Frank, CISM, CPP

Karen FrankEditor’s note: This week, ISACA Now’s “Faces of ISACA” series is highlighting female members who have made outstanding contributions to the technology workforce leading up to International Women’s Day on 8 March. Today, we highlight Karen Frank, leader of enterprise IT services delivery for Caterpillar, Inc. (USA), and a former law enforcement professional.

Join @isacanews, @justinembone @observacious & @shyama_rose for an International Women’s Day Twitter Chat on 8 March, 1-2 PM EST. Have your questions and comments ready. Use #ISACAChat and #IWD2018 to be a part of the live conversation.

Pursuing a career in technology never was a specific aim for Karen Frank, but rather what she characterizes as “table stakes” for working in computer forensics during her years as a law enforcement professional.

A shift to the private sector ensured that technology would be at the forefront of Frank’s work for the foreseeable future.

Frank, an ISACA member from Peoria, Illinois, USA, has worked in a variety of roles for Caterpillar, Inc. since 2006, including stints as global security program and consulting director, and her current role in enterprise IT services delivery. The transition allowed her to build upon her investigative background with an even sharper focus on technology and security.

“Making a mid-career shift from law enforcement to a Fortune 100 company allowed me to lead investigations, threat and vulnerability assessments, physical security and asset protection, trade secret and IP protection, and both security and traditional IT operations on a global scale,” Frank said. “I take pride that in each of those teams I managed, I strived to make lasting process improvements for the benefit of my successors.”

In leading enterprise IT service delivery, Frank’s recent focus has been on areas such as optimizing asset management and governing IT service management programming.

“But the greatest satisfaction has been finding ways to leverage my security perspective and make foundational connections to a strong overall security program while maximizing IT value,” Frank said. “It is also an inevitable challenge to get out in front of the issues and opportunities at a global company in upgrading and replacing aging processes and practices with secure, industry-leading processes.”

While the career change has proven gratifying, Frank was not eager to leave law enforcement, where she was heavily involved in physical and sexual abuse investigations. When a local law enforcement official she respected approached her about the opportunity with Caterpillar, she was receptive, though her years in law enforcement have made an enduring impression.

“I was not aware of the breadth of corporate security until that conversation,” Frank said. “I do not regret the change in path, but I do try to find ways to stay involved in advocacy after seeing first-hand the needs that are out in the community.”

Frank’s dedication to her community has manifested itself in some creative ways. She and her husband, Christopher, own and operate “The Buhlune,” a large, colorful hot air balloon they make available in the Peoria area for not-for-profit fundraisers. Frank said her husband comes from a line of aviation enthusiasts.

The Buhlune

“I did not acquire his passion for piloting the balloon but rather enjoy coordinating the ground crew,” she said. “This involves explaining the physics of flight with observers of all ages and meeting landowners generous enough to share takeoff and landing spaces.”

Frank also contributes to Peoria’s Mayoral Advisory Committee on Police & Community Relations and supports music and the arts through service on the board of directors for the Peoria Area Civic Chorale.

Frank and her husband have three children ages 6 and younger. When it comes to her own family and others, she intends to be a proud advocate for advancing women in the technology workforce.

“We should start earlier,” Frank said. “My daughter is only 3 years old, and we encourage her to be equally as savvy and inquisitive about technology as her brothers. Mentoring throughout the career cycle also has been critical for me. The leaps in my career and exposure to varying aspects of technology were all inspired by strong mentors and advocates. As leaders, pay it forward and help others in their journey.”

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