As 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):
- An affiliation that that would enable to me to stand out among my peers;
- was internationally recognized;
- would get my boss off my back;
- 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!