Editor’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.
“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.”