The Virtual CISO with Brandy Harris

Professional Certifications & Continuous Training , Training & Security Leadership

Making the Move From Tech Expert to Cybersecurity Leader

10 Practical Steps to Make Yourself Stand Out as 'Leadership Material'
Making the Move From Tech Expert to Cybersecurity Leader
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If you're a tech expert, stepping into a leadership role in cybersecurity can allow you to significantly influence and improve your organization's security posture by driving strategic changes and innovation. It can also accelerate your professional growth as you develop critical skills and advance your career prospects in a highly valued field. But fear of increased responsibility and potential failure or a lack of confidence in your skills or qualifications can prevent you from attempting to make the move.

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While formal education can provide a strong foundation, many find it too costly or time-consuming. There are many ways to develop and demonstrate leadership qualities without it. Here are 10 specific actions you can take to be seen as "leadership material" in cybersecurity:

  1. Build and share expertise through industry publications. Writing articles, blogs or white papers on cybersecurity topics and sharing your insights on platforms such as LinkedIn, Medium or industry-specific forums can position you as an expert. This public demonstration of your knowledge can build your reputation and show your willingness to educate and influence others.
  2. Engage in cybersecurity communities. Join and actively contribute to online forums, local cybersecurity groups and professional organizations. Sharing your knowledge and engaging in discussions can enhance your visibility and establish you as a thought leader in the cybersecurity community. A quick online search will net dozens of results for organizations near you.
  3. Offer to lead projects. Volunteer to lead projects at work. This might include organizing a security awareness campaign or managing a small team for a specific task. Showing initiative in these roles can demonstrate your leadership potential and readiness to take on more responsibility.
  4. Volunteer to mentor others. Offer to mentor junior colleagues or peers new to cybersecurity. Sharing your knowledge and helping others grow can build your leadership skills and establish you as a supportive and knowledgeable figure within your organization.
  5. Develop strong communication and presentation skills. Practice delivering clear, concise and engaging presentations on cybersecurity topics. Effective communication is crucial for leadership, so work on translating complex technical concepts into easily understandable language for various audiences, from technical teams to executive management. It you hate public speaking, try to work through it and keep practicing.
  6. Create and share resources. What information would have made your life easier when you were new to cybersecurity? Create practical guides, tutorials or cheat sheets on cybersecurity practices and share them with your colleagues or the broader community. Providing valuable resources can demonstrate your expertise and willingness to help others and further solidify your leadership potential.
  7. Stay updated and share relevant content. Regularly share updates on the latest cybersecurity trends, news and best practices with your network. Relate this information to your team and the work you do. Keeping others informed can show that you are knowledgeable about the industry and reinforce your reputation as a thought leader.
  8. Proactively solve problems. Identify security issues within your organization and propose effective solutions. Think through the best time, place and manner to discuss the issue with current leaders. Making attempts to address problems and improve security measures can showcase your proactive approach and leadership potential.
  9. Network and build relationships with industry leaders. Connect with established cybersecurity leaders and influencers by attending industry events, webinars and meetups. Expanding your network and building relationships with respected figures in the field can enhance your credibility and provide you with valuable mentorship opportunities.
  10. Exhibit professionalism and integrity. Consistently demonstrate professionalism, ethical behavior and a strong work ethic. Leading by example can inspire others and make it clear that you embody the qualities of leadership. Protect your reputation by consistently demonstrating ethical behavior; once trust is broken, it is incredibly difficult to earn leadership roles.

The key is to making the move from tech expert to leader is to consistently show your commitment to the field, your willingness to help others and your ability to effectively communicate and solve problems. Through these actions, you can build a reputation as a knowledgeable, proactive and reliable leader in cybersecurity.

About the Author

Brandy Harris

Brandy Harris

Director, Learning And Organizational Development,

Harris has more than 20 years of experience in education and is dedicated to evolving the cybersecurity workforce. She develops and evaluates cybersecurity programs. Harris promotes diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity by fostering collaboration between industry and academia, aiming to bridge the talent gap and drive positive change. She previously served as assistant dean and faculty member in the graduate cybersecurity program at Grand Canyon University.

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