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|From the President|
ISSA International President Candy Alexander
I recently was asked to be the keynote speaker for a virtual conference, and the topic that they requested me to speak on was the importance of diverse teams and networking. As any good keynote speaker should, I wanted to inspire attendees in the similar manner that I had been inspired when I saw great keynote speakers such as Admiral Grace Hopper, Howard Schmidt, Dr. Ron Ross, Gene "Spaf" Spafford, and Winn Schwartau.
I had begun to reflect on my thoughts of what diverse teams meant to me and why they were important. I thought back to some of the core principles I had learned in my youth and one that sticks out and has stuck with me throughout my life, is the HR campaign of "Valuing Differences." The whole concept behind this, as the title suggests, is to recognize that we are all different, that we all have something special to bring to the table, that one individual is not more important than others on the team, that we all bring value. Many years later, I've come to cherish the lesson of valuing differences from so many years ago because it still rings true--in all aspects of our societies, communities, and teams.
When I think of the ISSA, I truly believe it is inherent to our culture as an organization. After all, this association was started by two women back in the mid-'80s when women in technology (security was barely a "thing" back then) was a rarity. I attribute that as being why women excel into leadership in our association and is "matter of fact." Of course, I still see instances of non-diverse thinking, but they are few and those actions aren't long lived. The ISSA has always been about the individual, not the gender or ethnicity for that matter. It's about people helping people.
Other challenges in diversity that many do not consciously recognize are cognitive thinking, experience levels, and levels of knowledge or background. As a matter of fact, I would say that our association actually embraces those differences and is the reason for our success. Our core principles are about fostering the growth of cybersecurity professionals, and it does not matter what your age, gender, or experience level is. And to that point, we should recognize what we have been doing for so long now and be proud!
Whether it is while working for your company or in ISSA chapters or working groups, keep embracing diversity and make sure you are applying these concepts. I encourage all of you to consider these key principles of successful (and diverse) teams: respect for all -- treat everyone equally and with respect; open communications, leaving out emotions if you can; embrace learning -- not just technology, but life lessons as well; and transparency -- be completely open, but respectful!
I will close this month's letter with the invitation to contact me with any feedback regarding our association, good or bad!
Candy Alexander, CISSP CISM