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Risk: The bridge between business and security

Apr 15, 20164 mins
CareersIT JobsIT Leadership

Kirsten Davies, HPE Vice President – Enterprise Security Strategy & “Protect” Transformation Solutions is this week's LifeJourney mentor of the week

risk management
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When Kristen Davies, HPE vice president – enterprise security strategy & “protect” transformation solutions, owned a career consulting firm several years ago, she was involved in a lot of large IT transformations and finance transformations around BI.

“Working through my consulting practice, I really started to be able to bring my business perspective to that world of transformation and draw true lines and bridges across lines that are traditionally very separate,” Davies said.

That bridge, Davies said, is risk. “The soft skills, like communication skills, help to translate tech into a risk discussion,” Davies said. Coming into the security industry via the business side allowed her to get people talking about risk.

“Cyber is more about enterprise risk management than anything else. You can never make a company 100 percent secure,” Davies said. You can, however, make risks transparent by highlighting them and helping the business to prioritize what is most important.

Davies eventually transitioned from the consulting role to an internal practitioner role, which led her to HPE, where she has been asked to return to this business side of transformation by taking on yet another new challenge in this role with transition solutions. 

[ MORE RISK: Trust in the new world: The evolving role of the Chief Risk Officer ]

Communication skills have allowed Davies to successfully understand security as a global issue and address risks that impact international organizations. She has lived and worked on three continents and has done work across four continents.

“The trend in cyber,” she said, “is ever changing legislation and often data privacy conflicting with labor laws. That is a huge piece of the practitioner aspect that I bring,” Davies said.

Davies went on to say that, “Understanding how people work, how employees and citizens view their own data, and how that fits into legislation especially when we are working with multinational corporations,” is critical across shifting landscapes because the ways that companies develop their cyber security policies changes depending on geography.

Davies was delighted to share the trajectory of her own career, but when I asked about her involvement with LifeJourney, her energy and enthusiasm radiated across the airwaves. I could almost see her light up.

“I am really passionate about education. People with inquisitive minds who are hard working and wiling to learn things should have opportunities to expand themselves,” Davies said.

That there is room for everybody is a strong belief for Davies, who also said, “There needs to be an understanding of how people can map what they are good at and what they are passionate about, what their experience and education is and map those to needs in the industry.”

Her own career represents the goals of LifeJourney. With a background in economics, finance, and political science she began working in a field where she was able to have hands on cultural training. “Living and working abroad to understand how people and corporations are subject to different regulations and labor laws that do or do not protect them depending on where they are working,” Davies said, is what has prepared her for the work she does in cyber security.

Whether young people are passionate about automotive and they like to tinker with and build engines or design cars or get their hands dirty, “All of that is designed  in a computer program. Architecture, designing buildings, all done through tech these days. Anything they are passionate about is linked to tech,” Davies said. 

Another belief that guided Davies toward her involvement with LifeJourney is the recognition that, “In some ways we have failed from a tech perspective to reach into the passion kids have and show them how that maps to technology. If we can go backwards and ask how tech enables what they love and what they are passionate about, we can figure out how to help them understand the ways those passions map into cyber,” she said..

Learners in the K-12 classrooms, said Davies, are bright eyed and open to whatever the world will bring them. “The k-12 range is such a beautiful time in life. We can give kids tools, and anything we can give them, they will use them, soak them up like a sponge, and leverage them,” Davies said.


Kacy Zurkus is a freelance writer for CSO and has contributed to several other publications including The Parallax, and K12 Tech Decisions. She covers a variety of security and risk topics as well as technology in education, privacy and dating. She has also self-published a memoir, Finding My Way Home: A Memoir about Life, Love, and Family under the pseudonym "C.K. O'Neil."

Zurkus has nearly 20 years experience as a high school teacher on English and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University (2011). She earned a Master's in Education from University of Massachusetts (1999) and a BA in English from Regis College (1996). Recently, The University of Southern California invited Zurkus to give a guest lecture on social engineering.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Kacy Zurkus and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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