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  • Writer's pictureHarshil Shah

Insights from a CISO: Overcoming IT Crises and Fostering Team Growth

Insights from a CISO Overcoming IT Crises and Fostering Team Growth

Insights from a CISO Panel Prep Meeting

Recently, we had an enlightening conversation with Chuck, who shared his extensive experience in the IT and security fields, as we prepared for an upcoming CISO panel discussion. Here’s a detailed look at the key points from that conversation

Insights from a CISO Overcoming IT Crises and Fostering Team Growth

Introduction to the Panel and Chuck’s Role

The panel was set to take place in Houston and was geared towards IT security leaders from organizations with a minimum of 200 employees. Our target audience typically had at least 15 to 20 years of corporate experience, including a decade in leadership roles. The panel aimed to foster collaboration through discussions, roundtables, and networking sessions rather than traditional lectures.

We presented Chuck with two panel options:

  1. Forward-Looking Predictions: Panelists would discuss future challenges and predictions in the IT security field.

  2. David and Goliath Experiences: Panelists would share their success and failure stories, offering insights from their own careers.

Chuck’s Experiences and Insights

Chuck had a wealth of experiences to draw from, having dealt with numerous complex situations in his career. Here are some highlights:

Handling a Major System Failure

A few years ago, Chuck was involved in a Novell upgrade at a Department of Justice facility. When central office changes wiped out the system at a 556-bed hospital, Chuck prioritized re-imaging workstations and kept one server up with the old operating system. Despite immense pressure and challenges, he managed to restore the system, highlighting the importance of maintaining composure and having a backup plan.

Dealing with a Ransomware Attack at NASA

Chuck also shared an incident at NASA, where a ransomware attack occurred due to a staff member's inappropriate file access. With the virus spreading quickly, Chuck isolated the infected server and managed to recover data with minimal loss, thanks to a robust backup system. This incident underscored the critical role of preparedness and decisive action in crisis management.

Balancing the CIO and CISO Roles

At the Department of Justice, Chuck simultaneously held the roles of CIO and CISO. This unique situation required him to balance the responsibilities of advancing technology while ensuring security. He highlighted the complexities of managing both roles and the importance of maintaining a high-performance team by fostering a learning environment where risks were encouraged and failures were treated as learning opportunities.

The Value of Diverse and Inclusive Teams

Chuck emphasized the importance of building diverse and inclusive teams. He often took recruitment into his own hands to ensure he had the right mix of talents and perspectives. By keeping his team members out of their comfort zones and encouraging continuous learning, Chuck was able to develop a high-performance team that was crucial to the organization's success.

Preparing for the Panel

Joseph Wolfgram, the panel moderator, explained the format and the conversational nature of the discussion. The panelists would share their experiences and insights, followed by questions from peers in the audience. The goal was to create an engaging and interactive session that provided valuable lessons and practical solutions to common challenges.


Chuck’s experiences and insights provided a rich foundation for the upcoming panel discussion. His stories of overcoming significant challenges, managing dual roles, and building effective teams were both inspiring and instructive. The panel promised to be a valuable opportunity for IT security leaders to learn from each other and gain new perspectives on tackling the complex issues they face.

For more information and deeper insights, connect with Harshil Shah at

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