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Strategies, advice and opinions helping to define and develop the role of IT leaders and their staffs.

Mission Security

Q & A with Bryan Rutledge, Regional Vice President and Canadian Country Manager, McAfee

I recently had the opportunity to participate at MPOWER, McAfee’s annual cybersecurity summit where several major announcements were made. I was looking forward to meeting with Bryan Rutledge, McAfee Canada’s General Manager, to understand a Canadian perspective.

We spoke about Bryan’s journey at McAfee; his insight into what confronts CIOs on their digital transformation journeys; and McAfee’s efforts to help address those challenges. I asked Bryan for his advice for implementing a security strategy. He also gave me a glimpse into his leadership style and the one thing he tries to emulate from his CEO.

Q: Let’s talk about your journey at McAfee and what’s keeping you here.

I’ve been with McAfee for 11 years in a variety of leadership roles, from Canada to the UK, and back to Canada. It’s been four years since I’ve been the country leader. Many things are keeping me here. First, Chris Young’s leadership is key to our strategy in what we’re doing and where we’re going. He’s a unique leader in that he makes himself accessible to everyone. I met Chris three months after he had joined the company. We were able to build a good rapport from the beginning. That’s important when you can relate to your leader and know that your leadership listens to you and that your opinions matter. I really believe in his vision and leadership.

Secondly, I believe in our mission, goals, and strategy. In his keynote this morning, Chris talked about how all the people at McAfee are dedicated to what we do and that we have a pledge. Every employee has signed a pledge. In our office in Markham, we have a pledge wall. The pledge is about why we do what we do.

The pledge, our values, and mission are why I’m so excited to be here. Security is something that affects everyone deeply. I’m a father of two. My son is in second year university and he’s taking computer science. I’m talking to him about the world of security and he’s getting excited about it. It just touches everything we do. As our houses, devices, and cars become more IP enabled, it’s an important job to keep ourselves and our information safe.

Q: In your experience working with CIOs and CISOs, what do you observe as the main cybersecurity challenges confronting them?

A big challenge that they’re facing is the journey to the cloud. This is a key part of the digital transformation that all companies are going through, willingly or not. If you look at Microsoft office 365 for example, almost every company is going to the office 365 infrastructure, if they haven’t already. The challenge is how to move through this transformation journey and do it in a secure way to protect data, applications and infrastructure. When I talk to CIOs and CISOs, it’s clear that the security conversation is prominent at the board level. It’s usually one of the first things on the board meeting agenda because of what’s happening in the marketplace and all the breaches that occur. I think they’re faced with “I want to be agile, I want to move to the cloud, I want to be able to move my business forward, but I also want to be able to put measures in place to address security”. Trying to harmonize that balancing act is one of the most common themes I’ve seen.

Another challenge is complexity created by the proliferation of tools. Most companies have too many tools and products, so they need to look at how to consolidate to get more efficiency. At McAfee, we’ve been focusing on converging our tool sets. The announcements we made around converged web, cloud, and Data Loss Protection solutions has been well received at the executive level because they’re looking at how to do more with less, protecting their data, and ensuring that security is embedded in the cloud.

Then there’s the topic of talent shortage. McAfee Canada sponsored a new cybersecurity education program at the University of Guelph that was launched in September. We started to put the program together a couple of years ago. We made a seven-figure donation to support this initiative. Our goal is to produce more talent out of the university that will have hands-on and real-world experience out of the gate. They’re running a lab that’s using all toolsets from McAfee, so that the people getting the degrees can work with real tools and technology. As a result, they come out of the university system ready to enter the workforce and add immediate value. We try to influence as much as we can to help develop cybersecurity talent.

Q: How do you broker the opportunities between the students currently in the program and companies?

There’s an advisory board for the program that includes partners, cybersecurity vendors, corporate clients, and I. We have quite a few organizations in the GTA area that are interested in participating, sponsoring scholarships and work terms, and willing to acquire the talent when they graduate. The university is doing a great job connecting the business community with students. I also help socialize and amplify to customers. It’s exciting and rewarding to be able to contribute. I was talking to the guy in charge of the program today and he told me that first year they have 16 -18 students and 6-8 are women. The majority of them are international. It’s a great mix of people coming into the program. We need more diversity and we live by the goal of creating a diversified workforce at McAfee. It’s really encouraging to see more women and visible minorities joining the program.

Q: What are you hoping that participants will take away from attending MPOWER?

One of the key takeaways is to understand our goals and strategies as an organization. We believe in a few core elements. We believe in protecting you and your data, from device to the cloud. We believe in being open and being able to bring value to our customer base through solutions like Insights. We believe that we’re the only organization in the world that can provide this kind of service. Customers and partners have been asking for something like this for quite a while. We’re excited to bring that to the market and being able to provide a much better level of insight into the global threat landscape in relation to an individual or a company from a security posture perspective. This solution allows customers to be more proactive with contextual information in their approach for threat detection and management.

Q: How would the announcements resonate with Canadian organizations?

One thing that would really resonate is our unified cloud security. We’ve talked to a lot of Canadian customers recently and as mentioned, CIOs are trying to move forward with their digital transformation agendas. As they’re moving to the cloud, they’re concerned about security. Canada is adopting cloud, but many are still at early stages. They’re looking for ways to deal with challenges. Our ability to converge web data loss protection and a cloud access security broker (CASB) together into one cohesive solution will be one of the first things I’d talk to our customers about, because there’s a great deal of value to simplify their workflow utilizing cloud and adding security into the context.

The other piece that would really resonate is the Insights and End Point Detection Response (EDR). We’re using AI in our EDR approach to enable guided investigations. We’re able to bring greater value from a time perspective. For example, when you do an investigation with our tool it takes six minutes versus 20 screens and two hours with competitor tools. The time and productivity gains are very powerful value propositions. Our EDR tool also helps to address the skill shortage. Because it’s hard to find top level SOC engineers, by utilizing our tool, you can help a lower level engineer learn more about the process and increase their skill level. You hire someone who may be junior, but because of the tools with AI, you can increase their capacity and their value to your organization.

Q: Are there any barriers to entry for new customers?

I guess the biggest pushback we would be getting from acquiring new customers would be legacy portfolios they already have. I would put it this way: every customer has some sort of security toolset. The challenge is how to move from one platform to another. Their perception might be that it is too complex. The challenge for us is how to articulate the value so that it resonates with them. This is not a unique Canadian problem. All customers are risk averse. Change always incurs risk in some way. It’s about weighing the benefit versus the risk.

Q: Your CEO spoke about the open architecture as a key foundation of your ecosystem strategy. How does this play out in Canada?

We’re doing a lot of work with our partners around building managed services. We have both national and regional partners that are delivering services. That’s one thing we’re doing as a Canadian organization that is somewhat different than the US. This strategy allows us to address the uniqueness of our markets where we have smaller mid-market customers who need more help because they don’t necessarily have a security team in-house. In the last couple of years, we’ve been focusing on expanding our channel significantly.

Q: Do you have any advice for a CIO or CISO when they implement a cybersecurity strategy?

First, I would say that it’s not about technology; it’s about building a pragmatic approach to security. Secondly, I would encourage them as they’re building out their security strategy, to understand that digital transformation is about increasing their ability to go to market. As they’re looking at security tools, they need to choose the ones that enable that journey. You don’t want to constrain yourself as you move to the cloud because of security. You want security to be a partner on the way. That has to start in the early stages. CIO and CISOs need be at the executive table to make their organizations understand that.

Having a clear strategic goal that resonates throughout the entire organization is very important. Oftentimes, we’ll talk to a CIO, a CISO, an SVP, or a VP, and not everyone is on the same page. In order for the transformation journey to be successful, it’s imperative for everyone to be working toward the same goal.

Q: I’d like to finish this interview with a question about your leadership style. What’s Bryan’s leadership DNA?

For me as a leader, the first thing is being able to inspire people. I’ve spoken about Chris and why I follow Chris because he inspires me. I try to exhibit the same quality with my team. If we inspire, then we motivate. That’s a key difference between a leader and a manager.

The second thing is that I believe in providing transparency and candour to people in our organization. I work closely with my management team to demonstrate as much candour as I can and include them in my decision process. I would say I’m more of a democratic leader. Most of the decisions I make are in collaboration with my leaders.

Nasheen Liu is the Managing Partner and SVP, CIO Program Strategy at the IT Media Group spearheading the company’s business plan and leading our media and executive branding practice. She also chairs our CIO Advisory Board comprised of senior IT executives from industry and academia.

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ADP - VP Architecture & Infrastructure

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Agrium - Global Mgr., IT Security

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Air Canada Vacations - Director IT

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