Career Notes 5.29.22
Ep 102 | 5.29.22

Michael Scott: A team of humble intellects. [Information security]


Michael Scott: Hello, my name is Mike Scott, and I'm a Chief Information Security Officer at Immuta.

Michael Scott: My first introduction was really in the Navy right after high school. Um, it was like looking at different things from satellite imagery, working with Solaris, um, like sparks and things like that. Um, really got my first introduction into, you know, working with PCs on a regular basis, but also the concepts of data protection and security as well. Growing up in a small town, really not sure what I wanted to do when I, when I grew up the Navy seemed like a good place to start and, you know, really was a fantastic few years for me to, um, if nothing more motivate me to, uh, get into the career I am now.

Michael Scott: So after that I got my first technology job right out of the Navy, working for an internet service provider. That really gave me an opportunity to expand upon networking, network concepts, um, early days of, of internet service, you know, when, when AOL was still sending out disks and then that company about a year and a half later went bankrupt as AOL and, and some of the other providers exploded. That's where I moved on to a small startup in Atlanta called witness systems. At the time there were, I think I was employee 25, um, and spent about 11 years with that company, when I left, we were about 1300 employees.

Michael Scott: After that I spent a little time at Arby's, um, the restaurant company, right before an acquisition of Wendy's, uh, and spent a good part of eight years there leading the security function for first Arby's, then Wendy's Arby's group, and then finally Wendy's international, and then from there I left and spent a little time consulting at NCR, then moved on and spent a couple of years at Optiv in the office of the CISO where my primarily role was supporting, um, as a non-billable resource. Um, and then after there I left and spent a little time at Spearin, uh, startup in St. Petersburg, Florida, and then landed here at Immuta for the last year and a half.

Michael Scott: When they brought me on board, of course, the first thing they wanted to do is achieve PCI compliance. Um, because that was still early on in PCI days, but more over, you know, what we started really looking at was the security of obviously restaurants and PCI and card data, you know, high risk, um, items and looking how we can not only improve the security of the organization, but also increase the operational uptime, I built that program from the ground up and focused on operational stability as much as security and picking the right architecture and simplifying a lot of things, and at the end of the day, what we found was, um, we had a very repeatable PCI program, but also the security of the restaurants was increased greatly.

Michael Scott: Busy is an understatement, um, I'd say probably a little bit of chaos right now. Um, really with our incredible growth and some of the customers that were, that were pulling on board at Immuta , some top, you know, probably fortune 50 companies. We launched our SAS platform last year, so cloud security has been a big focus, um, but you know, there's never a stop in, in demands from the business and our customers, especially with the evolving privacy landscape. So, right now we're spending a lot of time building out our privacy program, focusing on new certifications, ISO 2701 and 701. Um, to really address the demands of our customers and give them that trust in the platform. So a lot of time in cloud right now, and sometime an application security, those are probably the two things that are keeping us the most busy right now.

Michael Scott: I consider myself a team member more than anything, you know, I definitely say my employees and former employees would say my style is very casual, but you know, for me, I like to think of myself as, as a contributor on the team. Now my job is to obviously lead, create strategy, and evolve the team. But, you know, I like to get my hands on, like to support the team, you know, at the end of the day, we're all there for one mission. So I see myself, you know, on the same level. And I think that's that humble style is, is not only mine, but one of the things that drew me to uh, Immuta. It really is just a collection of a lot of, we call him humble intellects, but I think that's what drew me in there, was just really being able to focus on outcomes and not titles and responsibilities and who you are, how long you've been in the industry.

Michael Scott: Adversity is obviously, I'd say almost a cornerstone of, of being in the security community. Um, you know, we're always creating work for other teams. Creating complexity that is necessary in a lot of times, but you know, really first being able to understand what you're trying to accomplish, uh, making sure the folks you're working with, understanding what you're trying to accomplish and if you move the needle forward just a little bit, I mean, I think you have to really recognize that accomplishment, you know, sometimes and insecurity and privacy, we may spend, you know, months or even years trying to accomplish certain things, and that can be very, um, demotivating to a lot of folks, you know, and so I think keeping front of mind what you are doing, what you are accomplishing, the things that you have done are so important, but also, you know, learning from others, which I love what you guys are doing here is learning from others sometimes just how to pitch an idea. I think at the end of the day, I can look back and see some of my biggest accomplishments may have taken years to accomplish a certain organizations, but they are still wonderful accomplishments. So I think adversity is part of it, but I think keeping focused and, um, quite frankly, keeping good, whether it's metrics or just, you know, quarterly updates on what your program is doing and what you're accomplishing help in that, not losing the energy to keep that flight up.

Michael Scott: I'd say it's a fantastic career to move into. Um, so definitely encourage folks when you look at our unemployment rate um, this is a great industry. I think really understanding the business is incredibly important. I've met a lot of technologists in my, in my career and a lot of fantastic engineers and what differentiates folks career wise and how they progress to me is understanding that the business needs to accomplish certain outcomes, and our job is to support those and not be the department of no, you know, we have to help the business, understand the risks they're taking, um, help them come up with a way for it to be a yes, most importantly, and be curious. So I think that curiosity and understanding what you're doing and how it impacts the business are super critical to anyone. I think if you're getting into this, you really have to think right now, it's such a, such an interesting time where you don't necessarily have to go get that four year degree to get into this industry.

Michael Scott: Ultimately I hope to be remembered as an enabler to the business and a fantastic mentor, you know, I hope when that time comes, whether it's to move on to another opportunity or maybe win the lottery and retire. I also hope that someone from my team has taken the ranks. Um, so I think that is really the most important part for me is people see that my contribution was more to the people than the program.