Mark Walmsley, CISO of global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, shares his perspectives about the importance of getting maximum return from your time at conferences, and the importance of opportunities for CISOs to build meaningful dialogue with other practitioners and vendors.
Are you suffering from conference fatigue? You know, that familiar din as you attempt to traverse the never-ending conference floor only to be stalled in your tracks by vendor after vendor touting the latest “silver bullet” for EVERY cyber vulnerability. After three days you realise that no amount of freebie squidgy stress balls can ever relieve the foot-ache.
And yet, relationship building, networking and discussion with peers are invaluable to CISOs. When it’s increasingly important for any time away from the office to deliver the best ROI, does the traditional formula of large-scale exhibitions make the best use of their time? How can CISOs gain value from events and forums without having to trawl through the claptrap?
The problem with cyber security conferences
Mark Walmsley, CISO at Freshfields, says that the problem with the security industry is that there are so many commoditised events driven by retailers who hound you for the day. “You leave feeling there was some good content but I was glad I got in and got out,” he adds.
The ‘cattle-fest’ approach used to work but the role of the CISO is changing. Now CISOs don’t just want to talk about technology, they also want to have a conversation about strategy. “You've got to get in and have the right conversation with the right person at the right level, otherwise you're just getting a salesperson,” he states.
This is why Mark is part of a team putting together a closed-door, alternative event, Cyber Security Connect UK, where he aims to facilitate enriching dialogue across various industry players. Over a 3 day conference in Monaco, handpicked attendees - CISOs, academics, lawyers, vendors, the intelligence service - will gather together to discuss the challenges of cyber security, strategise, and have constructive conversations.
Based on the same concept as Les Assises de la Securité, Cyber Security Connect UK will be held from 7 to 9 November 2018 and welcome over 400 participants, 37 partners, 41 round tables and workshops, 3 conferences & keynotes and prestigious guests from both the public and private spheres, top ISS experts and professionals from the UK.
Mark states: “The problem is that technology isn’t meeting the needs of our defence at the moment. The cyber threat is growing exponentially. Everyone is just relying upon technology as being the saviour but it’s not being deployed quick enough.”
It’s important for Mark that attendees glean value from the closed-door, confidential event which will serve as “a bit of counselling to know that we're all in the same world together and we've all got the same challenges,” Mark explains.
Another unique feature of the event is vendors cannot approach CISOs without an introduction. The CISO decides which company they’d like to talk to and then an introduction can be made - an element which makes the meeting “less intense and more productive,” Mark adds.
Above all, for Mark, Cyber Connect UK is about having quality conversations with quality people.
To find out more about Cyber Connect UK, in partnership with SASIG, go to: www.cybersecurityconnectuk.com