What I learned from pitching IAM to my CIO

Posted on by Steve Tout in Business,Career

As economic growth continues and the world becomes more connected in ways never before imaginable, so too does the frequency, probability and inevitability that sensitive data and applications will be compromised within yours or your customer’s organization. To keep up with this state of constant change, you have to adapt, and change yourself in order to be effective and add value wherever you are. Eventually you will find that in order to take your efforts to the next level, you will need funding for your program, and that involves having some higher level conversations including keeping your CIO informed, if not pitching him to sponsor or fund the program you are trying to build.

Earlier this year I pitched a $6M multi-year IAM program to my CIO and the overall experience was so rich and rewarding that I wanted to dwell on it to discover what I might learn about being a more enlightened producer within my company. Lots of interesting conversations, seasoned with some challenges along the way, combined with blue sky thinking empowered me to present my work to my CIO with greater confidence and clarity.

I present the following five disciplines that you will need to get into in the right mindset for imagining, developing and pitching your ideas to your organizations leaders.

  • You are in the idea business – I spend 2 hours every day reading or listening to, thinking about and organizing news articles, white papers, audio books, emails and the like. You will need to put in the time to develop the vision, framework and model that will drive your organization’s IAM program forward. Nobody else has the expertise and knowledge of your domain, so it is up to you to evangelize and educate IT leaders and stakeholders on how the next generation of IAM will manifest inside your organization.
  • Get crystal clear on your purpose and mission – Your organization may give you a job title and annual performance objectives, but you will almost certainly burn out and never find true fulfillment in the work you do if you do not choose the work yourself or make sure that it aligns with who you are as a person. For example, “IT leader focused on the scale, security and governance of IAM” is a tagline I created to allow others to easily see who I am and what I care about in my professional life. This clarity of purpose and mission becomes the lens through which you and others will see yourself, and will lead you to important work.
  • Look at global trends – To become successful in the architecture and strategy role requires you to be hyper-focused on the future of IAM for your organization and how the undercurrents within the company the larger industry put your IAM program at greater risk. Understanding the trends, such as mobile computing, software defined networking, integrated GRC, identity-as-a-service and big data science should help you to develop ideas about how the IAM of the future must evolve to enable your business. Global trends, or even standards on the emerging end of the spectrum, will spell demise for legacy systems and processes create opportunities for others.
  • Integrate thinking and doing – It certainly helped my pitch to my CIO to be able to explain how I had already delivered a proposal for the IT projects review board for a multi-million dollar project that was accepted and approved. I never hesitated to remain actively involved in the work of the IT leader, identifying and taking on opportunities to drive the IAM program forward, at the expense of planning and strategy. The former is a rich source of insight for the latter and forms a powerful symbiotic relationship that is often lacking in organizations today.
  • Get supporters behind you – My wife asked me, on the day I was to present to my CIO, whether or not I was nervous about the big meeting. The truth is that I had rehearsed, reviewed and tested my ideas so many times with both sponsors inside the organization and mentors outside of it that there was no way I could be nervous. Not leaving anything to chance, I knew going into that meeting that collaborating with and getting on the same page as my CISO and VP of Architecture and Strategy would make my job of pitching a lot easier, and much less like trying to dribble a football down the court.

I admit that what I have described above might sound remarkably similar to the obsessive, compulsive control freak; the same horrible boss who in some organizations is unbearable to work with or gets him or herself fired for being unmanageable. But for those with an internal compass and the courage to navigate the murky waters with knowledge that what lies beyond is a clear blue sky with calm waters and white sandy beaches… to him the opportunity is given and rightly deserved.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. -Andy Warhol

To hear me speak more about pitching IAM to my CIO and the rest of my Top 10 Lessons Learned, join me in my session at the Cloud Identity Summit in La Jolla, California on Monday June 8th at 4:00pm.

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