Countdown to RSAC 2020: Q&A with Wendy Nather

Posted on by RSAC Editorial Team

As we’re just weeks away from RSAC 2020, we’re excited to share this year’s RSAC Ambassador Q&A’s with you! We’ve interviewed a fabulous cross-section of attendees to share their perspectives on why they attend RSAC, where they go to network and their favorite spots to check out in San Francisco. Keep checking back on the blog for new content!

First up, we chatted with Wendy Nather, RSAC Advisory Board member and Head of Advisory CISOs, Duo Security at Cisco:


How many times have you attended RSAC?

The exact number is lost in the sands of time, but I think I started attending in 2009 or 2010. I’ve mostly been to San Francisco, but I think I attended one Conference in London as well.


What is the topic of your session?

I’m doing two sessions this year. The first one is a keynote called “We the People: Democratizing Security,” and it pulls together several themes that I’ve been working on and thinking about over the past decade. The second one is an experimental session in the Engagement Zone, where I facilitate a problem-solving discussion on managing security technical debt. The idea is to give attendees a place to talk about a particularly stubborn problem with peers and get insights and contacts to take with them afterwards.


How are you preparing for your session?

I’d like to be able to say I’m doing keto and CrossFit, but I’m really just looking for a couple of pairs of comfy shoes! For each session, I’m reaching out to experts who can help me refine my ideas and give me feedback. Only one session requires a slide deck, but I’d better make sure my PowerPoint game is particularly strong this year. There will be lots of rehearsing, deep breathing and possibly chocolate involved.


What skills/info will those who attend your session walk away with?

For the problem-solving session, I hope that attendees will find likeminded practitioners to continue their conversations with after Conference, and that they’ll come away with a few insights from those who have successfully tackled technical debt. They may also have a chance to give input into larger industry initiatives; we need to connect more policymakers with security professionals at every level.


Who is a memorable/favorite speaker you’ve heard at RSAC?

There are so many that I can never get to them all. Katie Moussouris is always sharp and entertaining; Wade Baker and Jay Jacobs (from the Cyentia Institute) bring data to every security fight, which I love to see. I’m very much looking forward to hearing from Heather Vescent and Bob Blakley this year, about the future of security.


What’s your favorite spot to get a good meal in San Francisco?

I don’t often stray far from the Moscone area, but one of my very favorites nearby is Amber India. They have a palak chaat (crispy fried spinach) that is so light, delicate and delicious that you have to eat it quickly. I usually finish up with a nice masala chai for dessert.


Outside of sessions and the expo, which program is a must-attend for you?

I love supporting the RSAC Security Scholars Program. Being able to talk to the attending scholars from programs far and wide, and hearing about their projects, makes me feel better about the state of our industry. Mind you, I feel older but also better.


What is your favorite part about being an RSAC Advisory Board member?

Often when you look at the sheer scale and complexity of RSA Conference, you feel as if it’s a juggernaut that runs unstoppably on its own. But as an Advisory Board member, I get to hear from the hardworking staff who make it happen, and I learn about the challenges that they cleverly manage behind the scenes. Sometimes I even get to help a little bit, and that’s exciting.


You can catch Wendy’s RSA keynote “We the People: Democratizing Security” on February 25 at Moscone West.

RSAC Editorial Team

Editorial, RSA Conference

Wendy Nather

Head of Advisory CISOs, Cisco

RSAC Insights

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