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CISO Boot Camp Q&A with Michael Palmer, CISO of the National Football League

As part of our constant push to make RSA Conference as valuable as it can be for as many attendees as possible, this year we’re introducing the RSAC CISO Boot Camp, a one-and-a-half-day program designed specifically for CISOs, held March 5 & 6 at Conference. 

Created to spark open and relevant conversations among top security leaders, the CISO Boot Camp brings together 100 CISOs from some of the world’s most prestigious companies for open and frank discussions in a closed-door environment. 

One of the key architects behind the CISO Boot Camp is Michael Palmer, CISO of the National Football League. We recently spoke with Michael about the CISO Boot Camp, his role, what he’s excited about and what he hopes attendees will come away with. 

Note: there is still limited space available for the Boot Camp, so sign up soon!

Why did you get involved in the CISO Boot Camp and what will your role be?

I've attended many RSA Conferences over my career. And I've always thought to myself “wow that was interesting or that wasn't. It could have been better if they did that this way.”  I also noticed that there wasn't enough diversity in the programming. So when I was offered the opportunity to join the Program Committee it was a no brainer for a couple of reasons. 

This was an opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth is. To be a change agent. To make things better to put a twist on aspects of the program to make it better. I remember stating that I would only join if we were able to add more diversity elements to program. I was thrilled when I was told that diversity is critical to RSA Conference, that there would be no all-male panels on the keynote stage and that RSAC would be a more inclusive environment. 

I also viewed this as a learning opportunity for me. To work with industry thought leaders and other CISO Boot Camp Program Committee members such as Dawn, John, Tim, Dave and Dan is a truly humbling experience for me. 

The experience was more than I imagined. We had active discussions and it's important to note that when we started this was the CISO Insights program. But once we started the collaboration effort and thought about what the attendees will walk away with, we ended up realizing that it was a Boot Camp. 

My role, along with Dawn, will be to open up the CISO Boot Camp Program. It will also be to ensure that the content is delivered as designed to achieve the programing goals. Additionally, I will introduce speakers and I have a session that I'm presenting. 

What do you hope attendees will get out of the Boot Camp?

I think that as CISOs our time is valuable. Time is not something you can buy so it's important that it's used efficiently and effectively. The ultimate question I ask is: was that time well spent? 

I hope that all the Boot Camp attendees walk away with new nuggets of information, tactics, techniques, that can be applied back at home. I hope that since this is more of an intimate setting, as the attendance is capped, that they build long-lasting relationships with other attendees as well as with the presenters. 

What are you most looking forward to at the CISO Boot Camp?

I think the capstone project. You spend the day and a half learning. Now it's time to apply what you learned and put it to use in this simulated wargame. I think it's going to be a lot of fun and educational as well. 

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you became a CISO?

When I was becoming a CISO nothing like this existed. This is an awesome opportunity. Typically, you attend training classes that are taught by people with book knowledge and little practical experience. All of the RSAC CISO Boot Camp sessions are taught by experienced practitioners; many are top-level CISOs that have walked the CISO path for many years. I haven’t seen something like this anywhere else. 

How can attending CISOs make the best use of the boot camp?

Network, network and network some more. Don't just collect cards and/or LinkedIn requests. Make connections and build relationships. You will be in a room of talented professionals that are future contacts for you when you have questions, bounce strategies off of or just shoot the breeze. I hope you leave the CISO Boot Camp with friends and not just acquaintances. Opportunities like this one don't come by that often. There are plenty of chances to connect with others as we made time in the schedule for receptions, meals as well as visits to the Expo show floor. Use your time wisely. 

What would you tell CISOs who are on the fence about attending?

I wish this type of program was available when I was just starting out, so register today.

Posted on January 11, 2019

RSAC Editorial Team

by RSAC Editorial Team

Editorial, RSA Conference

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