Mythbusters: RSAC Edition Part 1

Mythbusters1The only thing people like more than a myth is separating fact from fiction. We all know some of the more famous myths: the explosive combination of soda and Pop Rocks candy will kill you, alligators roam the sewers of New York City and Walt Disney had himself cryogenically frozen.

That said, you don’t have to be Jamie Hynemen or Adam Savage to bust the myths surrounding RSA Conference’s Call for Speakers program. Let’s separate fact from fiction with these common misconceptions:

Myth: RSAC is a “Boys Club”

Far from it. RSA Conference has been honored to have industry experts like Wendy Nather, Julia Allen and Patricia GoForth present sessions while luminaries like Condoleeza Rice, Padmasree Warrior, Mrs Jing de Jong-Chen and Jane McGonigal have graced our keynote stages around the world.

Another interesting note that some may not be aware of – the leadership of RSA Conference is primarily women.  Sandra Toms-LaPedis is the group Vice President, Linda Gray heads up operations globally, Michelle Adams-Dixon leads efforts on marketing and public relations, and I’m taking on global content now globally.

Myth: RSAC is “Pay to Play” – you won’t speak if you aren’t exhibiting/sponsoring

Although there are a number of opportunities for marketing at RSA Conference (exhibiting packages, sponsorships, etc.), our presentations are not up for bid.

How do we pick our speakers if they aren’t selected based on a credit check? The Program Chair first reviews all the submissions and maps each one to potential tracks.  The volunteer Program Committee, comprised of more than 40 security professionals, government employees, attorneys, scientists, technology experts and researchers, reviews the submissions. The Committee has assigned 2-3 members per track, and each one is tasked with creating a track with compelling, interesting, fresh and actionable content.  They look for innovative formats, complete submissions (the long form “session detail” is EXTREMELY important) and unique perspectives.  RSA Conference sessions should not be repeats of other presentations and anything that even smells a little bit like a sales pitch will not make it through the review process.

Myth: RSAC Accepts the Same Speakers Every Year

Nope! Although you may see a lot of familiar friends when you walk the show floor you won’t always see the same speakers cross our stage. Last year a third of our presenters were first time RSAC presenters—that’s more than 200 brand new faces.  While there are definitely some repeat presenters, they don’t have seniority in getting accepted.  RSA Conference is a vendor-neutral event, and this neutrality is extremely important to us.  Well-thought out, complete, unique submissions are rewarded.  Direct experiences, breaking research and “war stories” from practitioners tend to score highly with the Committee, regardless of veteran or newcomer status.

Stay tuned for more mythbusting next week!

Posted on September 10, 2014

Britta Glade

by Britta Glade

RSA Security

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