Q&A: Bobby Ford

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Bobby Ford boasts an impressive and diverse background, having spent the bulk of his career in the aerospace and defense industry. As a soldier in the US Army, he was one of the charter information security analysts for the Pentagon Computer Incident Response Team (Pen-CIRT). Bobby received his Bachelor of Arts degree from George Mason University and a certificate in executive leadership from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds several cyber-industry certifications. By Michael Hill

How would you describe your infosec career journey thus far?

I have been gifted with tremendous opportunities, been part of some remarkable teams and worked in cyber for some of the world’s most purposeful organizations. It all started with me being an enlisted teenage soldier in the US Army and that led me to become the global CISO for Unilever. I have been very fortunate.

Whats the best thing about being a security leader?

Being a leader in security allows you to have an impact on the business both internally and externally. Internally, you get to defend the organization against cyber-attacks. Externally, you get to protect the data that customers, consumers and partners choose to share with you.

Whats the greatest challenge impacting the infosec industry today?

Being able to align strategic imperatives to business-critical initiatives is essential for the infosec industry. For far too long, the security industry has attempted to secure everything at the same level with the same controls. We have to be able to prioritize on what is most important to the business, and this has to be done with a risk-based approach. Often we focus on threats and vulnerabilities, which only make up one half of the risk equation. We must also be able to articulate impact.

Who do you most admire in the industry?

Historically I have tried to avoid questions like this because I will inevitably omit someone deserving! However, I will say: Jerry Geisler at Walmart, Emily Heath at DocuSign and Ben Brophy at Reckitt Benckiser – they are all friends and colleagues I admire and trust. Chris Young, the former CEO for McAfee, is someone I have the utmost respect for and whose career I still follow closely.

Quick-fire Q&A

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Growing up I never really had a strong desire to be anything…I just wanted to matter and have an impact.

Whats your favorite song?

Optimistic by Sounds of Blackness

Whats your guilty pleasure?

Vegan Magnums while watching Netflix!

Bio: Bobby Ford is the global CISO for Unilever. Prior to joining Unilever, Bobby was the CISO for Abbott Labs, a global life sciences organization in Greater Chicagoland, Illinois.

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