How do you turn executive leadership into champions for IT initiatives?

2.4k views2 Upvotes5 Comments

CISO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
When I was at a biotech company, we were implementing Duo, which had just come out at the time. The CEO hated it. And of course, at a small/medium-sized biotech, the IT person is always helping the CEO with their personal computers, etc. He had an AOL account that got compromised and sent an email out to his entire address book to click on the virus. He told me to fix it and just update his password to make it go away, but he used the same password for nearly everything, and the other passwords he kept in an outlook contact. So I explained that we need two-factor authentication because we have to protect all of our IP. But he says, "No, it's too much of a pain. We have VPN. Nobody's going to get in."

I had to think of a way to show him how important it is. So I asked, "What do you use to do your stock trading?" He said, "E-Trade." So I got to his computer and went to, used his AOL email address with the password that I knew, and got right in. I said, "Oh, you had a ton of money in there. I think I'll just transfer this to my personal bank account." And he's like, "Wait, wait a minute. How did you get in there? How did you know what it was?" I told him, "You made it super easy." Then he had a Gmail account that also got attacked, so then he became this big two-factor proponent and he was telling everybody on the E-Staff that they had to do it. Across the rest of the company, he championed why we need to implement this, and why it's not such a pain in the butt.
5 1 Reply
Assistant Director IT Auditor in Education, 10,001+ employees

This was the only way to get your message through to him, an excellent way.

CEO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
Build a case focused on the improved or increased value that will be delivered to employees customers or trading partners. Data as a service is value to customers that may become a new revenue stream. Security initiatives can be measured in improved trust and brand value. Supply chain optimization can be measured in cost savings but also raise your customer value to your suppliers. The value argument can be applief to almost every IT initiative which either captures, creates or optimizes value to be delivered to a stakeholder.
CISO in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Metrics that show the difference the IT initiative makes, e.g. improved efficiency, productivity, money saved, are useful. Tell stories along the way to keep them on the journey too.
C-PIO in Software, 10,001+ employees
Lead by example! Listen and act. Vision and share that vision.

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