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CIS Podcast: Cybersecurity Where You Are Ep.15

Cybersecurity Success Takes Soft Skills


In this edition of Cybersecurity Where You Are, CIS Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Sean Atkinson, and CIS Senior VP and Chief Evangelist, Tony Sager discuss soft skills and how they pertain to the the cybersecurity industry. Whether it is an employee wanting to expand their career or an employer seeking a new hire, soft skills are just as important as technical knowledge.

Episode Highlights:

  • Why soft skills are important
  • Top soft skills
    • Public speaking
    • Working with a team
    • Project management
  • Building a company culture




Why Soft Skills are Important

The old stereotype of a cybersecurity expert is that of the "lone wolf" quietly working away at their computer spouting technical jargon. This picture is far from the truth. Cybersecurity is a team effort that not only requires technical expertise but strong communication, teamwork, and creative skills.

In order to grow within the industry you must possess the ability to persuade, inspire, and motivate others to support you and your recommendations.

Soft Skills and Cybersecurity

The good news is soft skills, while may come naturally to some, can be honed through education and practice. Tony and Sean explain three of the top soft skills they have found to be most beneficial within their careers and for the cybersecurity industry:

The power of public speaking

Did you ever hear someone say "I'm not good at public speaking?" Most of the time this comment is due to a lack of comfort rather than skill. Presenting an idea could be in front of a large crowd, a board of directors, or a even a small team working on a task. A strong speaker can take complicated technical references and craft a message that is easily received by their audience.

Teamwork and leadership

Self awareness is key when working with a team. Be confident in what you bring to the table while also being aware of others' strengths. Also, be mindful when communicating to the group and consider how your messages are being received by others.

Project management

Consider how to manage your time and assess what can be done effectively. When it comes to larger groups, possibly working remotely and across different divisions, it is impossible to manage everyone. Creating the plan and communicating the goals effectively to the teams empowers them to make decisions autonomously in support of the overall mission.

Soft Skills and Company Culture

Within cybersecurity employers tend to get overwhelmed with the technical knowledge; legal, networking systems, security controls, but that is not the whole picture. Cybersecurity is not an IT issue, it is a business issue. However not everyone in the company will understand all the technical information being presented to them. Those working in IT can be more successful in their roles if they are able to effectively communicate to all divisions of a company.

As an employer, it is important to consider attributes such as critical thinking, public speaking, and project management in addition to the technical requirements of the job. Well rounded employees will work better together, bring new ideas and energy, and support the overall success and mission of the company. Job seekers may consider cybersecurity if they find their soft skills experience can be transferred to positions within the industry.

Building strong, well rounded employees benefit not only the employees themselves, but the company overall.