Who is the next generation?
An industry is only as good as its people. We're fortunate in this industry to have fantastic, intelligent people around us, but what is our pipeline of new minds? If you ask Hord Tipton, the executive director of (ISC)2, an information security professionals organization, there is a problem on the horizon.
I caught up with Hord and Ray O'Hara (2011 ASIS International president) earlier this week to talk about the joint ASIS/(ISC)2 efforts and the fact that (ISC)2 is collocating its annual security congress with this year's ASIS show in Orlando (see my article on this great upcoming show....and book your flights now!).
On the subject of the pipeline of new employees, Hord said that the IT security industry is being challenged with drawing enough talented and skilled persons to keep up with job demands.
"The problem has been that our youth are moving away from science and math areas [in college], and in our field, that is kind of a basic requirement. They seem to be moving more toward the liberal arts disciplines."
Fortunately, he said, some of those students are realizing that the jobs are in science and math fields. "What we are experiencing across the world is that more and more people are converting [back to sciences after college] because the jobs in those [liberal arts] areas are really hurting. We have the fortunate situation of having a zero percent unemployment rate in information security."
But with strong growth in that sector, the pipeline might not be able to keep up. Ray O'Hara said that he is seeing a similar change in the physical security industry. His organization now has a young professionals program (Tweet with them -- they are @ASIS_YP), and is working to draw talent directly from colleges and graduate schools, rather than from the ranks of retiring law enforcement pros. "We have a strong emphasis on the young professionals and the women in security," said Ray. "We're trying to attract that first career person, and we're trying to showcase some things that can attract them into this industry."
For your summer reading list
"The Unthinkable" by Amanda Ripley
I first heard of this book based on the recommendation of two of the Security Executive Council's key persons: Executive Director Bob Hayes and emeritus faculty member and former Starbucks CSO Francis D'Addario. Now I have to pass the recommendation on to you. The book is "The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes -- And Why", and it's written by Amanda Ripley, one of Time Magazine's chief correspondents, and the one who tackled such heavyweight stories for the magazine as Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center attacks.
I had a chance to meet Amanda a week ago at the NCS4 conference where she was delivering a luncheon keynote, and I bought a copy of her book and have since made it my nightly reading ritual. Simply put, it is should be required reading material for anyone in the security industry. "The Unthinkable" has two things going for it: 1) It's incredibly well written, taking thick-as-soup material on the human brain, psychological group think and building escape plans, and she magically distills it into a very approachable subject. 2) It's smart, smart, smart. The research Amanda did is indefatigable -- from the earliest disaster studies, to how some island cultures respond to tsunamis and even to how chimps act when they're about to be attacked. And, yes, it's all relevant. OK, enough about the book. Put it on your reading list, and if you liked it, tap me on the shoulder at ASIS and tell me so. For those of you that spend more time behind the wheel of your car than have time to grab a comfy chair, I will say that it has already been released in an unabridged audiobook format. Enjoy!
(Francis and Bob also recommended the book "Illicit: How smugglers, traffickers, and copycats are hijacking the global economy." With luck, I'll get you a review of that one next; it was written by Moises Naim, the editor of Foreign Policy magazine.)