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CISM Connects the Dots in My Professional Development

Published by Mike McNelis on December 9, 2021

At the beginning of my career, I was partly lucky, but later also quite selective in deciding to work for organizations and bosses that embraced empowerment and supported individual development and growth of their people, as I myself have always been a strong advocate of servant leadership and continuous education. Especially over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to work on exciting topics with smart, dedicated professionals, while along the way, I also kept further developing my skills and knowledge.

For me, studying for the CISM exam was the latest part of that process. Before I kicked it off with CISM, I already had a couple of academic and professional credentials, and solid recognition in the security industry, but despite my experience in the security field, I wanted to refresh and extend my theoretical background, especially in the information and cyber security areas. And because the CISM’s Body of Knowledge (BoK) is an industry-recognized gold standard, the choice was clear. But if you ask about the certification itself, for me it is a cherry on top of the cake, as the learning journey is what mattered the most.

Given my more than 20 years of experience in security management and previous career steps, the CISM helped to round up my educational portfolio, connecting the security-related dots nicely together. I can now better support my organization and communities I am involved in, as well as offer my knowledge and experience to educational institutions running security risk management or business resilience programs. Over the years, I have learned that I really enjoy leading a team and mentoring. So, in the future, I’d like to continue doing meaningful, inspiring leadership work in a dynamic, international environment, while exploring opportunities for sharing my knowledge and experience with young professionals and students.

This year showed many organizations how important it is to be prepared for unforeseen business challenges and that risk management and business continuity planning is not just a formal box to check, but that it is very real. As the CISM BoK states in several chapters: “It is no longer enough to communicate to the world of stakeholders why we (the organization) exist and what constitutes success, we must also communicate how we are going to protect our existence.” And yes, the fact that the company I work for is being referenced in connection with that statement makes me feel proud.

I live in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic, but my professional scope is very international. While I have been running the pandemic response and business continuity for all 29 countries I oversee, the CISM study helped me in two ways. Especially in the first stages of the pandemic, I could benefit from the frameworks described in Risk and Incident Management, which helped in assuring me that our company’s approach was right – that we didn’t overlook anything given the very dynamic and fluid developments. And when the first tide went out, being exhausted by the topic and all related operational inquiries, CISM helped balance thoughts in my head and gain some needed distance from the everyday coronavirus business. On a personal note, so far, I have been lucky that neither I, nor anybody from my family, has been ill, and I sincerely hope it will also stay that way.

Given the amount of work on my plate, I don’t have much time for leisure activities, but anytime there is a chance, I love getting out for a hike in the mountains with my son. I also like running, Alpine skiing, cooking Czech specialties based on recipes from my dad and lately also playing board games with the family. Getting regular exercise and challenging my intellectual abilities have proven to be the best therapy for dealing with this unprecedented crisis to stay physically and mentally healthy.

Used with permission from ISACA.
Author: Radek Havlis, MA, MBA, PMP, CISM, CPP, CsyP, FSyI., Regional Security Director with PwC for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia

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Mike McNelis
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