Not all leaders have the title of CISO. For this reason, we have changed the title of our Interview with series to Interview with a Specialist. This week we speak to Lydia Phillip, Director of Policy Governance and Resilience at Thomson Reuters.

Having made the transition from contractor to Director of Policy Governance and Resilience for Thomson Reuters, Lydia is a performance-driven, entrepreneurial, and hands-on leader with over 20 years’ experience of IS Audits & Control Assessments, Regulatory Compliance, Operational & Enterprise Risk Management, Third Party Risk and GRC.

Q. What are the most important attributes to be a successful leader in security?

Leadership in security is no different from leadership in any other field.

Vision: Vision is where leadership begins; without it, you don’t know where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t build a strategy no matter how good you think you are.

You need to inspire people to join you and rally in the same direction. Without vision, you’ll be leading them on the road to nowhere.

Communication: Communicate, communicate, communicate, and when you think you’ve communicated, communicate some more. Leadership is about clearly setting the team direction and exercising decisiveness. However, communication only works if it is in words that your audience can relate to and understand.

Q. What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Leading a team and seeing the effects of mentoring and coaching coming to fruition. I enjoy seeing professional and personal progression in people.

Q. You made the transition from a Contractor to a Director and Leader within an innovative listed firm with over 25,000 employees. How has your approach and mindset changed?

Being a contractor for so long gave me the full breadth of experience required to make the transition. This is partly due to the global and versatile industries I worked with.

Having said that; Going from contractor to Director was pretty much like doing Yoga when all you’ve done is lift weights- you discover muscles you didn’t know you had.

As a contractor, the mission is to deliver on your hiring manager’s vision; it’s what you signed up for. As a director, there is a total shift to setting the vision, articulating it, and relentlessly driving it to completion.

Q. What changes have you seen in our industry over the last decade?

The changes in the last decade have been radical and have been spearheaded by rapid technological advancements. However, with the fantastic advancements we have made in technology, misinformation and other dangers need to be managed accordingly.

Q. What do we need to improve?

Security must be embedded into the DNA of an organisation.

Periodic online staff training only goes so far. Companies have to start as they mean to go on, keep it simple, use established industry guidelines.

How we select and hire security staff must be improved.

Technology moves so fast that by the time someone completes a four- year degree, everything has changed. We don’t need everyone to have an IT degree. Consider applicants from the arts and the creative industry. There are many transferable skills valuable to our industry.

Q. What has been your most unusual interview experience?  

I once interviewed for a position while I was literally boarding a plane. It was a very last minute interview and was the only available time for the interviewer.

Q. Who has inspired you?

  1. Anyone who embodies the phrase “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
  2. Kelly Gallagher (Paralympic alpine skier)
  3. My mother. She personified resilience
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