Matt King knows that there is a huge difference between being a leader and being a manager. And as vice president of global IT security and chief information security officer (CISO) at Belcan, King has learned how to be a true leader and resource for his team.
King didn’t go to college planning to enter the IT security field. The Northern Kentucky University alum originally wanted to pursue a career in aerospace engineering. “But in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I wanted to earn some extra money and a relative offered me a position in IT,” King recalls. “It inspired me so much that I decided to change my focus to computer science.”
King started his career as an intern at Anthem Inc. and over the next decade he improved his knowledge of the field of IT and security at Anthem, eventually taking a role in IT Security leadership.
Belcan—a global company known for the top-level IT, consulting, and engineering services that it provides to customers working in automotive, defense, aerospace, and industrial sectors—recruited King to serve as director of global IT security in January 2017. “When I started, I had one person on my staff,” King says with a laugh. Promoted to VP and CISO in 2018, King oversees the IT and cybersecurity operations for the entire company—and has seen his staff grow to a total of ten people.
“I rely heavily on the expertise of each of my team members,” King says. “Each person should be able to share their ideas and opinions, no matter their title, so that they can contribute to the greater good of what we’re trying to achieve. Everyone has an equal voice!”
Essentially, King explains, he and his team try to achieve the highest possible level of security for all of Belcan’s data while working around the numerous, complex regulations surrounding data security, data protection, and privacy. “You have to be extremely fast and nimble to do that, especially when you’re working on a global level,” King notes.
Matt King’s passion for cybersecurity education and training extends far beyond his team at Belcan. Through a new program called Belcan Cyber Academy, King and his leader, Terry Williams, has partnered with local high schools to offer students four increasingly advanced courses on topics such as programming, cryptography, systems security, and ethical hacking.
“We are helping to educate students and get them ready for the next step in their education, whether that’s getting a certification in cybersecurity or finding an internship in the field,” King explains. “I’m curious to see how programs like this can affect the overall gap in cybersecurity.”
As team leader, King is on a constant lookout for new methods, tools, technologies, and educational opportunities that will help his team members save time and effort. And in his experience, education and the right tool sets are often the most effective—and cost-effective—means of ensuring that your team knows how to provide efficient protection to the organization.
“AI and automation tools, such as LastLine, that reduce the overall workload to allow your team to focus on the right things at the right time,” he explains, “in conjunction with training, are crucial to being able to retain a lean team.”
“It’s always been very important to me to get my people training and education to ensure they can get the job done,” King says. “Cybersecurity is one of those areas where everything is constantly evolving, so you have to remain vigilant and learn about what to do next if you want to stay ahead.”
Education also serves as an excellent reward mechanism, King says. “If someone works really hard to accomplish their goals, I’ll gladly give them additional training or help them get additional certifications—even if that means that they will eventually leave the company and do something different after getting that certification,” the CISO says. “I don’t want to deter anyone from taking the right opportunity for them. Although I prefer them to stay, sometimes I can’t offer that opportunity, and I enjoy growing people.”
But providing tools and training to help your team get things done isn’t the only thing a leader needs to worry about, King points out. A true leader also thinks about how things get done and whether they are truly enabling their staff to follow through on those expectations.
“It’s the idea of situational leadership,” King says. “Early on, I realized that I was setting unrealistic expectations for people and applying a leadership style that didn’t really match the guidance that they needed. That’s really taught me to provide the appropriate leadership to match the situation at hand.
“Let’s say you assign somebody to research a topic, and they’re a mathematician,” King continues. “You just say, ‘Hey, can you read through these materials?’ But even if they’re a fantastic mathematician, they might have no idea what your expectations are for the research, what the end result should be, or what they should be looking for.”
When your team is struggling, King knows that it’s up to you to change things for the better.
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