Imagine showing up to work every day knowing that your job requires protecting 160,000 employees creating more than 450 products around the world—tea, ice cream, personal care, laundry and dish soaps—across a customer base of more than two and a half billion people every day. Unilever Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Bobby Ford embraces the challenge, summing up his proactive approach this way: “I believe the responsibility of our group—the cybersecurity risk management group—is to enable the business to take risks.”

In this episode of “The Shiproom” I talk with Bobby about striking that balance between risk versus business needs, along with some of his strategies for protecting Unilever’s global workforce. We also discuss the ongoing challenges of communication and collaboration between the business and security sides of an organization. “I’m not the captain of the ‘no’ police,” Bobby explains. “Recognizing that the organization has to take risks—that’s what it means to be in business.”

On managing those risks, Bobby provides a useful metaphor: “For me, a mature cybersecurity strategy happens at the intersection of business intelligence and threat intelligence.” We discuss what constitutes threat intelligence, and why it’s important to maintain an ongoing conversation between business and security—so that decisions aren’t made in a vacuum.

Bobby also addresses the importance of diversity in the workplace, including “diversity of thought” and why a diverse workforce makes for better security. “The simplest answer is that the adversary is diverse. It’s hard to combat and defend against a diverse opponent when you lack diversity [on your team].”

We also discuss British food, arm wrestling, the Queen, shampoo, quesadillas, wombats, and more. Check out the whole discussion on:

What’s next

In an upcoming Shiproom episode, I’ll talk with Kurt John, CISO at Siemens USA. Kurt is listed in Security Magazine’s top 10 most influential cybersecurity leaders, and he’s a board member of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority tasked with enhancing Virginia’s tech-based economy. Kurt also serves on a special cybersecurity committee organized by the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. Don’t miss it.

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