Christopher Kuhl, CISO/Cybersecurity, Dayton Children's Hospital
Tell us about your career path.
I entered the field of computers in a nontraditional way. After trying my hand in graphic arts installation, I took the recommendation of a friend to look into computers. I grabbed the Yellow Pages and started making calls. I landed a low paying internship with a small family business in Omaha, Nebraska. I started out building and re-building computers and broken laptops. I really enjoyed the challenges, and things just clicked. I moved from that first company to new opportunities in Nebraska and beyond. I continued to challenge myself with new certifications and technology, as well as earning my Master’s in Information Assurance. Each of those steps, accompanied a new technical position from DBA to Engineer to Architect to CISO.
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
The best advice I ever received was to always “focus on the why.” The project or assignment is always changing but staying focused on “why” it matters keeps the true goal in perspective. It is the “why” that inspires and attracts others to make the organization better. When you get a group of people together that all believe in the “why,” you go from being a group of individuals working together to becoming a team that is dedicated, motivated and can be innovative to overcome any obstacle.
What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill?
The two skills that are the most difficult to find are critical thinking and communication. Team members with the ability to look at a problem in front of them, understand the potential impact and perform root cause analysis will save the organization from unnecessary downtime and cost. The problem could be technical, such as a server or application unexpectedly going down, a skills gap analysis of your team/department, or employee satisfaction for an organization. The skills required for critical thinking are crucial to the employee, team and organizational success. I believe they should be included in either higher education curriculums or as mandatory employee education offerings at the organization.
Good communication skills are just as difficult to find. Communication isn’t just being able to talk to your teammates, but also being able to translate technical needs for business or financial understanding. Now that Sr. leadership and Boards are taking an interest in cybersecurity with how we can help not only protect data, but also protect financial vitality of the organization or patient safety in healthcare, we are being asked to present at those levels more and more. Through good communication skills, we can demonstrate risks to the organization and how they will impact reputation, finance, patient safety, or compliance. We can also demonstrate the need for funding to support our claims, through return on investment of training classes, new technology, or additional staffing.