In the background of global enterprises, the heartbeat of multinational corporations synchronizes with cutting-edge technology and risk management. This synergy finds its champion in Irma Caleti—an accomplished Chief Information Security Officer with a stellar track record spanning over two decades. Her journey began within the corridors of ExxonMobil, where she meticulously blended IT and business processes on an international scale.
With General Electric, she donned the mantle of Chief Technology Officer, steering the ship of IT infrastructure and communications across Latin America. A stint as IT Audit Director at Scotiabank solidified her expertise, designing and executing intricate IT audit plans while pioneering automation initiatives.
More recently, in her role as CISO for American Express Latin America, Irma orchestrated a robust information security strategy, becoming a trusted advisor to board-level stakeholders. Her realm encompasses crafting enterprise-wide security visions, executing large-scale transformative initiatives and offering profound insights to senior executives, ensuring prudent decision-making.
Now, at Japan Tobacco International (JTI), she partners with the Executive Committee as D&IT Markets and Region Americas Corporate Director, shaping IT strategy, aligning technologies and standardizing global practices. In the tapestry of corporate cybersecurity, Irma stands as an example of expertise and innovation.
Let’s discover the transformative force behind global cybersecurity embracing a future fortified by her expertise!
From Bits to Brilliance
In the realm of modern business, the imperative of heightened cybersecurity awareness reverberates loudly. Within the corridors of Japan Tobacco International (JTI), these sentiments echo profoundly. “Our core values guide us, urging each team member to champion operational excellence,” Irma emphasizes.
In her role, she orchestrates the implementation of crucial cybersecurity practices, pivotal for the seamless flow of business operations and the sanctity of data. Irma’s wisdom resonates, “Adequate risk assessments shield our Information, Software and Hardware—a linchpin in our cybersecurity strategy.” She adds, “It’s the bedrock of our cybersecurity efforts.”
JTI doesn’t just talk the talk—they walk the walk. “We’re all about turning ideas into action,” Irma explains. “We calculate risks proactively, making sure we stay one step ahead in this ever-evolving landscape.”
For Irma and her colleagues at JTI, it’s clear that in today’s digital age, cybersecurity isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a fundamental necessity to keep businesses secure and thriving.
Beyond the Firewall
“Years ago, during a challenging IT audit, Irma confronted a significant network compromise,” the incident unfolds. “The immediate closure of the security gap was crucial, but I knew the issue ran deeper across multiple business locations. Focusing solely on one unit wouldn’t elevate our overall security.”
For Irma, cybersecurity victories are about understanding the broader landscape. “In this field, it’s more than a single triumph—it’s about stepping back, comprehending every layer of the situation,” she explains. Despite resistance, Irma made a crucial decision: “Reassigning the audit finding to IT, affecting our Key Performance Indicators, was tough, but it was necessary.”
Irma’s experience highlights a vital lesson. Cybersecurity isn’t just about isolated fixes—it’s about a comprehensive, organization-wide approach. “We were all striving for a secure network environment,” she shares. In this digital age, Irma’s perspective serves as a reminder that in the realm of cybersecurity, the big picture is paramount, ensuring not just victories but lasting security for every layer of the business.
Securing Souls, Not Just Servers
“Security isn’t just a corporate concern—it’s a way of life,” Irma affirms, emphasizing that personal security is as vital as securing a company. “We must value security in every aspect, fostering a community of intelligent, preventive controls rather than reactive ones.”
Irma underlines the collective responsibility, “Each of us contributes to the solution. Understanding this enhances our security significantly.” Being vigilant is key, she advises, “From phishing scams to email security, we need to be alert, updating contacts and enabling higher security measures. It’s a constant effort.”
For Irma, this vigilance is rooted in empathy, “Caring for information is caring for others,” she states. This ethos transforms security from a mere task into a shared commitment, reminding all that in this digital age, safeguarding our personal spaces is not just about protecting ourselves, but actively nurturing a safer, more secure environment for everyone.
“Cybersecurity implementation demands resilience and determination, but the human factor remains the greatest challenge,” Irma reflects, drawing from her experience leading a critical Technology project during a merger of two large corporations. The merger required stringent controls across technology levels, encountering intense resistance due to varying organizational control levels.
In the face of adversity, Irma took decisive action. “Stopping to assess the situation and seeking expert help was crucial,” she emphasizes. Recognizing the urgency, she redefined the strategy with an expert, conducted a project audit to identify gaps and enlisted a business expert to refine procedures.
Her story teaches valuable lessons. “Pausing to evaluate and asking for help can make all the difference,” Irma states. The outcome was remarkable—the project went live on time, under budget, and, most importantly, with the necessary security measures intact.
Irma’s experience underlines the significance of adaptability, expertise and collaboration in overcoming challenges, offering a valuable roadmap for anyone navigating the intricate landscape of cybersecurity implementations.
Quality Over Quantity
“It’s not about the quantity of time, but the quality,” Irma emphasizes, echoing a timeless truth. In the IT world, irregular hours, late nights and weekends are the norm. To navigate this, having a supportive person to confide in is invaluable. “Having someone who listens and understands life’s challenges is essential,” Irma advises.
Having a personal passion, whether it’s sports, yoga, or cooking, provides a much-needed outlet. Irma advocates for proactive planning, “Schedule time for yourself, set boundaries. Plan specific moments, like long lunches or leaving early twice a week. Make these moments non-negotiable.”
Irma is resolute about vacations. “They’re non-negotiable,” she asserts. Even in the demanding IT landscape, taking breaks is vital. “Treat vacations as essential,” Irma insists. Whether it’s a serene beach or exploring a new city, taking time off is as crucial as any work commitment.
In Irma’s perspective, balancing work and personal life is a necessity. It’s about recognizing the importance of self-care, relationships and community engagement, ensuring a fulfilling life amidst the demands of the IT world.
Teamwork and Collective Effort
“I strongly believe in creating a world worth living in,” Irma asserts, emphasizing the non-negotiable importance of personal data privacy and business continuity. In her view, every collaborator holds the power to enhance cybersecurity systems. To achieve this, she emphasizes a comprehensive approach within organizations:
“Firstly, we need a corporate cybersecurity strategy,” Irma points out, highlighting the importance of a top-down approach. “Involvement should extend beyond IT to every business leader. Ownership is key to mitigating technology risks.”
Crucially, Irma stresses the significance of end-user education: “Continuous training for all users is essential. Without understanding the importance of security in our day-to-day lives, the strategies we implement will have limited impact. It’s about empowering individuals to protect information in both their professional and personal spheres.”
Cybersecurity is a collective effort involving strategy, collaboration and education. By integrating these elements, organizations can create a secure environment where privacy and continuity are valued and upheld by every member.
Understanding data protection and privacy requires adherence to essential rules, as emphasized by Irma. “First and foremost, we must grasp the existing regulations,” she states firmly, underlining the necessity of aligning ethical considerations with legal expectations.
Irma’s second rule emphasizes precision in data collection: “Collect only what’s necessary.” She cautions against overzealous data accumulation, stressing the importance of practicality. “Avoid unnecessary costs and protect data by only gathering what you need.”
Lastly, Irma emphasizes the importance of transparency, “Data owners must know how, where and if their data will be used or shared.” She advocates for individuals’ rights to knowledge and decision-making.
Irma expresses surprise at people’s flexibility when faced with rewards for their personal information. Her insights illuminate a critical aspect of data ethics—balancing the allure of rewards with the imperative of protecting personal privacy, a challenge that requires vigilance and respect for individual rights.
“Staying up-to-date in cybersecurity is essential,” Irma asserts, offering valuable insights on how to navigate the ever-changing landscape:
- Dedicated Monitoring: “Specialized areas dedicated to monitoring internal threats are crucial,” Irma emphasizes. Having a team focused on in-house systems keeps a vigilant eye on potential risks.
- External Investigations: Irma recommends staying connected with external expertise. “Enroll in updates from companies conducting special cybersecurity investigations,” she advises. These insights from experts in the field offer valuable perspectives.
- Reading Magazines and Publications: “Magazines and publications are goldmines of trends and threats,” Irma notes. Regularly reading industry publications keeps professionals informed about the latest developments in the cybersecurity realm.
- Vendor Bulletins and Seminars: “Vendor bulletins and seminars are invaluable resources,” Irma states. Keeping an eye on updates from vendors and attending seminars provides firsthand knowledge of new tools and techniques.
- Formal Training: Lastly, Irma emphasizes formal training. “Continuous learning through formal training programs is key,” she stresses. Investing in structured educational programs ensures a deep understanding of evolving cybersecurity practices.
Irma’s advice forms a comprehensive strategy for professionals to stay current, combining internal vigilance, external insights, industry publications, vendor updates, seminars, and formal education. By embracing these resources, individuals can navigate the dynamic cybersecurity landscape effectively.
“Continuous learning is integral to any successful journey, especially in cybersecurity,” Irma emphasizes, highlighting the essential connection between technology and evolving threats. From her mentoring perspective, she advocates active participation in cybersecurity forums with officers and experts. “Engaging in discussions, be it within JTI or broader industry platforms, enhances not just my understanding but also equips me to tackle emerging threats effectively,” she states.
Irma highlights the power of collective knowledge as the ultimate defense against escalating threats faced by companies. By actively participating in these forums, professionals can bolster their expertise, contributing to a stronger, more resilient cybersecurity landscape.
The Ripple Effect
“I aspire to guide new generations into the wonderful world of risk management and cybersecurity,” Irma states passionately. For her, understanding threats and minimizing risks through cybersecurity is not just a job but a lifelong dedication. She adds, “Collaborating with people to enhance productivity and ensure continuity can lead to happier users.”
Irma’s vision resonates with the essence of mentorship and teamwork. By sharing her expertise and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, she contributes not only to the professional growth of others but also to the overall satisfaction and security of the users. Her dedication showcases the transformative impact of mentorship, reminding readers of the positive ripple effects that knowledge-sharing and collaboration can bring to the world of cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity doesn’t discriminate based on gender,” Irma asserts, emphasizing that the field doesn’t target women or men differently. Yet, she acknowledges the gender disparity in cybersecurity expertise, with studies showing that there are “only 2 women for every 10 men in the field.” To Irma, the world of security is captivating, instilling confidence and providing stability. She believes in sharing this message with other women in IT, encouraging their interest in the field.
Irma appreciates companies like JTI, recognized as great workplaces for women, for narrowing the cybersecurity employment gap. She stresses the importance of addressing salary and opportunity disparities for women, making the field more accessible. Irma highlights the effectiveness of communication and webinars in engaging IT women. “Through webinars on information security and cyber threats,” she notes, “we can successfully bring more women into the world of cybersecurity, making our digital spaces safer and more inclusive for everyone.”
In Irma’s eyes, cybersecurity is a pathway to empowerment and an essential effort that everyone, regardless of gender, should actively participate in.
The Perfect Answer
“Cybersecurity, nestled in the realms of Digital and Information Technology, offers a thrilling challenge,” Irma asserts, highlighting the unique opportunities for women in the field. She emphasizes the importance of analytical skills and the diverse learning experiences that come with cybersecurity. “It’s about making technology work seamlessly for businesses, transforming organizations practically and effectively,” she explains.
Irma passionately advocates for the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in cybersecurity, “AI could revolutionize threat detection, making it faster and more precise.” Her insight emphasizes the evolving landscape of technology and its potential for safeguarding digital spaces.
To the younger generation aspiring to make a difference, Irma offers a clear path, “For those aiming to leave a mark, cybersecurity is the perfect answer.” Her words resonate with the excitement and challenges of this dynamic field, inviting individuals to explore the fascinating intersection of technology, business and security.
“Cybersecurity needs a voice, just like women do,” Irma asserts, drawing a powerful parallel. As a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), her mission aligns with creating a safer digital world. “I aim to convince IT professionals, especially women, to dedicate themselves to this vital cause,” she emphasizes.
Despite its intimidating aura, cybersecurity is instrumental in providing solutions that mitigate risks and ensure secure technology and data. Irma’s words echo a call for inclusivity and engagement, encouraging individuals, regardless of gender to embrace the challenge and contribute to a safer and more secure digital landscape.
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