Secret CSO: Rohit Parchuri, Yext

What is the worst current trend in cybersecurity? “In my opinion, the worst is the vendors trying to do everything without a sole focus on a specific domain.”

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What's the best career advice you ever received? “Don't treat your team as a family but rather as professionals in their line of work” – I still recall the words when I originally heard this and still rings true to this day. In essence, treating your team as a family will only make you and the team non-productive and leads to burnout since you will end up asking unreasonable favours and letting them do the same to you. Don't take this the wrong way, I don’t mean to say you need to keep the relationship strictly formal or keep conversations work related only, but to keep a reasonable separation between work and life.

What advice would you give to aspiring security leaders? If there is one piece of advice that I could give, it would be to align your team/program objectives with business goals and not the other way around. This allows you to showcase you and your team in a positive light when sharing successes, because at the end of day, no matter what kind of effort you put in, ultimately if there is no business value shown (in other words, you are not enabling business improvements or sustaining the business practices) you would only be seen as a blocker. This is an unfortunate reality in our industry today.

What has been your greatest career achievement? I consider something to be an achievement only if I was able to change the trajectory of the company and people around me in a positive way. I was fortunate enough to have done this a few times in my career as a security leader. I have been able to build really strong cybersecurity foundations, both process and capability wise, by having the right people in the right place to act as both advisors and action takers.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I don't think I’d want to change anything regarding the pathways I’ve taken to be where I am at right now, but if there is one thing I could have done better, that would have been to take constructive criticism in a positive light.

What is your favourite quote? “Destiny is not a fixed destination–it is what you create” - Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. I love this quote because it emphasises the importance of action in everything that we do.

What are you reading now? Amp It Up:Leading for Hypergrowth by Raising Expectations, Increasing Urgency, and Elevating Intensity by Frank Slootman.

In my spare time, I like to… I am an extremely outdoorsy person, and would take the opportunity any day to play tennis, hike, bike, or simply wander around in the wilderness.

Most people don't know that I… was a professional cricket player (not anymore) back in India, and still love the game to this day. I am also an ardent practitioner of yoga and meditation and never plan to let go of this practice.

Ask me to do anything but… sit idle.

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