Villanova University — Chief Information Security Officer

Villanova University, a top 50 doctoral research university in the United States, is seeking a collaborative leader who can provide expert technical knowledge and experience in information technology security while also bringing skill and strength at understanding and influencing human behavior to be Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The CISO will provide both strategic and operational leadership to a department charged with addressing the institution’s top identified risk area.  Reporting to the Chief Information Officer (CIO), the ideal candidate will assist the University in accomplishing its goals and objectives by bringing a collaborative, flexible, and solution-oriented approach to leadership.

Now is a good time to be joining Villanova and University Information Technology (UNIT). The University remains financially healthy, Villanova remains an employer of choice, and UNIT is thriving under new leadership. Throughout the COVID pandemic, Villanova and UNIT have continued to make progress investing in IT, refreshing infrastructure, updating tools to be more modern and automated, providing career and professional development opportunities for staff, and increasing the size of the IT Security team.  

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is responsible for establishing and maintaining a University-wide information protection and cyber security management program to ensure that information assets are adequately protected.  This position is responsible for identifying, evaluating, and reporting on information security risks in a manner that meets compliance and regulatory requirements and aligns with and supports the risk posture of the University.  The CISO position requires a visionary leader with sound knowledge of both the business and technical practices of the University.  A key role is to identify and define acceptable and practical IT-related risk by defining and implementing controls and policies.

The CISO is the recognized leader in this function for the University and must be a strong communicator with an ability to work with members of the University community in a collaborative and empathetic manner.  The complexity of this position requires strong leadership and the ability to balance the priorities of security strategies with University strategies and business needs. 

The CISO will join a highly collaborative senior leadership team and have the opportunity to organize and empower a significantly sized IT Security team. The size of the team has doubled in the last year and there remains the possibility to add additional resources. In order to have the most significant impact at the University, the CISO will leverage the knowledge and the capacity of this team as it builds a culture of trust within UNIT and across the academic, administrative, and research enterprises. 

Villanova is seeking candidates who possess a record of professional experience that demonstrates progressive responsibilities and significant senior-level management experience in a complex IT and IT Security environment.  Education and/or experience equivalent to a relevant bachelor’s degree is required (Computer Science, Engineering, or a related major). A Master’s degree in a relevant field is preferred. The CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) or CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) is also preferred. Project management experience and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is preferred as is experience and exposure to risk management practices and IT auditing. 

Candidates must be proven leaders demonstrating a minimum of 7 years information security experience with at least 4 years in a significant leadership/management role managing cross-functional teams in complex organizations, including accountability for strategic planning, consensus building, organizational leadership, and technical performance.  The CISO will ideally possess an in-depth understanding of a university academic environment and the roles and relationships of faculty, staff, students, and third parties. Experience developing and/or supporting information technologies in a multi-platform, distributed environment, with responsibility for security of systems, networks, and identity management technologies is required.    

The successful CISO will need to demonstrate effective leadership of an IT Security team and effective partnership within an IT organization. Critical to this role is experience in striking the balance between providing a safe and secure computing environment with one that facilitates and supports both intra- and inter-institution collaboration. Equally significant qualifications include strong integrity, a high level of energy, and exceptional interpersonal relationship and team-building skills. The successful candidate should be highly collegial, consultative, have a non-hierarchical management style, the ability to develop and sustain collaborative relationships, and demonstrate commitment to cultural diversity and equal opportunity. Maintenance of a high degree of personal credibility and confidentiality is essential in this role due to the nature of the support and incidents with which this individual will be involved. Candidates should demonstrate knowledge of technical and service developments for new capabilities and in-depth knowledge of operational needs and solutions, as well as a high degree of awareness of the evolving threat landscape and IT security awareness of priorities and activities across the University.

The successful candidate will be skilled at communicating with a Board of Trustees and senior level leadership. The CISO will have management and leadership experience in such areas as network monitoring, host scanning, incident response, system integrity, secure protocols, virus control, firewalls and identity management technologies such as authentication and authorization techniques and encryption technologies.

The full position profile can be found here.

Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here.

Villanova University is an equal opportunity employer and educational institution. There shall be no discrimination against any employee, applicant for employment or any student on any basis prohibited by law, including race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status (disabled or Vietnam era), or disability. This non-discrimination policy applies to all educational policies and programs and to all terms and conditions of employment, which include (but are not limited to): recruitment, hiring, training, compensation, benefits, promotions, disciplinary actions and termination.

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