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Champions in Security – Honoree Profile: Ramy Houssaini, 2023 Champion for Community

Ramy Houssaini is the current Chief Cyber & Technology Risk Officer & Group Privacy Officer at BNP Paribas and former CISO & Vice President of BT Security Europe. He is a regular startup and venture capital advisor with more than 2 decades of experience in the technology industry. 

Ramy was a recipient at the inaugural 2023 Champion in Security Awards hosted by Portal26. The Champion in Security Awards honor security leaders embodying meaningful values within the security community that make the profession better for current and future practitioners. Ramy won the Champion in Security Award for Community, which honors the security leaders who contribute meaningful effort towards bringing practitioners together.

What does it mean to you to win this award?

I am honored to be a winner of the Portal26 inaugural Champions in Security Awards. I am earnestly grateful for this recognition, especially for a category that is close to my heart, as the esprit de corps is what makes our community as security professionals such a unique one.

Who in your career helped demonstrate this attribute that influenced your professional behavior?

I was lucky to have great mentors that understood very early the multidimensional nature of Cybersecurity and guided me to leverage the collective intelligence and capabilities of the community to ensure effectiveness and impact. I would like to thank them today for their astute insights.

What advice would you give to professionals who want to work in this field?

I have worked in cybersecurity for more than two decades, and my favorite part of this is the tight-knit community and cross-functional collaboration, even between competitive companies. The relationships and camaraderie really make the work fulfilling and create friendships for years to come. Building a successful career in this field is all about building bridges, learning from others, and creating and nurturing trust. If this is appealing to you, then you will find this immensely rewarding.

In what ways have you brought practitioners together, and how would you suggest going about it?

I had the privilege of creating several communities, such as the healthcare security alliance, back in 2007 and actively exploring synergies between them in order to amplify the impact achieved. In addition to this, I pride myself on acting as a super-connector that is always willing to roll up my sleeves to identify and build a coalition of problem solvers to deal effectively with the constantly stimulating cybersecurity challenges that we are facing. From experience, cybersecurity practitioners are always willing to help each other as long as the right guardrails of transparency, integrity and confidentiality are preserved. Fundamentally, it is all about building relationships and creating mutually rewarding incentives that promote collaboration.

What communities have changed your life throughout your profession?

The success of industry ISACs is indicative of a greater acceptance of the security community of the collaborative model. These forums have been incredibly important in enabling a fluid exchange of risk intelligence among organizations. The relationships built are incredibly important to build the trust needed to extend sharing of information and coordinate responses to systemic events. In addition to this, informal communities have also been impactful in promoting dynamic benchmarking of practices and accelerating learning.