US management consultancy turns to US military chief to strengthen security


Management consultancy stalwarts, Partners in Performance (PIP) have brought in a former US army director of cyber and electronic warfare, Patricia Frost, to galvanise their data security programmes.

PIP were founded in 1998, but have since grown to employ 600 staff spread through offices around the world. The appointment arrives in response to a rising demand for improved attitudes and practices in cyber security.

Managing director at PIP, Skipp Williamson underlined how important the issue is for management consultancies in the modern era.

“Cyber security is just inseparable from operations and execution. Meanwhile, we watch so many companies only narrowly implementing digital strategies and driving them as fast as they can without considering how vulnerable they’re making themselves from a cyber perspective.

“There’s still chief executives saying ‘oh cyber is over there, I don’t need to worry about that,” she said.

Patricia Frost was in Australia recently to help local PIP clients understand more about cyber security, and to help the company begin setting up the Australian arm of its cyber squad. Her role at PIP follows her retirement from the military in the summer of 2018, when she expressed a need to address the “dark underbelly” of the corporate sector.

Frost leverages over 30 years’ experience gained in the cyber operations sector with the US Defence Department, and formerly took care of pivoting the US army’s cyber security operations to create teams of specialists in electronic warfare, threat intelligence, communication and defence, and forensics.

Ms Frost said

“General Alexander [the first commander of the US cyber command] used to talk about it being a soccer team. You had to think offensively about how you could be attacked and then look at defence measures and you need people who can execute both sides. We recognised that as the cyber threat landscape continued to evolve, we’d need an agile workforce.”

Having viewed cyber security as an IT problem, a key moment for the US military came when it realised it needed to become a designated combat strategy. Similarly, the business world needs to stop seeing cyber security as an obstacle to progress.

“You can see that in things like who the chief information security officer reports to. Often they’re still reporting to the chief information officer, rather than the chief executive,” she said.

“But you need to look at it as an operational risk and ensure the value of the business is being protected and secure the critical assets based on their value,” Ms Frost added.

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