Community-Sourced Insights: The Future of Professional and Leadership Development

Parham Eftekhari
February 1, 2024

In a market that has been dominated by analyst-driven and sponsor-influenced content, community-sourced insights have emerged as some of the most trusted resources for cybersecurity leaders seeking to validate strategies, develop their workforce, and glean industry knowledge. Ask a cyber professional if they value CISO-developed or analyst-developed content and you’ll consistently hear the same refrain: while high-quality analyst insights provide value, practitioner-developed resources are more actionable and practical to improve decision making.

This new reality begs the question – why have so many organizations struggled to evolve their content development methodologies to meet changing consumer preferences?  At the risk of generalizing a complex problem, the answer to me is simple: community building is hard.

I’ve been passionate about community for as long as I can remember. I joined the student council in 6th grade (shout out to the Wisconsin Association of Student Councils!) and haven’t looked back. In 2014 I founded the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT) – a Washington, D.C.-based think tank convening public and private sector technology leaders – where I quickly learned that objective, community-sourced ideas were among the most valued and impactful data sets among policymakers and our nation’s top leaders.

Today, I am privileged to lead the Communities division at CyberRisk Alliance, home to one of the nation’s largest communities of CISOs and cybersecurity leaders who trust us with professional and leadership development for themselves and their teams. When asked to pinpoint the factors that have contributed to our success, I immediately think of the authenticity and passion of our team, our relentless focus on operational excellence, and the fundamental belief that CISO-sourced insights can help accelerate career advancement for current and future cybersecurity leaders.

We’ve been building trust through a community-first ethos, and we now operate in an environment where the community – not CRA – sets the priorities:

  • CISOs and their teams collaborate in CRA-led working groups to share insights, best practices, and tangible artifacts with one another
  • That CISO participation is then converted into tools, templates, and other community-developed resources that are shared back with the membership
  • We will be launching new benefits to our premium membership like community benchmarking studies and team training based on the community’s priorities

Community building also requires a value system that celebrates our differences and recognizes that varied perspectives and backgrounds within a community contribute to a richer pool of knowledge and innovative solutions. Research has shown that diversity of thought and experience improves decision-making and strengthens outcomes, which is why we feel it is so important to cultivate future leaders with our newest programs.

As someone who has experienced many acts of overt and passive discrimination, our team’s sincere commitment to inclusion and kindness is one of the things I am most proud to be a part of.

As CyberRisk Alliance charts its course for the next 5 years, community building and community-sourced intelligence will be a cornerstone of its strategy. With a database of more than 2.4 million individuals, with more than 4.6 million annual visitors to our many sites, and 465,000 subscribers, CRA is poised to transform learning by prioritizing community-developed knowledge and insights across all its platforms, underpinned by the belief that some of the most important innovation and insights in cybersecurity come from within the community itself.

With the National Cybersecurity Strategy calling on a whole-nation approach to ensuring our security and prosperity, the role of community to our collective success has never been more important.

To our thousands of members and technology partners: Thank You. Together we are making a difference.

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