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Who should be the CSO?

Should the head of a security function be a lawyer – or even an accountant?

That was among the questions posed to Professional Security by the organiser of a select gathering in London. He was Phelim Rowe, and it was the third ‘cyber physical security convergence forum’, sub-titled convergence ‘as the key to effective business operations’.

As ever, besides what the high-calibre speakers said, as useful to those attending was the conversation – in accents besides English – around the round tables. Speaking to Professional Security before proceedings, Phelim said that ‘corporate security modernisation’ could be another title for the event. The day was looking at where logical and physical security should come together, or if it is going to; and who the chief post holder, the CSO (chief security officer) should be – if anyone.

Blurred lines

What Phelim went on to say was echoed by at least one attender, who chatted about how lines between cyber-security and physical security are blurred – at a high level; further down, staff are more in touch. Phelim raised department funding; maybe more is being invested on the digital side, and it may be physical security needs to harness that. It reminded Professional Security of talk at the recent Infosecurity Europe show by CISOs – chief information security officers wondering aloud how they fitted into a business, but significantly with little said or heard from them about CSOs.

To that Phelim said that the CISO role may want to take on board physical security; the head of corporate security does not want the information role. The CISO role can maybe be automated; should it be an administrative role, a lawyer (useful to help you through a data breach, when you have to comply with the regulator, and know what to communicate to customers and staff, and when?) or an accountant (someone who can read a spreadsheet and keep an eye on the budgets, such as; why are you spending so much on close protection?!). It depends on the business.

Among the speakers, the CSOs included Matthew Drew (Rolls Royce) and John Meakin (pharma firm GSK); and Ville Patrikainen, group security officer, P&O Ferries; David Herd, group security manager, Unilever; and Ewan Duncan, group head of security, Associated British Ports, who as a speaker at the Security and Counter Terror Expo at London Olympia in the spring was featured in the June 2019 print issue of Professional Security magazine), and the CISO Bobby Ford (Unilever). The consultant Mike O’Neill of Optimal Risk was the day’s chair.

As a sign of how security is also about use of data, besides electronic and physical security products, the day’s gold sponsor was Dataminr.

A similar event with US speakers is running in Phoenix, on August 22. Visit


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