By Charles Blauner
Operating Partner & CISO in Residence, Team8
I am proud to announce that I have joined Team8 as a Partner and CISO in residence. I believe this latest adventure in my career is the natural culmination of my journey to date.
I started my career as an Assembler-loving coder, developing custom versions of mainframe operating systems for U.S. telephone companies. In the 1980’s, telephone companies were among the favorite target of a brand-new breed of criminals – hackers. They attacked the telephone companies to get free dial tone before they went on to hack other companies. After all, what hacker wanted to pay for the large phone bill their activities generated? I was asked to join the team that was tasked with securing the companies’ systems. Thus began my career in information security.
My journey continued as I transitioned into financial services, where over the last 25 years I’ve been privileged to lead security programs at three of the most prestigious global banks: JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, and most recently Citi.
Throughout my time leading IS programs, I never was able to fully shake my technical roots. I was always a believer in the early adoption of cutting-edge technology. As a defender, I knew that my adversary had all the advantages. Relying only on well-tested products was a safe management decision but it did not help me compete with those adversaries. I knew there were risks to using these unproven solutions, but taking such risks was necessary if I was going to do everything possible to defend the companies and their clients I was entrusted to protect.
In January 2014, I was invited to Israel to speak at the first CyberTech event and it is on that trip that I first met Nadav Zafrir and the newly formed Team8. From the start I was taken by the vision for Team8 and the first companies they were building. I kept in close contact, always interested in the next innovation. When Team8 formed its customer advisory board, Nadav asked me to join and chair the board, so in a sense I’ve really been part of the Team8 Village for several years.
When I left Citi in 2019, it would have been easiest for me to just jump into another CISO role, but the truth is I had nothing left to learn as a CISO. I took some time to contemplate my next role and I spent a lot of time thinking about what I enjoyed. What were the characteristics of my previous roles that I enjoyed? And equally important, what did I not enjoy? Around then, one of my mentors asked me, “Do you want to be an operator or do you want to be a coach?”
Having been an operator without a break for 25 years, I decided on coaching. In thinking about what my next role would be, I knew that the most important thing about any new company was that I had to like and respect the people. I also knew that I liked helping to develop new companies. Lastly, there had to be a common vision or philosophy.
After much consideration, I decided to join Team8.
Some may ask me why. It comes down to these three critical factors. First, I’ve known Nadav and the team for a number of years, and I like and respect them (checked one box). I thought that Team8 was building a great set of companies and that I could provide real value in helping accelerate the development of those companies (checked box two). Most importantly, I loved the Team8 concept of a village.
I truly believe that it takes a village to be successful in any worthwhile endeavor in life. I’ve considered myself a village elder within the CISO community, mentoring the next generation of CISOs for a number of years and I could not think of anything more rewarding than becoming a village elder for Team8 (checked the final box).
My journey is far from over, and I am thrilled to be starting the next part of that journey as member of the Team8 Village where as the CISO in Residence I’ll bring the buyer’s perspective and insights to Team8 and all of the Team8 portfolio companies.