Benchmark Expands Board Director Practice As Hunt for Cyber Security Leaders Intensifies

January 13, 2016 – Benchmark Executive Search has launched a newly expanded board of directors practice which will now serve Fortune 1000 clients. In coming months, the firm will be adding new recruiting consultants to the practice group.

Founded by Jeremy King eight years ago, Benchmark focuses on helping startups, emerging growth and mid-cap companies recruit leaders with government or private/public sector experience to work in the defense, intelligence and national security markets in areas like information technology, military communications, homeland security, cyberwarfare, cloud, and analytics.

“Cyberattacks are growing in magnitude, complexity, and frequency, and these massive security lapses have left many companies vulnerable,” said Mr. King. To address this risk, Benchmark is planning to leverage its knowledge and network of experts in cyber security, physical security, insider threat, corporate espionage and risk management.

“The boardroom of the future will demand that directors create a company culture of security and organizational structure to support it,” said Mr. King. “This will require new thinking and sophisticated leadership.”

Benchmark, based in Reston, VA, with an additional office in Dallas, identified senior talent (board directors, CXO’s and SVP/GM’s) for companies that are typically VC or PE backed and provide innovative capabilities and services to the federal and commercial markets. The firm is now looking to expand its service offerings to Fortune 1000 companies, and for good reason.

The hunt for seasoned cyber security talent has seen a dramatic increase in the last two to three years, according to executive recruiters specializing in identifying risk-oriented leadership. But they are finding a lack of qualified candidates as companies put a greater emphasis and give a higher priority to corporate security.

One of the problems recruiters have been encountering is a candidate pool that includes professionals with weak career paths to becoming a top cyber security leader. Ideal candidates are generally well-versed in many parts of a business – not just in technology. Candidates possessing this cross-section of corporate experience can be like finding needles in a haystack.

“As cyberattacks and data breaches grow, demand for cyber security professionals will dramatically increase,” said Mr. King. “Cyber threats are an undeniable reality today, and businesses that focus on protecting their assets with the right leaders will quickly gain a competitive advantage.”

Later this month, Hunt Scanlon Media will release its first cyber security ranking of qualified executive search firms dedicated to finding leaders in this burgeoning field. Hunt Scanlon issued a recruitment alert last June about the rise in C-level demand for cyber security talent.

“We’re seeing a massive pick up in demand just as risk and security executives are being elevated to the C-suite,” said Hunt Scanlon CEO Scott A. Scanlon. “This convergence is the result of what is now seen as a highly visible leadership need.”

Mr. Scanlon said that a number of well-known companies are reeling from recent ruptures in their digital security. Among them: JPMorgan Chase, Anthem, eBay, Home Depot, Sony, and Staples.

“Security breaches are now seen as a C-level problem,” said Mr. Scanlon. Bringing cyber security leadership expertise to the highest levels of management and into the boardroom is therefore a strategic imperative for every company, he said.

“Mention security at a board meeting and everyone’s eyes glaze over,” said Mr. Scanlon. “But mention reducing risk and suddenly the conversation flows much more freely and everyone sits at attention.”

Hunt Scanlon’s coming report says that recruiters are searching for collaborative leaders who bring a proven track record of developing strategic IT risk management plans. Most in demand are chief information security officers (CISO), directors of information security, chief technology officers and heads of IT.

But it doesn’t stop there. Infrastructure specialists, monitoring heads, cloud security VPs, heads of risk, cyber investigation leaders, compliance chiefs, heads of privacy and incident response specialists are just some of the sought-after leadership positions recruiters are hunting down for their clients.

“Every industry sector is in need of these top-flight security professionals,” said Mr. Scanlon. “I can’t think of a single exception today in light of the corporate security breaches that have been mounting.”

Hunt Scanlon reports that a number of industry sectors in particular have proven to be most vulnerable to cyber threats, including: banking, hedge funds, healthcare, insurance, entertainment, utilities, retail, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and governmental concerns. Companies within all of these sectors have seen their needs for security, data and risk experts intensify.

High demand and a short talent supply is leading to a ‘bidding war for talent’ throughout the security sector, said Mr. Scanlon.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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