Jon G Shende’s journey into the world of technology began after high school when he joined an oil and gas company. It was there that he became deeply captivated by the remote control of massive pumps through a SCADA system screen. His fascination with technology has endured for over two decades and counting.
This passion for technology drove Jon G Shende to pursue studies in Software Engineering from the University of Oxford. Additionally, he earned a Master of Science in IT Security, Digital Forensics, and Computer Crime Law from Holloway, University of London. Jon G Shende also completed his Master of Business Administration, Post Graduate Certificate in Business Management with a focus on Finance and Marketing from Heriot-Watt University.
Throughout his career, Jon G Shende held various positions across startups, Fortune 200 companies, and Big 4 firms in the UK, USA, Sweden, and Asia. He honed his technology skills in network operations, software development, virtualization, cloud transformation, security, and SaaS products, including SaaS IAM. Jon G Shende’s expertise extends to frameworks such as NIST CSF, and ISO 27001/2/5, and a deep understanding of regulations like GDPR, CCPA, NY Cybersecurity, HIPAA, and FFIEC. He has helped numerous organizations reduce risks related to technology and avoid regulatory audit fines and has worked on Ransomware recovery and analytics improvement.
Over his two-decade career in business and technology, Jon G Shende has held various significant roles, including Managing Director, Americas Head, Global CIO and CISO, Co-Founder, and Advisory Board Member. Notably, he pioneered the concept of Cloud Forensics as a Service almost 13 years ago, and his model has been freely shared and cited by researchers and universities worldwide, as well as recognized by a US Institute for Science and Technology.
Presently, Jon G Shende is a board adviser to Mitigant.io, MyVayda.com leveraging his expertise in cybersecurity, compliance, ML, AWS, and Azure Cloud. His remarkable journey in the world of technology is a testament to his dedication and expertise in the field, and we hope it serves as an inspiration to many.
Describe your career progression from the start to where you are and what were pivotal decisions, moves you made, circumstances, and other facts that facilitated your growth.
After Highschool I had an opportunity to work a job in the Oil and Gas business and got exposed to Novell Networking and SCADA systems amongst other areas. I was amazed that one could touch a screen and control a pump of valve miles away and was immediately hooked on technology.
This led to a stint working on early networks and services and learning about acquisitions after a services enterprise I was part of, was acquired by a multi-billion-dollar company. After this acquisition, I took on a contract job supporting AT&T systems, gaining further exposure to how a Network Operations Center ran, and was fortunate to be part of an early team testing remote support applications.
After a few years in this role, I was given an opportunity to work on software development and early virtualization boutique consulting firm, which eventually led to becoming their first CISO and Head of IT/Virtualization and early Cloud services. Another acquisition and a move to a Big 4 Firm saw me leading cloud transformation and security, contributing to breach assessments, and working with Fortune 200 companies on several projects. As luck would have it, and with my combination of IT Systems (HRIS, IAM, ERP, CRM), NOC, SOC, cloud, and security experiences, I was offered a leadership role at a client of the Big 4 firm. This new employer was a cloud product and services company with global data centers, security, and cloud solutions. Within a few months, my leader had me meeting with the CEO and then suggested I join him at the Board meeting, where I was asked to talk briefly about security technologies. What I learned from that first F200 board meeting was, that it’s not about describing technology as much as how we present what technology can do to improve the business functions and ROI.
I learned then and from subsequent board sessions, under the mentorship of my then leader and our CEO how board meetings ran, how to present at board meetings, and working with our Finance Audit and Legal how to leverage my Big 4 experience to implement systems, solutions, and action plans to meet global regulations and audit requirements, ensuring business needs, were in alignment.
Over the last 13 years, I have had the opportunity to build security and cloud security, SaaS products, as well as contribute to digital transformation for programs well over $3 billion in revenues. Working with product companies gave me a depth of exposure as I worked in partnership with global strategy, sales, development, and engineering teams, as well as, delivery services, either leading full transformations or providing expertise in building security into the SDLC and taking aspects of agile development to enable a shift left process for security.
These roles have seen me serving in the capacities of Managing Director, Americas Head, Global CIO and CISO, and today an Advisory Board Member.
Being an early adopter and innovator, I created Cloud Forensics as a Service almost 13 years ago and shared it freely, as it spoke to security cloud trails in cloud environments, instance snapshots, and scaling storage for evidence stores based on assessments and validations. I was also fortunate to lead several large IAM transformations leveraging companies such as Okta, CyberArk, and SailPoint across banking and financial services, which augmented my legacy IAM experiences with newer SaaS IAM technologies and the advantages they brought.
What are the key skills and qualifications that aspiring tech executives in the tech industry should focus on developing to enhance their career prospects?
Aspiring tech executives in the evolving IT Technology landscape should find a mentor. I’ve been fortunate during my journey to have some fantastic role models, leaders, and technology mentors, a majority of whom reported to me at times. Today I gained an understanding of Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning, and Cybersecurity. However ensure you prioritize a blend of technical, strategic, and leadership skills. A strong foundation in these domains is essential, but equally vital are communication, adaptability, and problem-solving skills. Whilst a mix of qualifications, including advanced degrees or relevant certifications in IT management, data science, cybersecurity, or business administration is good, having real-world practical experience is key to solidifying one’s expertise. Continuous learning is critical, as staying updated with emerging technologies and industry trends is vital to remaining competitive.
What are some key milestones or achievements that tech executives should aim for at various stages of their careers to demonstrate their growth and readiness for higher-level roles?
Tech executives should aim for a progression that aligns with their experience and expertise. Early in their careers, excelling in technical roles and projects can demonstrate proficiency. As they advance, leading cross-functional teams in significant projects or contributing to successful digital transformations can showcase strategic prowess. Moving into higher-level roles such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) signifies readiness for organizational leadership, for me, the most important skill is learning to listen more before acting as we grow into leadership. Significant milestones can be achievements like cost optimization, understanding and acting on the costs of risk management, setting a tone of empathy, kindness, and collaboration within tech teams that may be orchestrating seamless cloud migrations, implementing effective cybersecurity measures, or spearheading AI-driven innovations.
How important is it for tech executives to actively seek out mentorship or coaching opportunities to advance their careers? What benefits can they derive from such relationships?
Actively seeking mentorship or coaching is invaluable for career growth. Learning from experienced mentors provides insights into navigating complex challenges and understanding organizational dynamics. Mentors can advise on career strategies, skill development, and expanding networks. Such relationships foster personal growth, guide decision-making, and offer a broader perspective on the industry. Mentorship can accelerate career progression by leaps and bounds.
In your experience, what role does professional networking play in the career progression of tech executives? How can tech executives effectively build and leverage their networks?
Professional networking is a cornerstone of tech executives’ career progression. Building relationships with peers, industry leaders, and professionals from diverse backgrounds cultivates opportunities for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and potential partnerships. Platforms like industry conferences, workshops, and online communities can facilitate meaningful connections. Effective networking can lead to new roles, teamwork, and insights into emerging trends.
Are there any specific certifications, advanced degrees, or executive education programs that can significantly enhance the career prospects of tech executives in the tech industry? Which ones would you recommend?
In my experience, technology leans heavily on practical experience. Whilst having a degree lends to an individual committing to pursue and succeed at a course of study, aside from the more recent years, I have seen recent graduates joining tech firms where they had to be taught the job. Somewhat akin to the olden days of apprenticeships.
After a few years of work experience, I pursued a Masters in IT Security, Digital Forensics, and Computer Crime Law. In the classes, what was patently obvious was the difference between those of us with work experience and students moving from undergrad directly to grad studies.
I would suggest, studying technology, business, and risk management in a combination on undergrad, grad, and continuing education. Certifications have their place but pick those that are practically applicable and those that will lend to job success, rather than the Certifications that have heavy marketing but are weak of real practical depth. E.g. For Risk Managers, CISM from ISACA, CISA for auditors, and CCIE for network professionals
Can you share any examples of notable tech executives who have successfully transitioned from one role (e.g., CIO) to another (e.g., CEO) within the same organization or industry? What factors contributed to their success?
CIO to CEO leaders, often possess a well-rounded skill set encompassing, empathy, humility, technical acumen, strategic vision, and leadership abilities. Their deep understanding of technology and its impact on business uniquely positions them to drive innovation and transformation, built on strong communication, an ability to align technology with business goals, and a track record of motivating and inspiring teams to achieve results.
Stephen Gillett who was CIO of Starbucks and is now CEO of Chronicle, Ralph de la Vega served as the CIO of AT&T before becoming the CEO of AT&T Mobility, a subsidiary of AT&T, in 2007. He later became the Vice Chairman of AT&T Inc.
John Chen was the CIO and COO of Sybase, a database software company, before becoming the company’s CEO in 1998. Later, he became the CEO of BlackBerry.
Satya Nadella is one of the most prominent examples. He started at Microsoft as an engineer and worked his way up to become the company’s CIO. In 2014, he was named CEO of Microsoft
How important is it for tech executives to cultivate a personal brand and establish thought leadership within the industry? What are some effective ways for tech executives to showcase their expertise and gain visibility?
Cultivating a personal brand and establishing thought leadership are paramount for tech executives. Sharing insights through blogs, articles, public speaking, and contributing to industry discussions showcases expertise. Engaging on social media and participating in webinars or podcasts can enhance visibility. I was approached in 2013 to contribute to a book based on a now colleague who was writing her PhD thesis, reading an article I published. Subsequently, I was offered a leadership role at a Fortune 200, on recommendation from someone who was familiar with my work—thus building a reputation for innovation and strategic thinking can open new opportunities.
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring tech executives who are looking to accelerate their career progression and make a lasting impact in the tech industry?
My advice is to maintain a curious mindset for those aspiring to accelerate their careers and make a lasting impact. Embrace change and proactively seek opportunities to learn about emerging technologies. Build a diverse skill set combining business understanding, risk management, technical expertise, strategic thinking, and empathy most importantly, leading by example and not by given orders. Cultivating relationships with mentors, peers, and industry groups not only expands perspectives and networks, but one can learn from others how to avoid critical operational mistakes. I am part of several CISO groups and we all share and learn from each other.
Also, by continuously investing in self-improvement, I use a positive psychology coach who has helped me immensely in savoring and being able to be still and assess all information before making critical decisions.
Finally, stay adaptable as the tech landscape evolves rapidly—being agile in your approach will set you apart as a successful tech executive. Becoming a tech executive is a marathon, not a sprint, influencers come and go, and what matters most is how you deliver and what impact you make positively on your teams and employers.
Stay committed, curious, and connected to the ever-changing world of technology, generative AI will be replaced by another flavor of the day, what is critical is how you manage your technology operations, efficiently, fiscally sound, and collaboratively with your teams as technology will always change.
Read more CXO Ladder articles:
Carlos Diaz-Calvi: A Career Journey Marked by Self-Discovery and Testing One’s True Potential
Debbie Houser: Force Multiplying Aptitude with Continuous Learning for Career Growth