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Notes from our Founder

Derek Harp, Founder of (CS)2AI, and The CyberList.com

November, 2019

(CS)²AI Founder Derek Harp reflects on experiences that strengthen our resolve and focus on our mission.

It is easy for our daily workloads, our meetings, emails and phone calls to become routine.  We start to focus on tasks and neglect to view the big picture or to even look around.  We don’t "smell the roses," and make sure to include re-energizing activities in our life.  Don't get me wrong - as an entrepreneur, creating and developing organizations is what I love doing, so much so that it might be less a career choice and more a calling, but we all periodically need to get some distance from the tactical aspects of what we're doing.

For me, the SecurityWeek ICS Cyber Security Conference in Atlanta last month was just the thing I needed. I dropped out of nearly all of my regular routines to stay present, in the moment, at the conference. In addition to the privilege of being able to speak in two general sessions and attending some great workshops, CS2AI Co-Founder Bengt Gregory-Brown and I staffed a CS2AI booth at the event.   That was the first time CS2AI has done that.  As a non-profit organization we didn't have the glamourous tchotchkes that all the vendors did (though we did have a book from one of our partners to give out - thanks Waterfall!) but a steady stream of people still came up to talk with us at all times every day.  Some were already familiar with CS2AI, some already members looking to find out more about what the global organization does beyond their local chapters, and some were companies who wanted to get involved as a partner.  Others didn't know much about us yet and were eager to learn more, plainly stating that this is just what they needed to help them and their teams and asking how to get chapters started in their home areas.

I talked to a lot of ICS security professionals, telling the story of how CS2AI came to be what it is today and sharing the vision of where we see this “members working for members” organization going in the future.  Sharing things I find exciting never fails to rev me up, and this was no exception.  On top of that, though, I did a lot of listening.  People told me about their situations, their work environments, the ICS security challenges they were dealing with, and their sense that, prior to meeting us at the conference, they were alone, the only ones dealing with these problems.  Every conversation just reaffirmed to me how critically important our mission of uniting peers in the industry was and continues to be.  One aspect of being an entrepreneur is that I always have routine work to get done, and that can compete with allocating time to passion projects like CS2AI.  Among all of the things I took away from my week at the conference, the interaction with colleagues who see the importance of this work as clearly as I do may be the most meaningful.  As we are about to start the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States next week, I am thankful for all the volunteers locally and globally that make CS2AI what it is today.