Cybercrime has become a major issue for many consumer products and services organizations around the world. In the United States, security breaches are now a common occurrence for several top retailers, including Target, Home Depot, American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Nike, Walgreens and others. How these organizations will successfully navigate these issues is yet to be seen, but one solution has been to hire new executive talent to lead their cybersecurity and press strategies.
Tim Boerkoel, CTPartners’ Managing Partner and Global Head of the Consumer & Retail Practice says: “We are seeing two trends. First, existing roles are being modified, enhanced and expanded to include repercussions of advanced technology. For example, the CIO/CTO of 20 years ago did not consider the privacy or ethical issues of obtaining consumer data knowingly or unknowingly. Today’s leaders are required to anticipate and hold the moral compass of data collection and usage. Second, companies are seeking leaders who are better able to forecast needs based on emerging technology. As rapidly as technology and platforms change, those innovations offer new roles and skill-sets for organizations to adopt.”

“Consequently, from our research and hearing directly from our clients, we have seen an increased need for Chief Information Security Officers, or even Chief Information Officers with meaningful experience in developing security infrastructure in order to mitigate the substantial financial risks attached to potential security breaches. Best in-class companies such as SC Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Hershey, Harley-Davidson, Limited Brands and Tempur Sealy have either Chief Information Security Officers or high-level IT Security teams (Target announced the hiring of Brad Maiorino, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, in June).”

“However, according to a 2013 KPMG study, only one-third of companies have a formal cyber incident response plan in place. And nearly three-quarters of participants described their company’s cyber maturity level as average or below.”

“In a retail environment that is both digital and global, potential threats can emerge from anywhere forcing consumer products and services companies to acknowledge the undeniable risks to their brands and the bottom-line.”

In contrast to US-based corporations, for some other countries, cybercrime is a lower concern for now.

Jonathan Holmes, Korn Ferry’s Managing Director in the Middle East, says: “Cybersecurity tops the list for many firms. In the UAE, we do not see great focus from the corporate sector, though firms are using cybersecurity consultants to help identify risk and to plug the gaps. Cybersecurity also touches into national security, which is also an area where there is an increased level of focus.”


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