Heather Gantt-Evans was recently appointed the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at SailPoint. Previously, she was Senior Director of Security Operations and Cyber Resilience at the Home Depot, where she was responsible for leading security engineering, application security, vulnerability management, network security and the security operations center.
Gantt-Evans has worked with many companies during her security career, including consulting with Ernst and Young to help the organization shape cybersecurity programs around industry best practices.
She is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army Reserves as an all-source threat intelligence analyst. She supported Air Force Cyber Command as a contractor for three years, focusing on cyber threat intelligence and integration of threat intelligence into security operations. Throughout her career, she has served in various cyber analyst roles and applied this experience to consult with multiple Fortune 100 companies on the design and operationalization of fusion centers and cyber exercise programs.
The benefits of any “fusion” or DevSecOps approach to security is empathy, Gantt-Evans believes. “When you bring several disciplines together in a fusion center, fusion cell, or a DevSecOps operating model, you open a door wide open to peer into the day-to-day procedures, thought processes and pain points of the other disciplines’ worlds. This naturally creates empathy for one another, which leads to enhanced collaboration, development of efficiencies and innovation.”
She has approached this in the past by asking her teams to work together to build a charter on how to implement a Cyber Fusion Cell (CFC) model that can bridge security engineers with security operations center analysts (to include threat intelligence and blue teams). “I asked them to discuss things like: What would the primary benefits of the CFC be? How would we measure these benefits? What types of roles would be needed and how many of each role? What would the rotational model look like for members of the CFC to be switched out? How many CFCs do we need and when can we commit to staffing our first one? The key benefit of this approach is that all teams were part of the ideation phase and could build consensus and commitment on the design and approach,” she says.
Gantt-Evans is passionate about furthering diversity in the tech industry. Frequently, she volunteers as a speaker to inspire women at events such as the Grace Hopper Celebration or local WiCys (Women in Cyber) hackathons. One initiative she is most proud of is not directly related to cybersecurity – it was a book club initiative to read and discuss “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.
“For this initiative, I worked with the cybersecurity communications team to invite the entire cybersecurity organization. Participation was voluntary, yet we had amazing turn out week after week. Each week we covered a chapter and I worked with a volunteer facilitator to prep them and get the discussion deck ready,” Gantt-Evans says. “Having so many volunteers and vocal participants really gave the book club a grass roots and authentic approach. More importantly, as a result of the book club, a diverse group of people became more comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work and sharing their perspectives, experiences and ideas.”