CLIMBERS (also known as employees) at A-LIGN take many different paths throughout their journey – that’s why we sat down with Adam Lubbert, Associate Director of ISO Services, to discuss how he began his career in cybersecurity, what he enjoys most about his role and much more—read below for all the details.
- How he made the jump from criminal justice to cybersecurity
- How his team has grown from four auditors to more than twenty in only four years
- What advice he would give to anyone trying to enter the cybersecurity industry
Where are you from, and how did you begin your career in cybersecurity?
I was born and raised in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. After high school, I was unsure what to do for a career. My dad is a retired police officer, so I thought that was a good place to start. I went to school for law enforcement and earned my Bachelor of Science in Sociology with an emphasis on criminal law, but quickly realized I enjoyed working in the private sector much more. I enjoy helping a company achieve goals and being a meaningful part of driving change within an organization. I worked as part of the security risk and compliance group at several of the large corporations in Minneapolis. I quickly learned that I wasn’t able to drive change the way I wanted to in the larger companies. In 2015, I was part of a major corporate layoff and found myself looking for the next opportunity. This brought me to a new consulting job implementing ISO programs for clients. A-LIGN happened to be the audit firm that would most often come in and audit our programs, so I was able to meet a lot of A-LIGN’s team. About four years ago, I decided I wanted to transition to the auditing side of things, and I’ve been with A-LIGN ever since!
Tell me about your role as the Associate Director of ISO Services at A-LIGN.
This role is unique because I get to work directly with our clients, from the sales process all the way to a finished project. I oversee the delivery of all ISO projects and manage the team that delivers them. Any time an issue or question arises, our team provides an answer or finds a solution quickly. I also really enjoy mentoring and future career planning with people. I don’t spend a lot of time managing individual projects anymore, so this really gives me time to get to know everyone on a personal level.
What is the best part about working at A-LIGN?
I’ve said it a couple of times, but it’s the people. We’ve built a really strong team that works extremely well together. When I first started four years ago, it was myself and three other auditors. Now we have more than twenty auditors in three countries, which is a significant growth trajectory. We’ve started to see the fruit from these collaboration efforts coming forth in the past couple of years, and even with the pandemic, we didn’t miss a beat when it came to providing services to our clients. We care about the projects, we care about our clients, and we care about each other. When we are faced with adverse situations, there is no question that other team members will jump in and help because it’s the right thing to do. We really focus on the team mentality, versus everybody in their own silo doing their own work, and I think this mindset works really well.
Why do you think cybersecurity is important?
Protecting any kind of informational asset is important. There are a lot of threats and vulnerabilities that we’re looking at in today’s systems, programs, and companies, and they’re significantly different than they were last year or even two years ago. So, it’s working with people that are passionate about security and compliance and wanting to do what’s right for the data that they’re collecting from their customers, vendors, etc. I like holding those people accountable for data security. So, I think the most critical component is protecting those assets that you’ve been entrusted by someone to protect.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Watching clients grow from year to year. Many of our clients have never put this type of security program together. They may have completed a different kind of security or compliance audit where you get a list of evidence items and you must supply artifacts to satisfy those items, but ISO is different. It’s creating a sustainable, repeatable program that you as an organization have to adopt. There are some clients here at A-LIGN that I began working with at my last company six years ago, so being able to see the growth they’ve had since the beginning of their program is really exciting and rewarding. Witnessing this growth motivates me to continue doing what I do, and I love seeing the impact our work has on our clients and auditors directly.
Our auditors learn something new from every audit too, just like our clients. They know the same controls, but they see a different application of those controls at every audit, so it helps build our knowledge, which in turn, allows us to provide a better service for our clients as we continue to mature.
What is a work-related accomplishment you’re proud of?
The sheer growth we’ve had in our team throughout the last four years. We’ve grown our ISO business by more than eight times since I started at A-LIGN four years ago. I’m also proud of the transformation of our clients, and our CLIMBERS. I enjoy helping my team grow and learning where they want to go in their career and then helping drive them to get there. I tell my team all the time, “I’m not going to tell you where you have to go. I don’t know what you want to do, but if you tell me what you want to do, I will do my best to guide you in that direction.”
Which of our values (Be All In, Commit to Quality, Do the Right Thing Always, Innovate Constantly) do you identify with most and why?
Innovate constantly. We work at an extremely fast pace and oftentimes are faced with situations we’ve never experienced before, and we have to make some very quick decisions. You should always be thinking about what’s next and trying to figure out what you can do to make A-LIGN stand out. Why do our clients keep coming back? Because we provide value through innovation. We don’t just take a checklist approach to an assessment. We focus on each client individually and figure out how to best tailor the assessment to their individual needs. So, innovate constantly is something I think is very important for this role.
What is the best advice you could give someone trying to enter the industry?
Ask questions. When I first entered the industry, I was too nervous to ask any questions. I was afraid people would think I was too junior and that I didn’t know what I was talking about because some of our work can be complex.
I tell our clients and auditing staff the same thing. The work we do is not supposed to be an exercise in struggling. Nobody knows everything, and the sooner you recognize and understand that, the sooner you can really provide the best service to yourself and to everyone you’re working with.
What is your motto/personal mantra?
‘Perseverance’ is the word that comes to mind. Everyone is faced with some sort of adversity in their life. When something happens, I try to find the best path to push through it rather than give up!
What do you do for fun outside of work?
I am a dad to three daughters. I have a five-year-old who is starting kindergarten this year, and two-and-a-half-year-old twins, so I spend most of my free time with my family. I love being a dad and I love the fact that I’m able to be a great dad, and a great leader at the same time.
When I’m not spending time with the kids, I also enjoy cooking and gardening. I do most of the cooking in my house and feel like cooking is an outlet for me to be creative.