Chief Security Officer, Navisite Inc.
Previous role: Vice president, managed services at Navisite
Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, University of California at Irvine, and multiple networking and security certifications
As a long-time information security professional, Allen Allison breaks the mold of just focusing on locking down everything and telling people what they can’t do. He looks at security as a way to grow a business.
“One of the things that I try to emphasize with the people I work with is that information security should be an enabler. It can provide you with new opportunities to pursue new business and new customers,” said the newly promoted chief security officer at Navisite Inc. of Andover. Navisite (NASDAQ:NAVI, news, filings) provides enterprises with services such as hosting, managed applications, managed messaging and cloud services.
In Navisite’s case, tight security not only can instill confidence in the company’s clients, it can relieve those clients’ internal IT groups from having to hire the expertise to stay at the top of the information security game.
Allison found himself drawn to security early in his career when he managed IT for a small company that handled processes for credit unions. Those were the pre-web years, not long after computer security incidents drew national attention. Then, at the University of California at Irvine, he managed a project to digitize hard copy documents. “I started off in programming, but decided I didn’t enjoy it as a fulltime gig. So I went to get my CNE (Certified Novell Engineer), which brought me more into the infrastructure side,” he said. That led him to real estate firm Coldwell Banker, where he built out a security infrastructure, and he has focused on security since then.
“I’m very binary. Everything is either black or white with me, and security is one of those areas where everything is either black or white. There’s no grey area, no blurring with security,” he said.
In his new role, Allison will take over internal responsibilities such as regulatory compliance, but his is also very much a customer facing role. “Most of our customers like to focus on what they do best,” he said, noting that if Navisite can provide them with systems that are confidential and reliable, they can worry less about having internal info security.
Allison said of his management style, “I’m not a micromanager. I take an approach where I provide guidance, but at the end of the day if you are accomplishing your goals, I let you do it your own way.”
He also emphasizes a strong work ethic passed along from his father. “I used to work for my father in Big Bear, California. He owned a construction company. So every summer from when I was eight years old I was part of a paving crew. I shoveled asphalt, raked asphalt, did everything from digging ditches to delivering entire driveways.”