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How do you rise in the security ranks? Don't speak geek; use the language of business.

Imagine this: You're lost in a foreign country. When you ask for help, everyone answers in their native tongue. You're frustrated and anxious because you can't get the information you need. You're hoping someone will come along who speaks English to lead you in the right direction.

This is how a CEO or CFO feels when your way of addressing a business problem is to spit out tech-speak. "Many CEOs and CFOs are threatened by technology and are not comfortable with technical terms," explains Richard M. Entrup, CIO for Byram Healthcare Centers, a company that specializes in delivering medical supplies to home patients. "If you're sitting in an executive staff or board meeting, you can't be a techie. You're also not going to gain the necessary support and cooperation, or make your case, unless the value proposition impacts the business."

These days, your security know-how is a given. What it really takes to move up the corporate ladder is the ability to translate security technology into business need--whether that means adequately defining risk or helping pass an audit.

These are the key findings from Information Security's exclusive research into what it takes to land (and succeed at) a security manager's job. We surveyed nearly 100 C-suite executives and upper-level corporate managers to get a sense of what they want out of their organization's

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top security pros.

Bottom line: Working effectively with the powers that be is tantamount to nearly every other skill. More than 85 percent of C-level executives believes a security officer's ability to get upper management to buy into key security projects and earn their respect is extremely or very important to his or her career success.

This was first published in July 2006

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