We are proud of the successes of our Alumni and their contributions to a diverse range of businesses.
From cookies to cybersecurity.
An industrial engineer now oversees digital strategy at a global financial services firm.
Group Chief Information Security Officer, Prudential plc.
What were your early years like?
I grew up in Monterrey, Mexico. It was an industrial area, with many factories. I studied mechanical engineering at university and my first job was in a cookie factory. I worked on logistics projects like how to fit new cookies into boxes, and then how those boxes got transported and distributed.
So how did you move from cookies to cybersecurity?
After working in Mexico for several years, my wife and I used almost all our savings to study in the United States. I got my master’s degree in industrial engineering at Georgia Tech; she studied English. And when I graduated, I joined Citigroup, as part of a rotating leadership program. I thought I’d focus on operations, but my first rotation was reporting to the director of network engineering and the rest is history. Of course, I had a lot to learn, but I just went back to my engineering background. I thought, all right, there's not much different here from a network link to a pipe. There's nothing different than fluid. It's just an electronic fluid. And my career, fortunately, took off from there.
What drew you to PwC?
Eventually, I knew that my goal was to become a CISO [chief information security officer], and I knew I needed experience with other companies. When PwC called, I was excited about the opportunity to focus on more companies’ problems at a global scale and help fix them.
Why did you leave the firm?
Like I always told my wife, when you ask for certain things, it never happens just the way you planned it, but it ends up playing out. Even though I loved my consulting work with PwC, when Jackson called me about a CISO position, I felt I had to explore it—because it was what I knew I wanted—even though the company was in Lansing, Mich., a place I had never heard of!
What’s the best part of your job now?
Last year, I was promoted to be the Group Chief Information Security Officer for Prudential plc. So, now I have global responsibilities, and that has been incredibly rewarding because it gives me the scope I was looking for. I love the opportunity to connect directly with the board, the chief executive, and the chief operating officer. And before my current role, when I was the CISO at Jackson, I loved growing the team—we went from being a group of 11 in information security to being 75 people. We implemented new processes and new technologies. And now I look forward to helping enable even greater growth in my new position.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’d say I’m a global thinker. But working around the world, I have to differentiate my style and solutions depending on where we’re operating. I can’t put the same controls across everywhere. We have different trends, technologies, and budgets in different environments.
Of all your achievements so far, what are you most proud of?
I feel most proud of helping other people develop their careers. It’s very rewarding to me I see my direct reports go on to bigger positions, and I like helping establish leadership programs like what initially helped me.
What do you look for when you hire and when you mentor others?
I look for people who understand our business, particularly operations, but they’re not necessarily technology experts. At Jackson, we developed many people who had zero technology experience, just like me when I started, and they’ve become major assets for us on the security side.
Any lasting lessons from PwC?
PwC taught me the value of establishing trust and building relationships. That's something I use every day. You can't be a successful CISO without establishing the right relationships within your company. I need to need to work with practically every piece of the company and make sure that I don't become a block but more of an enabler.
What characteristics do you think have made you successful?
I think I'm pretty easygoing. I try to be transparent and collaborative: I like to build partnerships and work with people.
Outside the office, how do you spend your time?
I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and our teenage sons; they’re 15 and 17 years old. I also like to watch sports, eat good food, and travel.
What’s the best career advice you can offer?
Be willing to try new things. Be hungry to do more. Learn how to communicate with people in various parts of an organization. Keep an open mind.