Features

Tarunjeet Mann – Lockton 

A world of cybersecurity responsibility in his hands 

The stakes were high when Tarunjeet “TJ” Mann oversaw online security at Children’s Mercy Kansas City from 2017 to 2022. The stakes might even be higher since he took on a similar role across town at Lockton. 

Tarunjeet Mann | Global CISO | Lockton 

Tarunjeet Mann | Global CISO | Lockton

Lockton is the world’s largest independent insurance brokerage, active in over 125 countries. There’s more for hackers to target than just a young patient’s or family’s personal information. Valuable as that might be on the dark web, there’s more to garner from one of Lockton’s big-ticket industrial clients with a cyber-insurance policy worth millions of dollars. Trade secrets, intellectual properties, client data, financial spreads—these details and many more must be safeguarded. 

Mann’s the man to do so, and he’s well into the second year of a three-year strategy, the One Lockton initiative, that brings the company’s international units under a cybersecurity master plan while allowing regional bosses to customize their approach. The global chief information security officer role didn’t exist before Mann’s hiring in May 2022. When Toggle caught up with him this past January, he was making progress on overdue projects. 

“We’re focused on ensuring we have bolstered our security at each layer,” Mann says. “That requires a level of understanding and buy-in on a massive scale, across a wide range of jurisdictions and cultures, and Lockton is committed to undertaking.” 

Acting globally 

That also requires regional CISOs, and among his early projects, he has been recruiting one each for the Americas, EMEA (Europe-Middle East-Africa) and Asia-Pacific. Last May, Mann tabbed David Collins for the Americas position, impressed with how he had directed information security and enterprise architecture for nearly four years at the iconic trucking company Yellow in nearby Overland Park, Kansas, and before then, at H&R Block in Kansas City. 

“Like me, he is willing to navigate the gray,” Mann says. “Security is a function of governance—the more you standardize, the better you can manage.  But with our independent regions, there’s not much standardization, and you’ve got to be open to different tactics. David was like that at Yellow.” 

Under Collier’s command is Joey Lamb, who worked with Mann as a senior data protection engineer at Children’s Mercy Kansas City before taking a similar role at Colliers Securities and, last June, to Lockton. Mann having done much to shore up cybersecurity in the Americas, he turns his attention to Lockton’s other strongholds and, in January, was on the verge of extending an offer to a candidate for the EMEA position. Later this year, he expects to name an Asia-Pac CISO. 

Then there’s Mann’s intent to move Lockton to a zero-trust paradigm that requires all Lockton personnel to be authenticated, authorized and continuously validated for applications and data use. As he emphasizes, phishing remains the primary portal for hacking, and there’s a virtual arms race between cybersecurity’s so-called white and black hats. 

While Mann has Microsoft tools in place, he’s enlisted a dream team of other vendors—Palo Alto Networks, Cisco, Solutions Technology Group, Abnormal Security and Check Point Software—to augment existing firewalls. There will also be continued online mentoring for everyone with access to a computer. As Mann says, there is a world war on the cybersecurity front, and he’s earned his stripes in previous roles, including the preceding one at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, where he assembled the defense from the ground up. 

“By the time I left, we had a great, high-performing team on cruise control,” Mann says. “But that was a regional role, and I was striving for a new challenge. Global security was my goal, and I thought it would take time to get there.” 

Right at home 

Mann thought he’d find that global world somewhere other than in Kansas City, and the idea of moving suited the adventurous Mann and his wife. However, as fate would have it, a friend on the Lockton cybersecurity team connected Mann to a member of the company brass who casually mentioned the need for a global CISO. The position had yet to be advertised, and when Lockton offered Mann a lesser role, he stressed his qualifications for the global one. Fifteen interviews later, after Mann presented his international cybersecurity strategy, the job was his. 

But it’s not just Mann’s cybersecurity credentials that’ll factor in how he fares. This role interacting with executives worldwide and there being much to delegate, Mann says he’s had to change his leadership style. The Lockton hashtag is “uncommonly independent,” and Mann says he maintains high cybersecurity standards while not barking out worldwide orders from Kansas City. 

“I’ve got to lead by example and be influential,” he says. “You’ve got to win their trust and have them seek your advice. Being a dictator doesn’t work at a matrix organization like Lockton where you need everyone’s confidence and trust.” 

It also means more late-night meetings and adjusting to different time zones. Sensitive as the Children’s Mercy Kansas City position was, Mann says that at least most of the time, he could fulfill his duties during regular working hours. Now, however, the whole world’s in play. 

Wired young 

But it’s all part of Mann realizing his ambition of being a global CISO, a role he seemingly was preparing for even before he knew it. He laughs while describing how, as a boy growing up in India, he might have tried to tap into an ATM after seeing a boy successfully doing so in “The Terminator.” 

Fortunately, Mann resisted any temptation to join the black hats, instead earning a degree in infotech from Guru Nanak Dev University in India and a master’s in computer science at Wright State University in Ohio after moving to the United States with his parents. 

He honed his skills at LexisNexis for four years before stints at Bank of America, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Children’s Mercy Kansas City and finally Lockton, which has been his most far-reaching position—and one that might call for a particular intangible. 

“There are two types of people: Those who want to do what they know and crazy people like me who want to do what makes them uncomfortable so they can push their limits,” Mann says. “I, and the people I hire, like going into the unknown grey area and figuring out a solution. It’s an opportunity to leave a legacy behind instead of an already blazed trail.”  

View this feature in the Winter I 2024 Edition here.

   

     

Published on: February 19, 2024

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