SR 20 Fastest Growing Security Companies

Building Cyber security organizations and developing leaders: Alta Associates


A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” – John C. Maxwell

An entrepreneur who believes in engaging, developing and advancing women and minority leaders, Joyce Brocaglia founded Alta Associates in 1986. Since then she has steered Alta’s growth towards success and has played a key role in establishing the company as the most prominent boutique executive search firm specializing in Cyber Security, IT Risk Management and Privacy. Having set an unparalleled track record for placing key C-level executives and building world class teams in various industries throughout the US, the company serves clientele across many vertical industries.

Known advocates for both their clients and candidates, Alta continuously meets with industry leaders to gain insights on the latest trends and develop alliances that enable them to advance individual careers and build exceptional organizations. The Alta Associates team is very enthusiastic about the future of the Cybersecurity and IT Risk industry and proud to be a part of strengthening its most valuable asset –human capital.

In conversation with the leader
Q. Can you tell us how Alta Associates is positioned to help corporations build cyber security and IT Risk organizations?
Cyber-attacks, government regulations and the estimated 4.9 billion connected devices in use today make cyber security a hot topic on the minds of Corporations, their boards and individuals a like. Alta Associates finds and develops the executives who lead the charge to secure organizations worldwide. Our unparalleled track record of success has made Alta the go-to firm for companies hiring Chief Information Security and Risk Officers. As part of the search process, we assist clients in developing job descriptions, identifying and preparing interviewers, determining compensation and defining the interview process and timeline. Alta’s services extend beyond placing the ideal candidate with programs to accelerate the success of all newly hired and promoted leaders within a company, and to engage, develop and advance women and minority leaders.

Q. When was Alta founded? Was there any specific motivation for setting the company up?
I founded Alta in 1986 and today we are the most prominent executive search firm specializing in Cyber security, Information Security and IT Risk Management. We have a unique story to tell. When the Russians hacked into Citibank in 1994, Alta was retained to build the first ever information security organization. Fast forward twenty years and we have successfully placed the most high-profile CISO’s for fortune 100 companies as well as first time CISO’s for organizations that are either creating or elevating the role.

Q. How is Alta different from its competitors?
We have been placing CISO’s and the teams that support them from the inception of the role as a stand-alone career. No other search firm has the length of history, the vast relationships or the trust of the industry’s thought leaders. We’ve earned that trust by not only building their teams, but giving executives sound leadership advice. That’s why most of our new search assignments come to us through referrals of our clients. Our real secret sauce is our team of seasoned recruiters who have developed deep relationships with the most sought after cyber security experts and can quickly match their skills to our client’s needs. They are the most respected and knowledgeable recruiters in this space and are sought out for their advice. Each individual Alta team member takes personal responsibility for ensuring the success of every search. It’s that personal commitment and dedication to understanding the nuances that each client faces that allows us to develop a very customized, refined and timely search.

Q. What kind of service offerings does Alta have in store for its clients?
We understand that each search has its own unique challenges and goals, and we are committed to provide a diverse slate of candidates for consideration. We utilize the ‘Alta Advantage’ – a framework to assist clients in developing job descriptions, identifying and preparing interviewers, determining “market value“compensation and defining the interview process and timeline. We know that CISO’s are not one size fits all.

We have the knowledge to adeptly identify and attract candidates that fit each client’s unique circumstances. For example, we have done many retained searches for companies hiring their first ever CISO. These clients value Alta’s ability to work closely with their executive team to gain consensus on the role’s responsibility and placement in the organizational structure. They rely on us to develop meaningful job descriptions and most importantly help them to understand the skills and competencies of the executives that can be enticed at various compensation levels. Alta recruiters are skilled in finding candidates that have the ability to build the strategies, teams and relationships necessary to create new organizations. Some companies have elevated the role and require us to find an executive that can increase their department’s credibility, influence the organizational culture, deliver their initiatives globally, and present to the board. Other searches involve finding a turn around candidate – someone to rapidly diagnose situations and affect change. We have success stories and great references for all of these situations.

Q. Is there anything companies can do to ensure the success of newly hired executives?
We understand that a company spends a lot of time, money and energy on hiring its executives. We also know research shows that 40% of executives hired at the senior level are pushed out, fail or quit within the first 18 months.

Alta’s services extend beyond placing the ideal candidate to accelerating the success of all newly hired and promoted leaders within a company. Alta’s Transition Accelerator is an executive on boarding program that is research based and customized to an organization’s culture and the executive’s needs. The Transition Accelerator program provides one-on-one practical, strategic and tactical guidance for newly hired or promoted executives across an organization. Investing in a scalable standardized on-boarding program is rewarded by enhanced new leader effectiveness, alignment to organizational goals, increased retention and corporate culture assimilation.

Q. Alta’s underlying strength seems to lie in its ability to identify and place leaders. How has the company helped to transform the lives of women and minority leaders?

Alta is committed to developing all leaders in our industry. We understand the unique challenges our clients face in developing and advancing women and minority leaders and are passionate about helping them achieve their goals. In 2002, I founded the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Privacy. Today we are the largest organization serving emerging leaders as well as the most prominent women in our field. Based on current research and our client’s needs, we developed the Leadership Journey, a comprehensive leadership development program that companies are implementing to build a pipeline of readily promotable female and minority leaders. Corporations are utilizing the Leadership Journey’s “inside out” approach for advancing women and under represented high potential employees across Employee ResourceGroup’s.

My team and I are truly passionate about our holistic approach to help companies find top-notch executives, provide scalable on-boarding processes to ensure their success and implement leadership development programs that advance women and minority leaders.