Name: Steve Lipner
Title/Employer: Senior Director of Security Engineering Strategy, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft Corporation
Education: S.B. and S.M. in civil engineering from M.I.T; Program for Management Development from the Harvard Business School
Tenure in IT industry: 38 years plus, if you count work while in graduate school.
First ever tech job: Building analog-digital instrumentation electronics for the MIT civil engineering department, while an undergraduate.
Current role: Senior director of security engineering strategy at Microsoft. Developing and putting into operation Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle, which enables our development teams to build more secure software.
What's been your best job and why?
This one. It lets me improve the lives of hundreds of millions of users of Microsoft products and change the way the industry thinks about software security.
What do you think is the number one non-IT skill IT professionals need today?
I'd say it is listening to the customer(s) " whoever they may be " and understanding the real problem you need to solve. When I've done that successfully, I've succeeded. When I've lost sight of that rule, it hasn't been pretty.
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What do you credit your career success to?
I was fortunate enough to have a good undergraduate education, and that was supplemented by the opportunity to work with some very smart people and to have some managers who were willing to take a chance on some of my ideas.
What are the top three skills a high-level IT manager needs today?
- Figuring out who the customer is and listening
- Setting priorities in a world of competing interests
- Having enough technical savvy to avoid being surprised.
What's your favorite IT resource site and why?
As a security guy, www.microsoft.com/technet/security
What is the best career advice you've ever received?
Think long term.
What's the top advice you'd give to a new IT staffer?
I think personal integrity is really important. It may go without saying, but reputation is everything and people do have really long memories.
What would you advise someone looking to find the type of role you currently have?
Build a technical base, and then learn management at the project level. Work for people you respect in jobs you enjoy going to every day.
What is the one career decision you would change if you could?
I once started a project that was really technically cool. If I'd listened to the customers, I'd have killed it much sooner (and with much less cost and pain) than I did.
If you had the choice to jump into any other job, tech or non-tech, what would it be?
I can't imagine doing anything as interesting or fun.
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