One of the most influential conversations in Cheryl Santor’s career required plenty of gumption.
Santor, working in IT at a mortgage banking firm in the 1990s, had major concerns about non-proprietary memory that had been installed, jeopardizing the main system for collecting loan information. She voiced her concerns to her CIO in no uncertain terms, believing the integrity of the loan origination system was at stake.
It turns out, Santor’s candor – and insights – were respected more than she could have anticipated. About a year later, that same CIO hired her to work at a national bank where she eventually became CISO.
“He appreciated my diligence, integrity and forthrightness,” Santor said. “This boosted my career and provided the backdrop for my future.”
Santor, a longtime ISACA member, recently retired as the Information Security Manager of Metropolitan Water District of SoCal, where she ensured the security of the business and SCADA network systems. Her responsibilities included review of all national and global intelligence that might affect water system reliability. She continues her ISACA involvement, and work with the FBI InfraGard and other professional organizations, to provide expertise in her areas of focus.
The fourth-generation Californian recently was nominated by a colleague as a finalist in the Los Angeles Business Journal’s CTO Awards.
“I have been in this work for 28-plus years and it has always been a passion, so to be recognized for that passion is reward in itself,” Santor said.
An information security professional “before there was such a title,” Santor said she emphasizes awareness of security best practices, including disaster recovery exercises and access controls.
Santor has been actively involved in ISACA’s Los Angeles chapter for 17 years. She was an IT auditor when she first joined.
“Seeing that audit and security went hand-in-hand, in providing the best for any organization, I joined ISACA,” Santor said. “I knew that ISACA would provide me the intelligence and expertise as I moved through my career.”
In recent years, Santor has become especially passionate about ISACA’s Cybersecurity Nexus (CSX) program as a resource for cyber security professionals to gain the needed skills and training to keep pace with fast-evolving cyber threats.
“Whether they are entering the field, changing careers or just becoming the person who is taking cyber security on for their company, they can look to ISACA’s knowledge to support their efforts,” Santor said.
Santor and her husband, Louis, have four children and eight grandchildren. Rather than having a hard time keeping up with her grandchildren, it might be the other way around; Santor is a car enthusiast whose hobbies include racing Corvettes and Cadillacs. A less adrenaline-infused passion is quilting, which Santor said benefits from a similar mindset to her professional wiring.
“I like to take fabric, cut it up and create a new version or outcome,” she explained. “To me it is somewhat like computer forensics. You are presented with a puzzle and you need to make sense of it as the final outcome – an investigative process in both instances.”