Philip Hung Cao

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Faces of ISACA: Michael Thiessmeier, Senior Manager, Technology & Security Risk Management, Oportun

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Editor’s note: The ISACA Now series titled “Faces of ISACA” highlights the contributions of ISACA members to our global professional community, as well as providing a sense of their lives outside of work. Today, we spotlight risk management professional and ISO delegate Michael Thiessmeier.

Perhaps owed to his military background, Michael Thiessmeier believes that knowing how to perform the duties of both his supervisors and subordinates is the best way to ensure success. He has put in the time to make sure that’s the case.

Thiessmeier has more than 20 certificates and certifications, including ISACA’s COBIT Foundation certificate.

“Think about it this way,” Thiessmeier said. “One person might go watch soccer on Sundays. I might sit on that same couch preparing for a certification exam and feel the same kind of joy and excitement if I pass that the other person feels when their home team scores a goal.”

Thiessmeier joined ISACA in 2012 when professors in Germany – where he was born and spent seven years performing military service – encouraged him to seek out professional organizations.

“I spent years looking for options and evaluating my career path,” Thiessmeier said. “Finally, I determined that ISACA was best aligned with the direction that my career was taking.”

His current role is Senior Manager, Technology & Security Risk Management, with Oportun in Redwood City, California, USA. He is especially interested in how trends like machine learning necessitate automating controls testing.

“Being situated at the intersect of fin-tech and financial services allows me to work on things that have not been done before,” Thiessmeier said. “There truly is no cookie-cutter approach to our industry, and that’s where the research I am doing with ISACA and other organizations turns out to be very helpful.”

Thiessmeier also is heavily involved with ISO as a delegate expert for ISACA, a relationship that came about when he saw an opening on the ISO liaison committee posted on ISACA’s website. He is active in the Security Controls and Services, and Identity Management and Privacy Technologies working groups, and recently was elected as project co-editor for the ISO standard pertaining to application security validation and verification.

Some of Thiessmeier’s career highlights include working on the largest gaming console launch in history – he was manager of consumer services technology with Sony PlayStation during the PS4 launch – while at the same time participating in a major customer relationship management (CRM) implementation that automated consumer service processes.

“During that time I was not only allowed to lead several teams of incredibly smart and caring individuals, but also designed and ran the ‘war room’ used to manage that console launch,” he said. “Thanks to everyone involved, the launch was a great success and beat our expectations.”

Going forward, Thiessmeier intends to learn more about penetration testing. Fitting his overarching approach, that objective isn’t for personal gain as much as to continue deepening his broad-based reservoir of knowledge.

“I do not plan on being a penetration tester at this point in my career, but I want to make sure that I am in the best position to empower them in their day-to-day duties,” he said.

Aside from his traditional career interests, Thiessmeier volunteers for Team Rubicon, an organization that provides disaster response and veteran integration services.

“The moment you see a community that went through a horrible disaster pull together and come out of it closer than ever – no words can describe that,” Thiessmeier said.

[ISACA Now Blog]

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