Team Deltek’s Caleb Merriman: The Driving Force Behind our World-Class Security Program
To give you a glimpse into what Deltek is all about, we are putting the spotlight on our employees and the diverse roles that they play as part of #TeamDeltek. This month, we put the focus on Caleb Merriman – an accomplished security professional, former U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, and Deltek’s VP & CISO. As the newest member of our leadership team, we interviewed Caleb to hear about his first few months on the job, his experience working as a remote employee and his plans for overseeing our world-class security program at Deltek.
Welcome to #TeamDeltek! You’ve been here for a few months now, getting acclimated to the company and onboarded. Tell us what your role as CISO is and how you’ve been spending your time since joining Deltek?
Caleb: Thank you for the warm welcome. It has been a strange time to transition into a new role, but I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of Deltek. My main responsibility as Chief Information Security Officer, or CISO for short, is leading the Deltek Global Information Security team – and that comes with tremendous responsibility! The protection of our customers’ information and business operations is essential to the Deltek brand and our viability as an organization. Although I have been leading information security programs for more than 20 years, each organization has unique opportunities and challenges. For that reason, I have focused much of my time over my first 90 days on learning about Deltek, our culture and how we operate as a business. Along the way I have made a few early observations that are guiding my planning and execution of our information security program. We have an outstanding team of intelligent, talented, and hard working professionals who are willing to learn, assist, and adopt an information security culture that aligns with our company growth and our increasing presence in the cloud.
With more operations moving to the cloud, information security is an increasingly critical part of our business and our products. For all of our employees, this means completing mandatory security training, reporting security events, and staying informed about security threats. For others, this also means producing secure code, hosting secure systems, and communicating security responsibilities and capabilities to our customers. It is not enough to simply operate securely, we must also effectively demonstrate this through assessments, audits and certifications to provide our customers with assurance that we can be trusted to protect their data and business capabilities.
Having a Global Information Security (GIS) team is relatively new for Deltek. Can you tell us about the GIS team and what types of projects you’re working on?
Caleb: The new GIS team is a service-oriented organization that is purpose-built to deliver the security capabilities most needed by Deltek. Through interview and observation the team has defined a list of more than 100 different security services to deliver and has assessed our current maturity level for each. With this catalog of security services as a guidepost, we have initiated organizational and technological changes to meet our security needs.
Additionally, to meet our rapidly approaching ITAR compliance obligations, we have launched a series of projects designed to build and enhance our security capabilities in a variety of areas such as Incident Response, Risk Management, Policy Management, Security Training, Business Continuity, and Continuous Monitoring, to name a few. This is an exciting time for information security at Deltek and I am thrilled to have the privilege of leading the program.
You work remote full time from Birmingham, Alabama—over 700 miles from our HQ office. How has that impacted your onboarding to Deltek and getting to know the team?
Caleb: I am very accustomed to working remotely, and Deltek is certainly set up to support its global workforce from any location, which made for a very seamless onboarding process. Plus, the majority of the Deltek information security team is remote, so joining a team of seasoned remote professionals felt only natural. While the various time zones can be a challenge from time to time, the technologies that we use at Deltek have made it very easy to be effective while working at home. I miss the free coffee and the casual conversation, but I love my commute.
I was very fortunate to visit the Herndon and Woburn offices before the entire company transitioned to working from home due to COVID-19. While I am certainly looking forward to having more in-person meetings in the future, I am enjoying the reduced travel schedule. One of my biggest remote working challenges is making an effort to disengage. I imagine most people are getting a sense of the benefits and challenges of working from home now, so maybe they will be understanding when they hear one of my dachshunds barking in the background of a Zoom meeting.
What’s a typical day in the life of Deltek’s CISO look like?
Caleb: There is no such thing as typical! I start most days between 5:00 a.m. - 5:30 a.m. with a short workout and one of many cups of coffee that I will drink throughout the day. I then move to my home office and begin a slate of meetings on a wide variety of topics. One of the things that I love about information security is that it touches nearly every part of the business, so I get to meet with people about our solutions and the cloud, IT, HR, and Legal nearly every day. I also occasionally meet with our auditors and customers, too. Like many of us, I juggle email and IM communications during and between Zoom meetings and when the day draws to a close, I focus my attention on meeting the work commitments I have made to others and planning the days to come. I’m not sure how, but I am convinced that everyone at Deltek has a clone since they are able to seemingly communicate and work simultaneously throughout the day!
What drew you to joining #TeamDeltek? Any surprises now that you have a few months under your belt?
Caleb: I chose to join Deltek because I was so impressed with the people that I met during the interview process. And, I felt that the current information security needs at Deltek are very well aligned with my experiences. What I have witnessed during my short tenure with the company has exceeded my expectations. We have a very talented team and everyone shows individual accountability and a willingness to learn and work hard to help the company succeed. The information security needs of the organization are clear and are within the scope of things I have done in the past. While I could not have anticipated some of the additional challenges that the Deltek team has faced in recent weeks due to COVID-19, I am very proud of the way we have responded.
In your bio, it says that you were in the Air Force for over 20 years. How did that experience prepare you for a career as a security professional?
Caleb: In many ways, information security and military operations are similar. In both, there are adversaries, a battlefield, weapons/tools, plans and training. I have been able to apply much of what I learned in the military with respect to leadership, problem solving, preparedness, and flexibility. I often find myself repeating things I said while flying C-130s in the Air Force like “flexibility is the key to airpower” or “a plan is only good until the first engagement with the enemy.” Most of all, I think recognition that people are the most important and most perishable asset of any organization is something that I can attribute to my time in the military.
Ok, last question. Being a part of #TeamDeltek means embracing our nine core values. Which of the values is your favorite?
Caleb: It is extremely difficult to pick just one of Deltek’s core values. Collaboration is a force multiplier and “speed is life” (that’s another one of those military quotes). Customer focus and innovation help us deliver outstanding results. Passion, curiosity, and the play to win are what motivate us to do our best every day. If I only get to pick one, I will choose integrity since that is the foundation of all of the others. If we fail to operate with integrity none of the other core values matter.
About Caleb Merriman
As Deltek's Information Security Officer (CISO), Caleb Merriman is responsible for leading Deltek's global information security team in support of providing the best software and solutions for project-focused businesses around the world. In addition to Caleb's security experience, he spent over 20 years as a pilot in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Connect with Caleb on LinkedIn.
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