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Sedar LaBarre is a Booz Allen vice president leading the firm’s commercial cyber strategy practice. He leads a multidisciplinary team focused on helping companies understand their cyber challenges and risks, set grounded and data backed priorities, and rationalize how they will secure their businesses for growth today and in the future.
Sedar, with over 20 years of consulting experience, is a recognized international expert in cybersecurity standards and practices, was the chief architect of the firm’s CyberM3 reference maturity model, and has experience with convergent IT, OT, and product security.
He has worked within all sectors of the U.S. government and with public-sector clients in the United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East. He currently works extensively within the private-sector in financial services, retail, telecommunications, consumer products, Oil & Gas, industrial manufacturing, and the automotive industry.
Why did you choose Booz Allen? I wanted to be a consultant first and foremost, because I saw it as an opportunity to continue to learn and experience new and diverse challenges. When I joined Booz Allen, the firm had just hired some very prominent leaders from the intelligence community and was building a significant national security presence that I wanted to be a part of. I also liked Booz Allen’s core values and very smart people.
“We think of cybersecurity as a business problem, something that affects an entire enterprise’s practices both internally and externally, not just an IT solution tacked on at the end of development.”
What type of work do you do at Booz Allen? I drive the development and focus of cybersecurity services for Booz Allen's commercial financial services, health, and energy markets. I also have direct market responsibilities for industries that don’t fall into those areas, such commercial manufacturing, IT, and software companies.
How has your background/education helped you be successful at Booz Allen? I've had a variety of experiences that at first don’t seem related, but they have come together to help me understand people and business operations. One of my degrees is in psychology, so that’s the people side. At Booz Allen, from working in the intelligence business with defense and civil government clients, I understand the functional aspects of building and creating cybersecurity programs. And I learned the business side from leading the firm’s commercial cybersecurity business in the Middle East and Europe.
Discuss some of your career highlights. I like being able to help clients see a challenge in a different light. Often I’ll be in client meetings with a company’s senior leaders, including the CEO, and someone will comment that they see cybersecurity as an IT issue. I respectfully disagree and explain how cybersecurity affects everything a business is and does. That usually turns the conversation around; they get that cybersecurity is not just about IT, that it’s vital to business success.
What types of skills in your field are needed to be successful at Booz Allen? Besides being experienced in your functional area, you also need basic consulting skills. That includes being curious, asking the right questions, gaining insight into the client’s business and what’s not working for the business, creating the approaches to solve the problems, and communicating that effectively in a way that’s actionable for the client. And you have to be open, curious, and passionate about helping clients solve their problems, considering their success your success.
Why is Booz Allen an ideal firm for someone with expertise/skills in your field of work? Booz Allen’s cybersecurity capability is considered one of the best in the industry. Clients characterize us as having military-grade cybersecurity expertise. We have world-class technologists and thought leaders, not only in the cyber area, but also in many other capabilities, and we are free to call on any of them to help our clients. We work with clients on diverse, interesting, sometimes never-before-seen challenges.
What differentiates Booz Allen from other management consulting, technology and engineering services companies? We think of cybersecurity as a business problem, something that affects an entire enterprise’s practices both internally and externally, not just an IT solution tacked on at the end of development. So we work with clients to integrate cybersecurity at every level of operations. We also have a depth and breadth of functional and domain expertise—unrelated to cybersecurity—that we can bring into a client engagement as needed. For instance, we were working with a manufacturing company, so we were able to tap the firm’s supply chain experts.
At Booz Allen, we care about missions that matter. Discuss one that you are involved in. I have a passion for doing endurance sports. When I lived in Abu Dhabi, I got interested in ironman triathlons, and over the course of three years I did 11 marathons, 12 ironman triathlons, and two 50-mile ultra-marathons. And I have swum across the Chesapeake Bay. I have a passion for different experiences and for pushing myself to see how far I can go.
What projects have you had the opportunity to work on at Booz Allen where you have used your industry-related skills? I led the development of a capability we call CyberM3, which stands for measure, manage, and mature. It’s a unique diagnostic tool that helps clients understand where their security processes are today and how cybersecurity impacts their business. It’s scalable to apply to small companies or large, multi-national organizations.
What excites you about your work? It’s a passion for solving problems and learning in the process. Regardless of what the face value of any engagement presents, each is uniquely different at its core, each has different shaping forces and cultural challenges, yet all are grounded in the need to drive the business past some point. I truly enjoy the chance to dive into this on a daily basis.