Brendan Healy Talks FBI, Working Abroad and Taking Chances in Risk

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Brendan Healy is a Senior Vice President and a Director of Third-Party Risk Management at Santander Bank, focusing on Information Security and BCP. Previously, he was with Morgan Stanley for five years, most recently as a Vice President and heading up firm’s the threat intelligence program. Brendan has held security and risk management roles with several firms across the financial services sector, including a Technology Risk Consultant position with Protiviti New York from 2005 – 2007. Connect with Brendan on LinkedIn.

hs3What led you to Protiviti?

For me, it was the opportunity to learn. Early in my career, I had a couple choices of where I could go, but Protiviti offered the most flexibility and the ability to work across multiple industries to really develop my career. I wasn’t pigeonholed – I got to work on different projects in across many domains from IT Audit, Technology Risk, Information Security and even an ERP Implementation project.  Protiviti really invested in my career through an excellent training program, support structure, and assignment diversity.

What was most impactful about your time at Protiviti?

There are three things that come to mind: first, the connections and long-term relationships I developed, including two mentors who I still keep in touch with today. The culture at Protiviti really fostered building relationships at all levels.


The FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia

The second was being able to learn and try new things. Protiviti offered me the chance to explore new practice areas, which led me to developing my background in Information Security. I also developed from mistakes and realized how to overcome new challenges which, early on in my career, was a valuable lesson to learn.  You’re not always going to get it right the first time, but learning from those experiences is crucial.

The third was getting involved in industry. I looked at a lot of Seniors, Directors and MDs, and noticed they were involved with different industry associations. One of my mentors encouraged me to get involved, so I joined an information security group sponsored by the FBI. It was a turning point for me and opened up many different facets of my career. I became President of the Long Island Chapter, later was appointed to the National Board Member of the FBI’s InfraGard Program, presented at multiple conferences, and was also invited to attend the National Cyber Executive Institute at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. I even joined a partner group while working in Hong Kong. If it wasn’t for my mentor, I wouldn’t have had those opportunities.


A view of Hong Kong

How did you end up working in Hong Kong?

In my last two years with Morgan Stanley, I was working with teams in London and APAC to broaden our information security program. In 2015, the firm asked me to live in Hong Kong for about half a year to focus on supporting our equities technology group’s risk management program and to lead the build out of the information security officer program.

What was challenging about moving your life and career to another country?

Any time you move somewhere with a 12 to 13 hour time difference, you get concerned about maintaining relationships back home. But it wasn’t as challenging as I thought. I found it great to jump in and connect with people instantaneously. Working in financial services technology also helped with the transition – when you work in this field, it’s a small world and you have connections globally. So within two weeks of living in Hong Kong, I already had a small group of friends.

How would you compare your work life in Hong Kong to your work life now?

I think Hong Kong is very much like New York in many ways. It’s a heavy finance city with a similar professional culture. The difference is that in Hong Kong, there’s an opportunity to work with different regulators and business partners across Singapore, mainland China, South Korea and Japan. As far as the work-life balance? It’s definitely a work hard, play hard mentality in Hong Kong.

What was unique about working in Hong Kong?


A snap with local kids taken while traveling in India

It’s the hub of Asia, so it’s very much a melting pot and it’s a very easy place to transit and see all of Asia Pacific. I traveled on the weekends to India, Singapore, mainland China, Seoul, the North Korean border – which I thought was pretty interesting – and that was every weekend. I also spent a lot of time outdoors. It was easy to go hiking or out on the water and have a good time. I even joined a running group that would trek through the mountains at night with headlamps on.

What advice would you give to others working abroad?

It’s a fantastic opportunity. Living somewhere new means testing your limits and trying new things. It’s putting yourself out there. I would recommend everyone take an overseas assignment if they can – try new things you wouldn’t normally do, try new foods, be social and make new friends. It’s not just an opportunity to further your career, but it’s an opportunity for overall personal development too.


The demilitarized zone at the border of South Korea and North Korea

Let’s talk about your current role. How’d you decide to make the move and what was the draw?

Leaving Morgan Stanley was a tough decision, but Santander has been growing in the U.S. and I was offered the opportunity to develop a BCP group focused on third-party risk management from the ground up. That’s what excited me. It’s rare to get an opportunity to build out a program and a team. I’m getting to build something that doesn’t exist and that’s exciting.


What’s the best part about building a team?

The best part is both great and challenging. I have been able to bring in folks from several different organizations, background and skill sets to focus on developing our program. That lends itself to seeing new perspectives, which I think is important. We’re building a culture that didn’t exist, so it’s challenging because you want to make sure you are finding the right folks and the right talent.

Why technology risk management?

Early on in my career, I wasn’t sure where technology risk would lead. But I’ve found that it is an extremely dynamic field and has the ability to support many different types of organizations and lines of business. It truly opens the door to many opportunities and challenges. For me, the skill set I’ve developed working in technology risk that has provided me with a solid foundation that has helped propel my career.

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