I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason J. Hogg, Leader of Aon Cyber Solutions and Chief Executive Officer of Stroz Friedberg, an Aon company. Jason is responsible for the firm’s global operations and growth strategies, bringing to the role a wealth of experience in technology, finance, and business leadership.
What is your “backstory”?
I am an entrepreneur, inventor, and technologist at heart. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have an incredibly diverse range of experiences — from being a special agent in the FBI, to starting a technology business from my garage, to running global blue chip organizations, expanding into new markets, and working in private equity and academia. I’ve worked with some amazing people, and together we have revolutionized industries from the payment sector to mortgage-backed securities. Along the way, I’ve issued over 500 patent claims for complex systems in digital transactions, cybersecurity, geo-location, mobile transactions, fraud prevention and design. The culmination of these varied experiences has led to my dream role as CEO of Aon Cyber Solutions.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Within five hours of being named the CEO of Aon Cyber Solutions, I received a text from my college roommate asking if I had “gone off the deep end”. It turned out that a Twitter account that had been set up in my name when I was CEO of Revolution Money was hacked and the hacker had started posting rants as if they were coming from me. I thought two things to myself: “well, that didn’t take long, and if I needed validation on the need for my new job, I just got it.”
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
At our core, we help and protect people and organizations. More often than not, people come to us in a state of personal or professional distress stemming from some form of cyber attack that has completely upended their lives and ability to operate. We have incredibly dedicated, thoughtful and experienced professionals with deep technical and legal expertise, as well as proprietary technology developed from helping people under these difficult circumstances for years. The breadth of services we offer is another way we stand out — not only being able to conduct complex technical investigations to understand the source of the attack and to get systems back up and running, but also the ability to help companies manage the often devastating financial impact of these types of incidents through insurance and other solutions. This enables us to rapidly mitigate harmful actions and get people and organizations back on their feet as quickly as possible, with the least amount of disruption.
As an illustrative example, companies in the hospitality industry are a soft target for cyber criminals as they process millions of records containing personally identifiable information (PII) and use potentially vulnerable point-of-sale (POS) applications and booking systems that handle customer credit cards. One global enterprise in the industry was notified by its processing bank that a number of its major properties had been compromised by cyber attackers. We were hired to help understand the extent of the compromise, the scope of the affected credit cards that could trigger reporting obligations, and any forensic evidence that might impact the liability of the company. Our team forensically preserved or reviewed hundreds of servers or workstations from hundreds of its properties, and used our proprietary scanning tool to evaluate the potential compromise of thousands of its servers across the world. Through the forensic evidence we collected, we helped the company define the limits of the breach, create a picture of when and how it occurred, provide remediation recommendations, as well as minimize our client’s legal exposure.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Practice total transparency and lead by example. Smart people would rather understand the whole picture, warts and all, than be told everything is fine all the time. Transparency not only engenders trust, but engages your people to help in the problem solving and have a vested interest in the success of the organization. Also, own your mistakes. Sometimes you have to stand in front of your people and take some tough medicine (you should if you screw up!), but your people will respect you more for admitting it and then rolling your sleeves up to help fix things.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I’ve been fortunate to have phenomenal mentors like my Dad, Charlie Cawley (founder of MBNA), and Ted Leonsis (the founder of multiple companies including Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and — where I met him — Revolution Money), as well as amazing colleagues that have worked with me across multiple companies. However, the one person I am most grateful to is my wife and college sweetheart Alexandra. Her constant support, encouragement and valuable advice gets me through the most challenging circumstances.
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
We have a very close knit family and we believe that comes from “being truly present” when we’re together. We make a deliberate effort to unplug and put the phones down, which might be as simple as sharing a quick dinner at the kitchen table during the week. We’re very deliberate in choosing activities (camping, sailing, skiing for instance) that force us to unplug so we can maximize our personal interaction and enjoy each other’s company.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
Absolutely, I found that it became very easy to get over committed. More people began seeking me out and presenting more opportunities to participate in interesting things and that had a domino effect on consuming my time. It took me a while to learn how to say “no” in order to make sure I focused on my health and my family, definitely something Alexandra keeps me in check on.
Who were some of your mentors that exemplified work/life balance?
My Dad for starters. He was CEO of MasterCard and yet never missed a football game of mine, always took my call when I needed advice no matter what meeting he was in or simply asked me to go for a swim together if he saw I needed to unwind. Ted Leonsis also provided me with a wonderful example of spending time with his wife and children, being very protective of that time together and encouraging me to do so when he was my Chairman at Revolution Money.
What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?
The relationship I have with my boys. Despite being busy and successful teenage student athletes, they still seek out spending time together, seek my advice, come over to show me something or text me something to make me laugh. They also play an active roll in planning activities where we can get quality alone time.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this.
Melinda Gates, because I admire her focus on the lack of women in technology, an issue I face as a leader first hand, and would want to discuss how to effectively address this important issue on a global scale.
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Originally published at medium.com