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Microsoft’s Howard Wins Don A. Walker Award

​The last letter in the abbreviation GSX stands for "Exchange," but it's often the first thing on Mike Howard's mind. He loves sharing ideas that lead to personal and professional growth in the security industry.

Howard's commitment to professional development was recognized yesterday, as he received the Don Walker Award for Enterprise Security Executive Leadership.

The award recognizes an ASIS member who demonstrates a commitment to security management education, certification, and standards and guidelines at the executive level of the security discipline. Howard was lauded for his contributions to the development of the next generation of security leaders, which is a primary goal of the CSO Center for Leadership and Development. 

Howard's vision and leadership style has set the standard for security at Microsoft Corporation, where he has served as chief security officer for the past 16 years.

His team deals with threats of violence against executives and employees, employee violence, kidnapping threats, terrorism, natural disasters, property theft, and intellectual property protection. A few years ago, he oversaw the development of Microsoft's state-of-the-art Global Security Operations Centers in the United States, United Kingdom, and India.

Finding ways to communicate and demonstrate the importance of security—both physical and cyber—to the company's executives is the linchpin of developing a security program that manages to keep such a large and public company running smoothly, Howard says of his Microsoft role.

The Microsoft security team is responsible for 90,000 employees, roughly 90,000 contractors, and 700 facilities in more than 100 countries around the globe.

Those are large numbers, but Howard appreciates each one-on-one, give-and-take opportunity with a colleague or ASIS member. He is renowned by security peers for clear, effective communication. Throughout his time at Microsoft and his prior 22-year term with the CIA, he has worn the simultaneous hats of mentor, coach, and speaker.

At Microsoft, Howard is part of a mentoring network and has been singled out as an ideal leader to help struggling employees succeed. In the same hour, he might speak to executives about advanced cybersecurity hardware and lend a book to a colleague looking for guidance.

While working at a company that never leaves the public eye, Howard seeks to help others envision and develop a stronger security industry. He has supported a variety of ASIS programs (including ASIS Young Professionals and Women in Security), is a past president of the CSO Center, a past president of the International Security Management Association, a member of the OSAC Advisory Council, and a member of the Security Industry Association Board of Directors.

The Walker Award was inspired by Don A. Walker, CPP, chairman, Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.