“Careers are never a straight line,” shares Richard Weiss, who went from engineer to IT to information security before landing his first C-suite role at AccentCare as vice president and chief information security officer (CISO). “It’s a lot of hard work, and there were a lot of roles between that first one and this, where eighty- to one hundred-hour weeks were not uncommon.”
He’s learned that in a career progression, it’s important to set expectations correctly on what it will take to get there and then do the work to land where you want to be.
Born and raised in New York, Weiss’s father bought him his first computer—an Intel 8088—at eight years old. He instantly felt a connection and knew he would be doing something with them in the future. Upon moving to Arizona after high school, he enrolled in a trade school that exposed him to more Microsoft classes, and he learned a great deal more about computer science.
Later in his career, he went back to college where he graduated from University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Science, with a focus on information management and health informatics.
Weiss soon joined a company where he was partially a helpdesk and systems administrator, which provided exposure to different technologies and different things over the years that helped him home in on what he wanted to do.
“On the technical side, I worked through different senior level engineers into team lead and into a management role,” he recounts. “I grew a passion for different aspects of technology, leadership of people, and was exposed to the right leaders, which helped develop my path of what may be good for me from a growth opportunity.”
Anyone with the right attitude and willingness to learn can be successful in this field, Weiss notes. Great leaders are always willing to spend time growing staff and helping them achieve their goals. Find that leader and be prepared to put in the work.
After twenty years of IT, cybersecurity and information security caught more of his attention, and he transitioned to working in those segments.
“There’s a saying in the industry that, ‘Bad guys have to be right once, but we have to be right 365 days a year, 100 percent of the time,’” Weiss shares. “It’s something that was just always attractive as someone who’s got an analytical mind to always play this cat and mouse game and work through security to help enable the business while keeping it safe and secure.”
One of the opportunities Weiss got early in his career was to work at a healthcare company. Once he did, he was able to understand the company’s mission—to make other people’s lives better—and he knew it was something he wanted to stay in.
“Healthcare is just a great place to be,” he says. “So, I spent many years in healthcare, built some great relationships, and found out through the CIO over at AccentCare—whom I had worked with previously—that they were looking for a new CISO, and we set up the interview process.”
Weiss landed the role in November 2022 and now works with several people that he has worked with earlier in his career.
“There’s an attractive part of working with known people that you have already built a relationship with, can trust, and you know can do great things together,” he explains. “AccentCare is an industry leader when it comes to home health, hospice, and personal care services. As my parents get older, I could start to relate with a lot of the things we do, and it became a real easy thing to develop a passion around.”
His background made the position the perfect fit, and he notes there were two primary things that prepared him for the role. “One is just being in the technology space for all of my career, but even through my youth, spending time with computers, so it’s always been in my blood,” Weiss says. “Secondly, being exposed to the right leaders in my career path who really helped guide me to prepare me for a C-suite role. I was surrounded by supportive, empathetic, and encouraging leaders.”
In his current role, Weiss’s responsibilities are all information security, protecting the business while enabling it to be successful and ensuring that the data stays within the virtual four walls so it comes and goes out of the company as it is intended to do so.
“It’s everything from endpoints to the infrastructure and ensuring that all the sensitive data that we have stays protected and safe,” he explains. “We have millions of lives that we’re responsible for, and our clients expect us to keep that sensitive data safe and secure.”
He also works closely with CyberMaxx on cybersecurity goals, partnering to help tighten up cybersecurity. “Richard has developed an environment where everyone is empowered to focus on what matters most and can focus on protecting the security of AccentCare’s patients, staff, and facilities,” says Lisa Burke, vice president of major accounts at CyberMaxx. “We have developed a true partnership with Richard and his team and look forward to continuing to strengthen the organization’s security posture.”
CyberMaxx acts as AccentCare’s 24/7 eyes and ears on a lot of its tools.
“My internal team does a lot of the day-to-day stuff—strategic movement of projects and helps really drive the company forward, but CyberMaxx is the ones that ensure that everything we do stays secure through monitoring, alerting, and proactive investigation,” Weiss explains. “We send them logs and a lot of disparate information, and they’re able to correlate all of it, make it consumable and help us be aware of threats, all while keeping us informed of what’s going on in the environment.”
In addition to his leadership AccentCare, Weiss was a founding member of the DallasCISO Advisory Board, helping to foster meaningful relationships by hosting noncommercial, member-led programs and helping other CISOs gain leadership advantages. “It’s really about building a network of individuals where we can talk through the challenges and the things we’re all facing,” he shares.
And in that role, as well as his position as a leader at AccentCare, Weiss helps to help others climb the ladder of success.
Uplifting Voices and Teamwork
One main thing Richard Weiss has learned throughout his career is that every opinion counts.
“Every voice in the room matters, and that’s key for me,” he says. “I don’t like when we’re introduced by titles. When we get in a room, everyone has an equal voice, and no voice matters more than another. When people realize that their opinions are valued, people will contribute more and be a better part of the team.”
“We all bring a strength that someone else may or may not have,” he notes. “Collectively, that’s a really powerful formula.”