Iraq Cybersecurity Pros Get Their Own Association Chapter

A Warm Welcome to Iraq Associations Now November/December 2018 Issue By: Maria Mihalik

A new Middle East chapter gives cybersecurity professionals in Iraq a link to global business technology association ISACA.

When the global business technology organization ISACA forms an international chapter, which it has done more than 220 times, even the smoothest of launches might be several years in the making before local requirements are met and a minimum of 40 members is recruited.

Not so with ISACA’s newest Middle East chapter, in Baghdad, Iraq.

In January 2018, several of ISACA’s nine members there asked the organization to create a formal chapter. They powered through the process of achieving recognition as a legal nonprofit entity, garnered support from the Central Bank of Iraq, met the conditions of ISACA’s chapter formation working group, and were approved by the association’s board of directors. By summer, 51 members joined Iraqi officials at a launch ceremony that made ISACA the first international nonprofit IT entity in the country.

“Five months is pretty remarkable,” says Joanne Duffer, ISACA chapter relations manager. The local members’ “diligence was very impressive. They took on the onus of getting more people engaged. [But] the speed also speaks to their need for being part of a body like this” that can support their professional growth and certification as cybersecurity specialists. Their particular skills are in high demand now as the Iraqi banks upgrade to electronic audits, says Duffer.

Besides motivated members, Duffer credits Dany Moarkech, a chapter formation working group member from Lebanon, for shepherding Baghdad members through the process of registering with the government.

“That can be a battle when you’re not a philanthropic organization,” says Megan Moritz, ISACA’s director of volunteer engagement, adding that a regional representative like Moarkech can make a tremendous difference to international associations looking to start a chapter in a new country.

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "A Warm Welcome in Iraq."]

Maria Mihalik

Maria Mihalik is newsletter and supplements editor of Associations Now in Washington, DC.