Patrick Byrne, chief information security officer at Evans Bank, offered insight and advice to students during his presentation, “The Power of Discomfort: How Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Help You Grow.”

As a college student, Patrick Byrne didn’t take advantage of the extracurricular opportunities he had to gain valuable experience in his field of accounting and to connect with professionals in the industry. He made up for lost time after graduation, however, by finding his niche—cybersecurity—and focusing on professional development through conferences and networking. Today, he is chief information security officer at Evans Bank and a Buffalo Business First “30 under 30” honoree.

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, Byrne offered insight and advice to students in Niagara University’s Holzschuh College of Business Administration during his presentation, “The Power of Discomfort: How Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Help You Grow.”

Identifying a mentor was key to his progression in a field where he had no prior experience, he noted. Getting involved with organizations both within his industry and in the community helped him gain transferable skills, and a colleague he met as a member of the Western New York chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors led to his first position as information security officer with Evans Bank. He was promoted to his current role after only a year.

To build a strong foundation for their future, Byrne recommended that the students make time to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them, ask questions and challenge the norm, and take on challenges, even if they are outside their comfort zone. He also encouraged them to find what they are passionate about and to use their skills to help others in need.

As the chief information security officer of Evans Bank, Byrne is responsible for day-to-day security event management, enterprise-level cyber risk management, and plays a role in making strategic decisions as they relate to enabling business and protecting information. He is vice president of the WNY chapter of IIA and a member of the Bishop Timon St. Jude board of trustees. He holds certifications as an Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC).