On the lighter side of things we ask the industry experts what makes them tick. Here we speak to Sébastien Pavie, Regional Director META, Enterprise and Cybersecurity, at Gemalto.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Almost nine years ago now, I convinced the senior management of my company at the time to open an office in Dubai to look after the Middle East and Africa market from within the region as opposed to remotely.
We made this move at a time which was very early days for the type of solutions we offered and the region was still suffering from the financial crisis. As a result, we were able to exceed all expectations from the first year with a very significant over-achievement.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
In the year 2000, I came back from Jordan to France at the time of the internet bubble. After getting experience in the music and advertising industries in France, followed by the diplomatic world in Jordan, I decided I wanted to work in a highly innovative industry.
The internet buzz got me interested to look at IT, but I then found something even more cutting edge as I was searching for career opportunities. There was this IT vendor starting a new division called Internet Security, I got the job and stayed with IT Security ever since.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I would say my style of management has probably always been driven by three main aspects.
First, always be supportive. I have always positioned myself as a helper to the team I manage and I am here to support them on all aspects of their jobs so they can perform better.
I also always try to ensure I hire the right, self-driven individuals and structure the team with the right seniority layers in order to remain focused on what really matters. By doing this, we can improve the regional performance instead of having to too often dive into micromanagement or excessive reporting processes.
Second, sustain your expertise. I strongly believe in specialisation as a strength and I certainly work in an industry which requires that. By starting from scratch as a single sales person, I was able to build the initial customer and partner base across the region before handing it over to my team members.
With more than 18 years in the industry, 10 of which were in Europe followed by almost nine in Dubai running the MEA region (META since January 2017), this experience has put me in a good position to understand every market in depth as opposed to just managing a team from day one, making me both a regional and industry specialist the team can rely on.
Lastly, think ahead. Having always had to manage sales of fast evolving portfolios of solutions across large geographies, it has been absolutely critical to make sure we identify the type of technology, market and approach early-on that will help get our business to the next level.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Digital transformation is definitely the hot talking point of the moment and it goes hand in hand with data protection. This is now referred to by a lot of IT and cybersecurity vendors for different types of technology, but only one of which is truly data centric: Encryption. Data breaches and new generation regulations such as GDPR are all over the news and they all point to data encryption as the only way to keep sensitive data secure.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
It is a fast-paced industry and quite a fragmented region which is quite demanding with regards to the amount of time required for the role. In order to remain efficient, it is important to keep things in perspective.
I always try to keep a balance between spending time with the family, with friends, doing some sports and learning something not directly related to work. For example, I am currently learning Arabic as a way to focus on learning outside of my role at Gemalto. It is always important to maintain a work-life balance where possible.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
While I would change some tactical moves I have made over the years, I wouldn’t go back and change a career decision. I feel very blessed with the market coverage and growth achieved so far, and it is a privilege to work in this role at Gemalto. I am fortunate to work in an industry and a region with fantastic momentum and endless potential.