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‘UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain have begun digitisation but there are challenges’

‘UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain have begun digitisation but there are challenges’

Amir Kanaan, Managing Director of Kaspersky Lab for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa

Here we speak to Amir Kanaan, Managing Director of Kaspersky Lab for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, to find out what makes him tick in and outside the office. He tells us: “Although many Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain have already begun the implementation of core digitisation initiatives, there are still many challenges towards the acceptance of new technologies, operational or otherwise.”

  • What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

My appointment as Managing Director of Kaspersky lab for the META region has been the crowning achievement of my career. I’m proud to be part of Kaspersky Lab and I’m excited to work on improving the level of cybersecurity in the region.

I joined Kaspersky Lab as the General Manager for the region and oversaw the company’s performance driven by strong results, showing 31% growth in 2017.

Another personal achievement of mine is starting a beautiful family and watching my two kids grow and prosper in school.

  • What first made you think of a career in technology?

As a holder of a Master’s of Science degree in Electric Engineering, I have always been intrigued about technology and how it has come to shape many facets of our lives. Technology is a passion of mine and I enjoy nothing more than learning the trends that technology is taking in order to work more efficiently and see progress and success.

  • What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

Kaspersky Lab’s ethos has always been in the commitments we make to cybersafety as well as to tech design initiatives. I have adapted a leadership style that emphasizes this and rewards innovation and creativity. As a firm believer in our team’s ability and expertise, Kaspersky Lab will continue to innovate and create shared values in the field of cybersecurity and to always stay ahead of the ever-evolving world of online threats.

  • What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?

We are now witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution opening up at an unprecedented rate in the Gulf region. The lines are blurring between physical, digital, and biological spheres, collectively. With such an evolution in the tech world, so does the inevitability of cybercrimes becoming more complex and harder to detect.

With over 40% of gulf firms admitting to cyberbreaches, companies will need to invest heavily in cybersecurity to safeguard their data and mitigate risk to ensure their survival in an ever increasing tech dominated market.

  • How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

To unwind, I like to spend time with my family and do quite a bit of reading too. I like to stay up to date with tech trends and global politics and I’m a fan of Video on Demand apps such as Netflix. Of course nothing compares to traveling with friends and family. 

  • If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?

I think we all have moments that we would do differently.  But overall, I’m pleased with the direction I’ve taken, the decisions I’ve made, and the things that have happened in my career and in my personal life.

  • What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

Business across different industries are becoming aware of the importance of investing in cybersecurity. with data breaches becoming ever more costly, we are seeing IT security play an increasingly strategic role in business decision-making today

A new report from Kaspersky Lab has indicated that IT security is at last gaining more of a strategic role among the business community – with findings suggesting it is starting to be treated as an investment, rather than simply a cost-centre.

The company has found that the growing costs of recovering from a cybersecurity incident are forcing business leaders to give IT security a larger portion (24%) of their overall IT budgets in the Middle East, Turkey and South Africa. In addition, both enterprises and very small businesses expect their IT security budgets to grow by 18% in the next three years.

  • What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in the Middle East?

Although many Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain have already begun the implementation of core digitisation initiatives, there are still many challenges towards the acceptance of new technologies, operational or otherwise.

Lack of awareness and stringent work cultures are some of the key contributors to hindering the acceptance of implementing new tech initiatives in the work place as well as private lives.

Overall, companies need to embrace the digital opportunity- and address the associated challenges. Like any tool, a digital talent platform must be wielded properly.

  • What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?

I was recently appointed as Managing Director for KASPERSKY LAB in the META region. Before that, I was its General Manager, a position in which I had learned a lot from and it shaped my strategies to grow the business.

For the next 12 months my role will focus on strengthening KASPERSKY LAB’s leadership in the region by strategically promoting the company’s vision of spreading cybersecurity awareness on a national level. I will also  bepromoting Kaspersky Lab’s award-winning business and consumer products as well as the company’s Threat Intelligence services.

  • What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain c-level position in your industry?

For anyone wishing to join a c-level position in cybersecurity, I would say that this is the perfect time for it. As the market for IT security in the Middle East is expected to grow to US$22.14 Billion by 2022, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets, so will the need for people to work in this industry.

Many companies in the field are growing economically and expanding which in turn leads to a greater rise of people who will work their way up. The market is super competitive and my advice to people is to develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.