Yaadhna Singh-Gounden, Country Manager: Sub-Sahara, West and South Africa at StarLink, on her memorable achievements and what drives her on.
Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?
Within StarLink, I currently have the privilege of taking on the role of a Country Manager for the Sub-Saharan Africa region, covering Eastern, Western and Southern Africa countries respectively. My role affords me the opportunity to lead cross-functional, international expansion projects and work with different business teams. As a Country Manager, I am required to define and drive expansion into new marketplaces and develop a strong footprint of our brand across my respective regions by growing and leading a winning team. This role is incredibly rewarding; however, it also comes with its challenges which continues to keep me passionate, alert and continuously improving myself.
When you look back at your career what has been the most memorable achievement?
Being part of the StarLink team, it is difficult trying to list one specific memorable achievement; with each quarter, it brings about a new challenge, but so too a phenomenal achievement. However, if I had to single out the reason behind my drive and success, I would say it is my team across Africa that currently stands out as my most memorable achievement. Being part of the process of personally selecting future leaders, the reason behind StarLink’s success regionally gives me a feeling of immense pride.
What made you think of a career in technology?
As a child, I have fond memories of my father’s computer in our study. I remember figuring out the different applications connecting our home printer to the machine. It was then that I started to develop a passion for computers, which led to technology. Shortly after school and tertiary education, I started to appreciate the security risks involved in an ever-changing landscape of technology and decided to pursue a career in cybersecurity.
What style of management philosophy do you employ at your current position?
In my capacity as a Country Manager, working with several regions, cultures and departments, as well as various levels of staff, I have adopted a ‘situational leadership’ philosophy. I believe in harnessing the power of people; despite the growing attention being placed on technology and cybersecurity, it is still crucial.
What is your style as a team leader?
My leadership style allows me to utilise a range of different styles depending on the environment. Factors such as team member seniority, our StarLink business model, regional processes and the complexity of relevant tasks all play a vital role in my approach.
What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2018?
This year has proved to be an exciting year for cybersecurity solution providers and I believe that 2019 will continue to raise this bar as technology evolves, so does the threat and attack landscape. At StarLink, our focus is not to distribute product, but to advise our channel on security solutions that are tailor made to specific needs. Companies will do good to stay ahead and learn more about trends that are here to stay such as; full-lifecycle incident management, IoT ransomware, and attacks powered by Artificial intelligence. AI and Machine learning software has the aptitude to learn from the consequences of former events and help in classifying cyber security threats, however this can work as a double-edged sword as hackers can use the same AI to unleash sophisticated cyberattacks, therefore it would be wise to consult with security advisors on turn-key solutions.
What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?
As my role often requires me to travel within Africa, there is no place quite like home after hours and on weekends. I have two adorable Great Danes that demand much…all my attention when home.
How do you cope with stress and demands of your career?
I believe that there is a solution to any scenario, and it simply takes a clear mind to find a way forward. Working with large teams, different cultures and several countries affords one the opportunity to become resilient. It is important to remember the following in stressful scenarios: My purpose in my role; concentrate on a positive outcome; judge wins and losses simultaneously; Prioritise what is important; don’t compare myself with others; have a plan and execute it; and believe in myself. However, if a situation is overwhelming, it always helps to get a second opinion. No harm comes from asking for help ever so often, even in a leadership role. StarLink has an incredibly strong executive management team that has many years of collective wisdom in building businesses and growing teams.
What gives you great job satisfaction?
I am passionate about my role and this is the foundation of my job satisfaction. Striving towards being the leading, trusted security adviser within Africa is what drives me.