On the lighter side of things, we ask Yaadhna Singh Gounden, Obscure Technologies African Region Head of Development, what makes her tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
The invaluable relationships I have forged along the way. I am truly appreciative of the opportunities I have been given to collaborate with exceptionally gifted people, in environments rich in knowledge and augmented by a desire to share with fellow professionals.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
Technology has always captivated me, but it was with cybersecurity that my curiosity truly sparked. The concept of protecting data and comprehending the risks associated with an increasingly digitised world intrigued me immensely. I remain grateful to the CISOs in the banking sectors of Kenya and Nigeria who generously provided me with opportunities to delve deeper into this industry.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My approach to team management varies depending on the scope of my role, the maturity of the team and the overall business. Essentially, I switch between laissez-faire, strategic or transformational. Mine is a consultative approach that prioritises empowerment and trust actively seeking out individuals who possess extensive knowledge and expertise in their fields. I strive to provide them with the necessary support to achieve outcomes that align with our company’s strategy and goals. I aim to create an environment that nurtures growth, delivers results and propels the organisation to success.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
The emergence of AI and ML in cybersecurity has become a significant talking point. These technologies are being increasingly utilised to bolster threat detection capabilities, automate security processes and enhance incident response mechanisms. This trend holds immense potential for bolstering the cybersecurity landscape across Africa. These technologies can analyse vast amounts of data, detect patterns and identify anomalies that may indicate potential cyberattacks.
The rapid evolution of AI presents the dual challenge of delivering advanced cybersecurity measures, but conversely providing malicious actors with sophisticated tools to launch more complex and targeted attacks. Collaborative initiatives between governments, industry experts and international partners can foster a comprehensive approach that ensures responsible AI implementation.
Leveraging AI and ML technologies in cybersecurity can also contribute to the growth and development of Africa’s digital economy by promoting confidence in digital transactions, attracting foreign investment and encouraging innovation. Economic growth and job creation will follow and the empowerment of African businesses in a global digital landscape.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
In the cyber and technology space generally, change is exponential, making down time crucial. Spending quality time with my loved ones is top of my list. I also prioritise mental and physical well-being by dedicating time to activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
All experiences are crucial to shaping who we are today. To date mine have provided me with the tools and knowledge necessary for continuous growth and improvement.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
High growth and emerging markets, in a nutshell, particularly with regards to the Middle East, Africa and Turkey markets, which present significant opportunities for major investments.
From a macro perspective, the IT industry has a critical skills shortage particularly in cybersecurity. There is a notable surge in investment in education initiatives that aim to address this challenge. Locally we have identified that skills development and cybersecurity awareness are trending topics especially within East and West Africa.
Tactically, we see customers are increasingly making substantial investments to transition from on-premises infrastructures to cloud-based solutions. This shift reflects the evolving needs of organisations seeking to optimise their operations and leverage the benefits of cloud technology. Governments are also playing a pivotal role in driving investments by enforcing regulations, policies and compliance measures. This heightened focus on governance and infrastructure improvements not only attracts investors but also enhances investor relations.
Consequently, East and West Africa have emerged as highly attractive markets, currently receiving significant attention and resources from forward-thinking vendors and next-generation thinkers. Recognising the potential of these key African markets, substantial investments are being directed towards these regions to capitalise on the opportunities they offer.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Africa?
- Infrastructure limitations.
- Digital divide.
- Skills shortage.
- Country specific regulatory environments.
- Cultural and contextual considerations.
Addressing region-specific challenges requires a holistic approach that involves collaboration among stakeholders, including governments, businesses and technology providers.
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?
Change is constant in the diverse economic landscape of Africa. Vendors, distributors and channel partners need to invest in understanding how the economy is shaping and changing the opportunity landscapes. Strategies that prove successful in one market may not necessarily yield the same results in another. Considering the immense diversity within the African continent, empowering regional experts to devise and implement strategies is essential for achieving success.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Embrace a global mindset. The path to a C-level position requires dedication, perseverance and a continuous pursuit of excellence. Stay focused, remain adaptable and leverage your unique strengths to make a lasting impact in our industry.
- Develop a comprehensive understanding of the industry.
- Cultivate a strong professional network.
- Continuously enhance your skills and knowledge.
- Grow strong leadership qualities.