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Fighting Dolphin talk – Cybersecurity and Privacy Hub

Broader Perspectives on SecurityI was invited to participate in a cybersecurity roundtable at the US Embassy in Bern to discuss best practices and experiences in cybersecurity policy. Participants were from private as well as public sector and the special guests were the US Ambassador to NATO, Douglas Lute and his wife Dr. Jane Holl Lute, CEO of the Center for Internet Security. At some point Dr. Jane Lute made a comment that too many IT leaders and executives still use dolphin talk. Not familiar with that language? You actually probably are because it is used quite widely by IT professionals. When “we” speak about a technology topic then the non-technology person understands about as much as when a dolphin is communicating with us.

I liked this comparison as much too often that is the reality and I am working on talking about technology and security in a more easily accessible way. One of the things I discovered in last week’s PwC EMEA Cybersecurity leadership meeting also works on improving that type of conversation. It is the PwC / WSJ Cybersecurity and Privacy Hub that you can find at www.pwc-broaderperspectives.com  This hub is sponsored by PwC and is created together with the Wall Street Journal custom studios. I like it especially as the articles aim at looking at cybersecurity and privacy in a broader fashion and use a vocabulary that does not require multiple classes in cryptography or equivalent. Why not check it out and let me know what you think?

Joining PwC – some thoughts at the start of the journey

It has been an interesting week to say the least and this morning I have time to catch my breath and reflect on the last few days – my first week at PwC as Partner, Cybersecurity. First and foremost, I want to thank everybody who reached out and sent me their congrats and wished me a good start. I will get back to you and answer personally but it still might take a few days. With the congratulations came also quite often the question why change to PwC? It is a good question – one that I will try to answer in this post.

The “why change” has really two factors. First, why leave Microsoft and second why join PwC and I will address them in that order. Leaving Microsoft has been a difficult decision. I am looking back at the last 5 years and it has been an extremely interesting time where I had the possibility to grow and show what impact security can have. Being able to help clients take advantage of modern technologies and being part of a company that is developing leading edge technology has been very inspiring and in the process I have made great friends and met many inspiring people. At the 5-year mark came the time where I had a hard look at where Microsoft is going and where I believe the needs of our clients are. In the end my view was that I cannot really help solve many of the big challenges in Cybersecurity when I look at it from a predominantly Microsoft perspective. To make myself clear – I actually believe Microsoft has a huge impact, will stay relevant and become probably even more relevant under the lead of Satya in the coming years but with the strategy being very clearly “cloud first” it leaves a big gap at today’s clients that is not really addressed from a cybersecurity perspective as there Microsoft is “just one” component. So I took a step back and looked at the big picture. In the end security is my passion (I know – it sounds weird…) and I want to be part in solving the really hard problems. And that is where PwC comes into the picture.

Joining PwC and not another of the big four or one of the leading global security providers comes in the end down to culture, capabilities, ambition and if it feels right. With PwC I ended up with the fantastic situation that all of these factors are in good shape. While not many people yet think first of PwC when they think about Cybersecurity the firms’ and my ambition is that this will change. PwC is doing a strategic investment push into technology – namely “digital, analytics and cyber”. The people that have had (sometimes long) discussions with me know that I see Cybersecurity as one of the biggest challenges today but more important as an enabling factor and not mainly a topic by itself. Cybersecurity and Privacy are the cornerstones for our society to function and grow. The present technologies that we all depend on, and even more the ones to come to play in the next years, will only be used when we trust them. And we typically only trust something that we know is secure and sufficiently private or would you sit in a car that is not safe and broadcasts to everybody at what locations you have stopped during the last half year? So being part of a big technology push together with digital and analytics is exactly where I want to be. And PwC itself has a fantastic brand, incredible capabilities and a corporate culture that I feel at home in. And the last part was for me something especially important. There are plenty of enterprises where the words say that it’s about the people and in the end it is predominantly about the numbers in spreadsheets and people don’t matter really and are looked at purely as an interchangeable resource. On a short term that might even be successful but I am not into this for the short term. I want to have a long-term impact and do something that I believe is worthwhile doing and that has a positive impact on clients, my firm, people and society in general. And that is where I felt that PwC really shines. A respectful culture, a group of very smart people that want to make a difference and a company that has the ability and the willingness to solve the hard problems.

This shows some aspects of my thoughts and why I changed to PwC. Obviously not everything will go as expected and not everything will work out perfectly and there are many challenges to solve. But I am in it for making a difference and we have very ambitious plans. So if you feel that my thoughts resonate – join me and ideally bring your team with you . We want to grow and have only just started this journey. If you are a security professional and/or cloud assurance specialist contact me through LinkedIn or Xing and let’s discuss it. I am looking forward hearing from you.

About the Author

Reto is partner at PwC Switzerland. He is leading the Cybersecurity practice and is member of PwC Digital Services leadership Team. He has over 15 years work experience in an information security and risk focused IT environment. Prior to working at PwC he was Microsoft's Chief Security Officer for Western Europe and also has work experience as group CIO, Chief Risk Officer, Technical Director and Program Manager.

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