5 Minutes With…Eugene Kaspersky, CEO, Kaspersky Lab

Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of Kaspersky Lab says he is eagerly waiting to go to space.

What will your company be focusing on this year?

We are concentrating on strategy differentiation through technology and innovation, and concentrating on our core competence – endpoint protection and security.

Are you concerned that the current volatile global economic climate will affect your strategy?

Not really, since as I see it we’re the “fifth essential element”. There’s oxygen, water, food, entertainment, and then security. Everyone needs all five. Even during the economic slowdown in 2008-2009 the IT security industry performed quite well.

This is because security is the last area where companies are willing to save money. You can cut your costs in personnel or other things but you always need to protect your business against cyber-threats.

We are confident about our prospects for the future. Of course, we can’t say that the financial woes around the world won’t affect us at all, but if they do, the effect will be minimal.

Will you be expanding into new territory?

Geographically there’s really no place for us to expand our activities around the globe. We have a broad network of local offices and partners in almost all countries from Australia to Zimbabwe. Instead of geographical expansion we are currently more focused on facilitating activities in the B2B market where we have very strong potential for growth. Undoubtedly, the company’s most valuable asset is the wealth of expertise it has gained over the years combating major IT threats, including malware research, counteracting potentially dangerous applications and developing traffic filters. All this has resulted in excellent performance in the B2C segment over the years. We expect to have the same degree of success in B2B too.

What will be the biggest challenges for UAE businesses in your sector in 2012?

The latest IDC report shows that CIOs are focusing on virtualisation and mobility in their industries. But with a focus on these two technologies comes increased risk. That’s why providing security for virtualised environments and mobile devices will be the most challenging factor this year.

Will you be hiring this year?

Kaspersky Lab is constantly growing. In the past ten years we’ve become a mature player in the IT security market. These days we don’t have a strong need to increase our human resources. However, we live in a changing business environment and would have to adapt to new realities as they arise. As for this year though, in January our head count exceeded 2300. Now it’s more than 2500.

What’s your leadership style?

One of my guiding principles is that, in order to manage a creative team optimally, one needs to control the ends – the results, not the means – or how to get there. No one likes to be bossed about. But if the team’s made up of true professionals, they know perfectly well what to do. I follow the example of Richard Branson on this. He looks real carefully for the needed people, and then takes them on; but if they can’t cope – they’re simply changed. The team is king.

What makes the perfect employee?

Our perfect employees are 100 per cent honest, 100 per cent professional, work round-the-clock and all year round, and aren’t paid a salary. These are our software robots.

As regards perfect human employees, well, they don’t exist, as everyone makes mistakes, and fair enough – no one’s perfect, we’re all human. However, the employee nearest of all to perfection is the one who both is passionate about his/her work and who has a strategic vision. This means that he/she can see potential for both personal growth and the company’s development in just about every single turn of events.

Define success in five words…

For me success is “to save the world – noticeably!” Everything else just funnels into doing that.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

To become a boss in our company one needs to not be afraid to take decisions, take responsibility for mistakes, but not to make the same mistake twice. All that in addition to lots of hard work!

Besides, I think that each and every person needs to choose for him/herself one of two routes in becoming a boss – either to become an administrative leader, or an expert in one’s field, even if it might not be such a senior position. To be boss takes either administrative mastery or mastery in one’s expert field.

When I’m not at work I like to…

Spend time with my family.

After that, I like to travel. I’ve made up a list of 100 places in the world I feel I really must see. I’m up to number 49. 51 still to go. What I’m looking forward to most of all is getting into space – as in, the cosmos! I’ve already bought my ticket. I’m just waiting for their call…