Options: What is your job scope at Kaspersky?
Stephan Neumeier: I am the managing director for six regions across Asia, and I have general managers who report to me. I started with Kaspersky in June 2017. Since then, the company has undergone some restructuring; during which time our customers, as well as the industry, have changed a great deal.
What are some of your fastest-growing customer segments?
Some of the transformation I was tasked with was to develop the business in markets outside of end-consumers, which is still very important to us. The B2B segment has grown really fast — all the major investment in terms of products, services and solutions over the last two to three years are in this sector. We have customer engagements in segments where Kaspersky was not visible before. We support some countries with their state operating centres; we help clients like Siemens secure industrial environments; we help banks and financial institutions boost their secure operating systems with our threat intelligence reports — we have done a lot of work in the enterprise space than we did two years ago.
The nature of the business has changed a lot, hasn’t it?
The word cybersecurity is new; it used to be called IP security. Ours was mostly an anti-virus business and our engagements were on an IT administrator level. Today, when we look at our engagements with customers, [it is] at the C-suite level because it is one of the most important investments a company can make. When you talk to governments, it is interesting. I speak to ministries that are responsible for cybersecurity, we meet with prime ministers and presidents — we advise governments on their cybersecurity policies and that is a pretty big deal, I would say.
Do you work with the company’s founder Eugene Kaspersky a lot?
Yes, and he is very interesting. We have a lot in common — we like hiking and, recently, when we had a conference in Taiwan, we went hiking there. He also loves photography, so he took hundreds of pictures. He is also interested in racing, and one of the reasons why we sponsored the Ferrari Formula One Team is that he used to drive a Ferrari. The first talks we had before we became an F1 sponsor was with Richard Branson’s team, and he has since become a good friend. He introduced us to Ferrari nine years ago and the partnership came together very well. However, Virgin moved on to Formula E and we are currently a sponsor for the Envision Virgin Racing Formula E Team. Personally, another important activity for us is our support of the World Chess Championship. I am a passionate chess player, Eugene plays as well — I think the brand and the game of chess have many things in common. Chess may not be as popular as F1 but it is a very good match for us.
Do you see different generations responding differently to the internet and cybersecurity?
I remember having my first laptop when I was 21, and that things developed very quickly after that. I always upgrade things, and I was always on top of anything new and ahead of the curve. I was also always trying to influence everyone around me. I truly believe that if you have an open mind, you can pick up new technology fast.
This article first appeared on July 8, 2019 in The Edge Malaysia.