Leaders’ Insights: Alan Calder, IT Governance

6 Apr 2017

Alan Calder, founder of IT Governance and cybersecurity guru. Image: IT Governance

Alan Calder is the founder and executive chairman of IT Governance.

As a renowned expert on cybersecurity, Alan Calder has penned a raft of books on the subject of IT governance, infosec and compliance.

Before founding IT Governance in 2002, Calder was CEO of numerous organisations, including Wide Learning and Focus Central London.

Calder is also an accomplished speaker on cyber resilience and related issues, contributing to various summits and conferences throughout the years.

Describe your role and what you do.

I’m the founder; that means the core vision of what we’re trying to achieve is mine and I therefore have to work to ensure that everyone in our fast-growing business understands that vision and lives with our ethos.

I’m also the CEO, which means I’m responsible for both the strategic and the day-to-day aspects of operationalising that vision. For completeness, I chair the board, which means that I’m responsible for our own governance. I’m not necessarily equally good at all aspects of the role!

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

Working days are consumed by dealing with the day-to-day issues – those that fall into the urgent and important category. Travel time, evenings and weekends provide time for longer-term considerations, for strategic problem solving and for further product and service development.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

We’re in the early stages of what should be an extremely fast scale-up of the company, with revenues growing quickly across all our business areas. Our primary challenge is finding the new people we need fast enough; our secondary challenge is ensuring that growing numbers of joiners are able to learn and live our culture.

At the same time, our processes and systems have to evolve quickly enough to cope with the scaling up of our activity. Processes that worked perfectly well at one level of sales tend to fall over when sales double.

What are the key industry opportunities youre capitalising on?

The world’s media have been headlining cybersecurity stories for a few years and, suddenly, organisations have begun deciding that cyber resilience action really is necessary. That drives rapidly increasing business across all our areas.

More than that, the imminent arrival of GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] is at the heart of our overall growth. Every organisation in the EU has to be in compliance with GDPR by 25 May 2018 and, for most, the compliance journey requires them to draw on our range of products and services. The investment in compliance is way lower than the possible costs and fines that would arise from a data breach.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

I led the first organisation that was certified to what is now ISO 27001. I wrote a book on how any organisation could do what we did, and that led to the foundation of the company, keeping information security at the heart of everything we do.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I hope I have already made my biggest mistake but paranoia suggests it might still be somewhere ahead of me. I’m reminded of the explanation for the origin of good judgement experience, which comes from bad judgement.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Do I?

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and whats needed to effect change?

We can only employ from the pool of people looking for roles. Brexit is likely to decrease diversity in the same way that it is likely to decrease the recruitment pool for STEM businesses.

Who is your business hero and why?

I have no heroes.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Up the Organization [by Robert Townsend].

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Outlook email and Calendar, on laptop and Blackberry.

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