Coding Policies, Decoding Cyberspace: Genie Sugene Gan’s Visionary Odyssey

In a rapidly evolving digital era, the role of government affairs and public policy in the realm of cybersecurity has become increasingly critical. This is because cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving and governments need to be able to adapt their policies accordingly.

At the forefront of this evolving realm of the Digital age is Genie Sugene Gan, an influential figure who has taken on the role of Head of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Asia-Pacific, Japan, Middle-East, Turkey, and Africa at Kaspersky. Her journey and contributions are emblematic of the transformational potential of leadership in the tech industry.

Genie’s influence in the tech industry is profound, marked by her dedication to cybersecurity, her commitment to empowering her team and her advocacy for women in tech. Her journey from diverse fields to becoming a prominent leader in government affairs and public policy reflects the industry’s evolving landscape.

Let’s delve into Genie’s trailblazing approach which has not only contributed to the growth of the cybersecurity industry but has also inspired a new generation of leaders to embrace challenges, push boundaries and drive positive change in the world of technology!

Diverse Threads, Singular Mission

As the Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Kaspersky, Genie navigates a multifaceted role that melds business acumen with intricate global dynamics. In her own words, “My role in Kaspersky as Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy requires me to have an appreciation of business objectives and the wider business environment.” Genie’s role is an orchestration of diverse elements, from shifting market demands to the influence of geopolitics and regulatory changes.

Drawing from her past experiences in business, government affairs and public policy, Genie brings a wealth of insight to her current position. Her background encompasses government service, a factor that has significantly broadened her perspective and network. “Having spent many years in government service expanded my horizon and my network globally,” she reveals. This extensive network places her in a unique position to engage with governments on a multilateral stage.

Genie’s approach involves applying together her past experiences, legal knowledge and understanding of government policies. This fusion allows her to provide a holistic approach to her role, where past expertise meets present challenges. “Applying all of my experience from the past and also my legal knowledge and my knowledge of how government policies are shaped… pieces everything together,” she notes.

From Policy Puzzles to Tech Triumphs

At the intersection of business, law and technology, Genie assumes a pivotal role in shaping cybersecurity policies. Her role encompasses a dual purpose, both outward-facing and internally strategic.

As a foremost advocate, Genie engages with governments, regulators and public institutions to forge policies that resonate with the technological landscape. She explains, “As an advocate, I speak with governments and regulators, and public institutions to try to see how we can sometimes shape these policies together.” Her diverse experiences lend her insights that span beyond borders, amplifying her influence in these dialogues.

Yet, advocacy is just one facet of Genie’s multifaceted role. Building trust emerges as a central pillar. “My primary responsibility really is to, first of all, develop that trusted relationship with all of these institutional stakeholders,” she asserts. Her ability to foster trust sets the stage for constructive engagement with governments and regulators, furthering Kaspersky’s interests and cybersecurity initiatives.

Genie’s strategic prowess extends to aligning Kaspersky’s business realities with public policy strategies across regions. She underscores, “I really need to be very sensitive to Kaspersky’s business reality and be able to align our business and communications with public policy strategies within the regions that I’m responsible for.” This alignment resonates in the public affairs realm and reverberates in the pursuit of advocating impactful policy positions and strategies.

Cyberpolicy Diplomacy in a Digital Age

With a career spanning nearly two decades, Genie reflects on the ever-evolving landscape of global cybersecurity regulations and collaborations. In her candid words, “It’s almost two decades now, the landscape of global cybersecurity regulations and collaborations has been so complex and has been constantly evolving. It’s literally difficult to keep up with it.”

Amid this complexity, Genie’s approach is grounded in a blend of vigilance and adaptability. “It is important to really work hard at understanding my subject matter at all times across all countries and jurisdictions that I’m responsible for,” she shares. This steadfast understanding arms her with the knowledge necessary to navigate the intricate cybersecurity domain.

Identifying industry trends is paramount in this endeavor. “Keeping and identifying these industry trends is important so that I know constantly the environment that we are operating in,” she emphasizes. Genie’s role extends beyond Kaspersky, involving participation in industry committees and working groups, affording her a panoramic view of the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

Genie’s experience in negotiation, international relations, and diplomacy shapes her collaborative approach. “Being open-minded and really letting others help and give feedback also makes it easier,” she affirms. This collaborative spirit is essential in an environment where public-private partnerships are pivotal. Drawing from her repertoire of skills, Genie crafts strategies that harmonize the needs of governments, institutions and businesses while ensuring national security concerns are addressed.

She incorporates the ‘three Cs’: communication, collaboration and composure. “You may sometimes find yourselves working with difficult partners, difficult players in the industry and there is a need to maintain that composure and deal calmly with a range of obstacles and challenges,” she elucidates. Her wisdom, accrued over close-to-two decades, continues to guide Kaspersky and the industry through the intricate maze of global tech and cybersecurity regulations.

Commitment to Cybersecurity, Collaboration, and Transparency

In the dynamic realm of cybersecurity, Kaspersky stands at the forefront, diligently upholding its commitment to safeguarding digital landscapes. Genie, Head of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Asia-Pacific, Japan, Middle-East, Turkey, and Africa, sheds light on the pivotal role Kaspersky plays in collaborating with governments and international law enforcement agencies to combat cybercrime.

Genie aptly encapsulates Kaspersky’s pace, stating, “Kaspersky is moving at a very fast, consistent, and conscientious pace, at the forefront of cybersecurity.” The company regularly engages with governments and law enforcement agencies, receiving requests that align with its mission. These requests, as Genie puts it, encompass “non-personal technical information-IOCs, indicators of compromise, information about the modus operandi of cyber attackers,” all pivotal in investigating and countering cyber threats.

Collaboration extends to partnerships with esteemed organizations like Interpol. Genie reveals that Kaspersky signed a cooperation agreement with Interpol, a testament to its commitment to global cybersecurity. This collaboration involves not only providing threat intelligence data but also human resource support and training to bolster global efforts against transboundary cybercrime.

Central to Kaspersky’s approach is transparency, a hallmark of its endeavours. Genie delves into the company’s Global Transparency Initiative (GTI), which serves as a guiding compass for its actions. “The GTI basically includes concrete measures to not only verify and validate the trustworthiness of Kaspersky products but also acts as sort of an invitation for third parties to join in our efforts to enhance the transparency and effectiveness of the cybersecurity industry,” she explains.

While Kaspersky actively collaborates with law enforcement agencies, Genie underlines the importance of maintaining a balance that preserves user security and privacy. Guided by its commitment to transparency and responsibility, Kaspersky’s efforts harmonize the needs of security, law enforcement and user protection.

From Expert to Advocate

Genie is a prominent advocate in the realm of cybersecurity and orchestrates impactful efforts that resonate across the entire tech landscape. Operating at what she dubs the “uppermost funnel of the supply chain,” her influence radiates from the governmental corridors where regulations and partnerships take root.

As Genie underscores, “the business environment is highly dependent on the regulatory environment,” emphasizing the pivotal role of cooperation and partnership. Her words echo a commitment to genuine collaboration, not just between businesses and governments (B2G) but also on a broader governmental level (G2G). This ethos extends regionally and internationally, bridging countries and nurturing relationships within the cybersecurity industry.

With a finger on the pulse of evolving discussions, Genie recognizes the conversations weaving through regional and international multilateral institutions. Opportunities for expansion abound, both horizontally, fostering ties between nations and vertically, bridging the divide between governments and businesses. These dialogues not only encompass cybersecurity but branch into pressing topics like data transfer, digital transformation, and AI regulations.

Genie’s insights extend to the intricate web of the tech industry, where cybersecurity forms the bedrock. As she articulates, “Cybersecurity literally is the one subsector that’s underlining and underscoring all of these other subsectors to ensure that they continue to be able to operate effectively and efficiently.” Her voice emerges as a beacon, not just as a thought leader, but as a fervent advocate who galvanizes discussions and initiatives that resonate with industry insiders and governmental figures alike.

Leading the Way

In the world of business, the term “culture of innovation” holds immense significance and Genie fully embraces this ethos. To her, innovation can’t simply be mandated from the top; it must be woven into the fabric of an organization as a nurturing culture. “Leaders need to nurture innovation as a mindset, as a way of doing things and as an approach throughout the entire company,” she affirms.

Genie’s leadership style centers on empowerment—a value she holds dear. She strives to foster an environment where her team feels not just heard, but empowered to contribute their unique perspectives. She aptly compares this to a parent-child relationship, acknowledging that occasionally loosening the reins might lead to bumps, but it’s the only way to let true innovation flourish. “Empowerment is really important, rather than micromanaging,” she points out.

In her role as a leader, Genie understands the significance of growth. “From the first day you work with me to the last day you work with me, I hope you have become more empowered as a person, you’ve grown as a professional,” she tells her team, emphasizing their personal and professional evolution under her guidance.

A collaborative approach is her cornerstone, starting within the team itself. Genie believes that effective internal interactions set the stage for seamless collaboration with customers and external stakeholders. This collaborative culture doesn’t just facilitate communication, it sparks innovation. By encouraging her team to share their insights and execute their ideas, she paves the way for improved operations, enhanced services and more dynamic teamwork.

With her gaze fixed on the horizon, Genie envisions a harmonious synergy between empowered employees and engaged stakeholders. Her philosophy transcends traditional leadership, nurturing a culture where innovation and collaboration converge—a culture that resonates with customers and clients alike. In Genie’s world, empowerment and collaboration are the guiding stars that illuminate the path to organizational excellence.

From Vision to Vanguard

In the realm of cybersecurity, a persistent topic of concern echoes across international discussions—the widening gap in skills and talent. Genie, a key figure in the cybersecurity landscape, understands this challenge intimately and is resolute in addressing it head-on.

Drawing a crucial distinction, Genie identifies two distinct yet interconnected aspects: capacity building and capability building. These elements hold immense significance in fortifying a nation’s cybersecurity prowess, a mission that Kaspersky, the organization she represents, is fervently engaged in. “We’re a really full spectrum kind of company,” she notes, underscoring Kaspersky’s comprehensive approach encompassing prevention, detection, incident response, threat intelligence research, and more.

Genie’s role extends beyond a corporate outlook, it’s about aligning resources and expertise to assist countries in bolstering their cybersecurity potential. Governments, cognizant of Kaspersky’s multifaceted competence, often seek her guidance. She reveals, “They often approach me to have that kind of conversation.” This cooperative effort involves pinpointing gaps in a nation’s infrastructure and skills, acknowledging that certain regions face a drain of talent due to various factors.

Genie’s recent trip to Turkey shed light on the gravity of this issue. Stakeholders shared concerns over a noticeable talent outflow from the country, prompted by economic constraints and better opportunities abroad. This depletion translates to a glaring gap in both talent supply and skill readiness across numerous nations.

The complexity of cybersecurity compounds the situation. Universities worldwide are only just beginning to offer specialized cybersecurity programs. “Cybersecurity is a specialized set of skills that requires specialized training and education,” Genie explains. Although some universities now offer dedicated bachelor’s programs in cybersecurity, nurturing these talents from education to workforce readiness is a gradual process.

In her capacity, Genie navigates intricate dialogues with governments and institutions. Tailoring solutions to fit each country’s unique circumstances, she’s keen on identifying gaps and blind spots, urging the industry’s advancement through advocacy and strategic partnerships. Nonetheless, these conversations are far from simple. “These conversations tend to be complex as well. And highly customized,” Genie reflects.

With a dedicated vision, Genie is not merely addressing the cybersecurity skills gap, she’s shaping the industry’s future. Guided by Kaspersky’s multidimensional expertise and her own commitment, she tackles a challenge that reverberates across borders—a challenge that demands collaboration, innovation and a shared commitment to secure digital landscapes for all.

Bequeathing Wisdom: Breaking Boundaries and Challenging Norms

As we delve into the dynamic realm of public policy, regulations and tech industry development, Genie, a remarkable figure at Kaspersky, invites us to shift focus towards a topic dear to her heart—the pivotal role of women in technology. With fervent advocacy, she champions the cause of women’s inclusion and advancement in a field that has traditionally skewed towards male.

Genie’s perspective on this matter is not just aspirational, it’s about transforming aspirations into tangible reality. “More needs to be spoken about this topic,” she urges. The tech landscape, both locally and globally, remains predominantly male-dominated, but Genie is resolute in her belief that gender should never be a barrier to entry. At Kaspersky, she stands among numerous women leaders and researchers who are making their mark. The organization’s workforce boasts a commendable 26% female representation, a figure that outshines industry averages.

Embracing diversity, Genie emphasizes that gender should not limit one’s aspirations and her journey exemplifies this ethos. Beyond gender, she underscores the importance of addressing age-related barriers, challenging the notion that it’s ever too late for a career switch. “Age is not a barrier,” Genie asserts. Her own story—a transition from law and government service to tech, amid the challenges of the pandemic—stands as a testament to the potential for successful mid-career transitions.

For those who may lack a conventional tech background, Genie dispels the myth that qualifications define one’s potential. Reflecting on her own journey, she affirms, “Qualifications, or rather the lack thereof, is not a barrier.” Her approach centers on a passion for learning and rapid adaptation, serving as a beacon of hope for those aspiring to enter the tech industry without a traditional foundation.

Genie’s advocacy is more than a narrative, it’s a call to action. Her story amplifies the voices of women in tech, mid-career switchers and those who are passionate about learning and evolving. Through her experiences, she seeks to embolden individuals to challenge norms, break barriers and join the journey of reshaping the tech landscape into one that embraces diversity and empowers all.

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