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“To avoid risk is to avoid progress.”: Rohit Ghai

It’s not every day that the founder of Dell Technologies comes knocking on your door for an opportunity. But that’s exactly what happened to current President of RSA Rohit Ghai when, ironically, he was pondering his next career steps a few years ago.

Rohit Ghai, President of RSA Security

“Hey, Michael Dell wants to speak to you,” he remembers hearing vividly from a phone call with former EMC Corporation CEO David Goulden.

This was around the time when EMC was acquired by Dell, making RSA part of the Dell Technologies family of brands. At the time, Rohit was a part of the EMC Federation of companies, running the content management division. There, he and his team had effectively turned around the company Documentum and sold it to OpenText.

This left Rohit wondering what would be next. He wasn’t left wondering for long. Dell presented him with an offer he couldn’t refuse. “He asked me to run RSA,” Rohit recalls.

“He knew I was highly experienced in the software space and had some cybersecurity background in my career. I looked at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead an iconic brand and company. It didn’t take me long to say yes and jump in with both feet, full of vigor and excitement.”

Rohit was appointed as RSA’s new president in January 2017, and he’s just as enthusiastic today as he was back then. “I’m proud of my work in getting everyone on the same page and out of the silos – optimizing for the whole, rather than the parts,” he shares. “Win as a team, win as one, right?”

With that success under his belt, Rohit now looks forward to honing in on the second part of his journey – market-focused innovation. “As we embrace more digital technologies, there are more vulnerabilities,” he explains.

“Cybersecurity and digital risk are top of mind and big-business issues. We are looking at reigniting market-focused innovation and reinventing ourselves in this space.”

The company’s first step? Redefining the ‘why’ of the cybersecurity industry. In the past, the focus has largely been of a defensive mindset, and it hasn’t been working.

For decades, the number of breaches and intrusions hasn’t really decreased. “We believe the new ‘why’ should be about enabling trust in the digital world,” Rohit says. “As the world adopts new technologies, they’re exposed to cyber traps from increasingly sophisticated predators around the globe.

Rohit Ghai, President of RSA Security

“We’ll never be able to avoid all threats, breaches or intrusions,” he continues. “The bad guys have all the same technologies that the good guys have. Assuming a technical approach will somehow tip the balance in your favor is, we believe, wishful thinking.”

“The bad guys have all the same technologies that the good guys have.”

Not one to bet it all on a shooting star, Rohit is taking a different approach. One that’s rooted in business. “Of course, we need to innovate on a technical basis, but we’re also adding in a business-driven tactic to the approach. That’s our advantage,” he shares.

“And, it’s what sets us apart in a very crowded market, where everyone else is only talking technology and speeds and feeds.”

However, making the switch from being a cybersecurity-focused company to a digital risk management company is going to take time and effort. Luckily, RSA is up to the task.

“We have the right to play because we have the competencies in Cybersecurity and Integrated Risk Management, which are essential to advise customers on digital risk,” he says.

The company has also created an ‘ecosystem approach’ with its 400-plus partnerships, including that with 2MC, a recognized leader in governance, risk and compliance (GRC) consulting, to help its customers navigate the cybersecurity and risk management space with ease.

Connect to protect

RSA hosts the largest cybersecurity conference in the world, called the RSA Conference. This hugely popular event – roughly 45,000 people attend each year – helps its customers make sense of the crowded, fragmented cybersecurity industry.

“A successful organization starts with the customer,” Rohit says. “This industry is very fragmented, and that’s a huge challenge for our customers. We recognized this and decided to take an ecosystem approach to bring them solutions via our partnerships from all different capacities. This way they are not having to deal with multiple shopfronts – and we handle everything behind the scenes.”

It’s just another way RSA continues to reshape the cybersecurity landscape and demonstrate tremendous leadership in the space it helped pioneer in the early 1980s.

With a strong dedication to internal resiliency and an innovative culture of learning, RSA has created a team that’s comfortable trying new things and embracing risk in this fast-moving industry.

“Risk is the very foundation of progress. To avoid risk is to avoid progress. You need to understand risk and figure out what risks are worth taking and which ones aren’t. It’s not about avoidance, it’s about managing risks,” he says.

“It’s going to take collaboration to win the game here. Digital risk management is a team sport – it requires collaboration with not just security teams but also with risk, IT and business teams. Our very collaborative learning culture is how we want to drive RSA forward to achieve the things we want to achieve.”

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