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Federico Charosky is a risk and cyber security expert with a career spanning more than 20 years. He currently leads Quorum Cyber as its Founder and CEO. Quorum Cyber, a UK-based cyber security firm, and here he tells Business Matters the motivation behind the company.
What do you do at Quorum Cyber?
My role is very much setting the company’s strategic direction, and I’m also still very involved in the innovation side of things. Alongside my executive team, I’m also taking up a more global role now that we’re firmly established in both the UK and North America.
What is the inspiration behind Quorum Cyber?
I’ve always had a strong sense of justice and have been attracted to doing something worthwhile, and wanted to work in a field where I could stand up and be proud of what I do.
Looking back, I think a lot of my inspiration comes from my childhood. I grew up in a typical middle class Argentinian family – my family was very loving but I was badly bullied at school, as I was the chubby geek who didn’t play football(!).
My natural reaction was to hide in things where I felt safe. I hid in computers and gaming. In games, I would always play the honourable hero, the one fighting injustice. When it came to setting up Quorum Cyber, what I realised was that I was using the powers that I had to fight injustice on behalf of others. I saw an opportunity to help unprotected companies that were being bullied like I had been – to stand against threats that are challenging the way of life of these organizations.
Who do you admire?
I think it’s outstanding what Yvon Chouinard has achieved with Patagonia. I’m so impressed by how they’ve maintained a sense of why they are doing what they are doing. Ultimately, they sell clothes, but the way they present their business and its sense of purpose gives consumers a reason to buy Patagonia products rather than those of their competitors.
I also really admire the business author and speaker Simon Sinek. He talks about how some companies go ‘from the outside in’: they start with what they sell and how to sell it, and the ‘why’ gets completely forgotten. Other companies, he says, start with the ‘why’ and go from there. This philosophy has been fundamental to our approach at Quorum Cyber: we spend a lot of time reflecting on our purpose.
What defines your way of doing business?
A key part of our ethos is to work ethically, full of integrity and authenticity: we want to be disciplined and consistent as we look to grow with purpose. If that means it takes us longer to meet our growth objectives, then I’m OK with that. The way we go about the journey is more important than the destination.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
I say this a lot, but I have never had anything more fulfilling than this job. I go around doing things I love, growing things and fighting incredible battles with incredible people for good causes.
Mainly, I would tell everyone just to do it. There’s a perception of needing to have all the right resources at your disposal. But that’s not true. I’m a middle class Argentinian kid playing in a field in the UK that is completely outside any of the things I was given at birth. None of that matters – just go at it, go strong and be aware and honest with yourself about the costs of the journey.
That’s not to say everybody should do this. You need to be happy to live in a world of uncertainty and find it exciting. If uncertainty doesn’t feel like fuel, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes and no. Looking back, I have always worked with the data I have at any given moment, so I tend not to dwell on retrospective regrets. I firmly believe we always do the best we can with the data we have. The question I usually ask is ‘if you had a time machine and you could speak to yourself ten years ago, what would you tell yourself?’
I think I would have liked to be more aware of the really difficult parts of the role. It can be challenging managing a business which is expanding so quickly; ensuring that the culture and the messages stay the same even whilst other elements of the business are scaling up and changing.