#Infosec20: Resilience Required to Survive #COVID19 Pandemic, Says UBER CIO

Resilience and adaptability are key to organizations coming through the COVID-19 crisis, according to Uber CIO, Shobhana Ahluwalia, speaking at the Infosec Europe Virtual Conference. She described to the audience how the company has had to display perseverance and agility on a number of occasions during the last five years in order to be successful, and must continue this mindset in regard to the current crisis, which has caused unprecedented levels of damage to the business.

In the first phase of Uber’s recent journey, the company had to respond to its rapid growth across the world, such as in terms of technological capacity; in the second, it responded to and survived frequent criticisms about the company’s culture, ensuring the business adapted and continued in light of this negativity. In the third, the brand evolved to meet a changing environment in areas such as regulations throughout the world, and finally, the current COVID-19 crisis. Ahluwalia acknowledged that the latter of these is the toughest challenge of all, resulting in a large decline in revenue and the enforced laying off 20-25% of its staff.

She emphasised how the soft skills of resilience and perseverance are traits that trump all others at a time such as this: “Understanding, and coming to terms with instability, unfairness, and change being a constant in life no matter your station – that flexibility is key,” Ahluwalia noted.

In response to an audience question, Ahluwalia went on to describe the status and importance of cybersecurity personnel to Uber’s success: “In tech, security is the new noble job because you have to succeed every time at locking – you have to have a 100% success rate to protect the company and IP, as the attackers have to get through just once to succeed,” she said.

She also outlined her belief that a collaborative approach to security is one that needs to be employed across the sector: “Our teams have a lot of relationships in the industry where they work with several different organizations, which help us be secure. I believe security is one of those areas where we are stronger when we are together,” she stated.

Finally, the importance of mentorship for those working in the cybersecurity industry as they progress in their careers was strongly advised by Ahluwalia. In particular, she highlighted the female CIO group that she is part of.

She commented: “We meet every quarter and we have certain rituals like talking about something personal we are struggling with and something professional we are struggling with and there is so much outpouring of support from people who are doing the same thing or who might have struggled with it in the past.”

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