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Top 100 Interview: Robin Barnwell

Head of IT Security Strategy, Standard Bank

Robin Barnwell is a seasoned security strategist with over 15 years of experience leading teams across many security disciplines such as SecOps, risk, governance, architecture and strategy. In his current role as Head of Security Strategy for Standard Bank Group, he is responsible for developing and maturing the Cyber Security strategy across 27 countries, aligning security strategy to business value. He has degrees in computer science and statistics as well as several industry certifications.

What were your greatest achievements in 2020?

I think our greatest achievement in 2020 was that we launched a cybersecurity academy. There is a huge skill shortage in security, and we felt that we needed to do something about that. We created a formalized program within our organization to upskill our technology staff in cybersecurity. We started 2020 by graduating 75 technology staff that were now fully upskilled across the entire security landscape.

Over 2020, we hired 20% of those team members into the larger security team. It was amazing to see the energy that these new security staff members brought into the broader security team.

How will you drive your organization's cybersecurity strategy forward in 2021?

In 2021 we need to bridge the gap between risk management and data management. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been working on how to crystallize security and risk data back
into the organization. We operate across 27 different countries – that is quite a complicated environment – and we can’t rely on only human intelligence to understand where things are going wrong.

So, we need to start using machine learning, data intelligence and automation to start bridging the gap between risk management and data management and create more resilient systems overall.

This is an excerpt from the Top 100 Global Leaders in Information Security Report. Click here to read the full list.