Ross Wilson - shared success beats a solo win

Use your common sense when it comes to Internet security. No point spending millions on security technology if your password is erm, "password". Sound advice, from 40-year-old Ross Wilson, senior regional director (SE Asia), Symantec.

Ross Wilson

Use your common sense when it comes to Internet security. No point spending millions on security technology if your password is erm, "password". Sound advice, from 40-year-old Ross Wilson, senior regional director (SE Asia), Symantec.

Can you share with us the contributions you've made to the IT industry?
In the world of Internet security, business awareness is every bit as important as technology. I think the most valuable aspect of Symantec's presence in SE Asia is the fact that we have local teams in the countries in which we do business. We understand that, although our technology is the best in the market, our clients also need a partner who understands their business, their culture and their needs.

Can you describe what's a typical workday like for you?
When I'm not traveling (I 'm usually out of Singapore for 1-2 weeks per month), I make a point of being in the office by 7.30am. This gives me 1.5 peaceful hours to get the "drudgery" (e-mails, reporting etc ...) done! After that I try to spend as much time as possible with the Symantec team and with our customers. We have a very informal management system here, and a lot of our work is done with the aid of large cups of coffee! I am a great believer in "face-time" - if I haven't sat with a customer and discussed business for a week, I'm not doing my job.

What helps you to sustain your passion for your job?
It's always new. I've been with Symantec for nearly 10 years, and I always joke that when I am starting to get bored, the company goes out and either gets me a new country or a new company to play with! Seriously, Symantec is extremely good at adapting to the market needs, and since the security market is one of the fastest changing, we are constantly looking to adapt and improve - it's like running a new business every day.

What are your core values when it comes to doing business?
Success is important, but never more important than people. Shared success tastes sweeter than a solo win. My parents have really shaped my views on wealth and success - I knew that if I were successful they would be happy for me, but that their support and love for me was not dependent on success. To me, success is a bonus - people are the real deal!

Is there anything you wouldn't compromise on when it comes to doing business?
I will not lie or cheat in business. If you try to be underhand, you will spend all your time checking that you have your stories straight! I'm too lazy to be deceitful!

How do you define success? Do you consider yourself to be successful?
I get up every morning and get to have a lot of fun doing a job I love and working with a lot of fun people ... and I get paid. If that's not successful, then it's good enough for me!

Any role model whom you look up to?
I'm a great believer in self-belief. I admire people who have the attitude " I can do anything". Stephen Hawkings is a good example, as is Steve Redgrave (the Olympic rower). I dislike people who promote their skills, talents and achievements - true strength is the ability to succeed quietly and with the minimum of fuss.

What is your proudest achievement so far?
There are three. Firstly managing to convince my wife, Lizzie, to marry me - that took four attempts! Then the birth of my son Luke and daughter Abigail.

Is there anything you would have done differently if given the choice?
No. Regrets are a waste of time. If you make a mistake, learn and move on.

What is your favorite form of relaxation?
I still play Rugby Union (a lot more slowly than I used to!) and I love watching the game too (especially when England wins!). I also love cooking, eating and fine wine (this will explain why I am a lot slower on the Rugby field than I used to be!). I also read voraciously - I usually have 2-3 books on the go at any one time. Until the arrival of Luke and Abi, my wife and I used to be avid divers ... as soon as the kids are old enough, I'll be back underwater.

Which in your opinion is the best place in Asia to hold a cosy business meeting?
Singapore to get things done. The Maldives to make the most of any free time from the meetings!

Which Web sites do you visit most often? What kind of books do you read?
Red Herring to check on stock prices. The Symantec Web site to keep in touch (and SARC - the Symantec antivirus research center to keep ahead of the game). The Daily Telegraph for UK news and Rugby results. I have extremely varied tastes in books, but at the moment I am reading "The Obedient Father" (I am very into modern Indian writers). "The Grits" which is like a Welsh "Trainspotting", "Cornucopia" which is a study of regional cuisine in the UK and "Genome" which is a study into the results and possible effects of the Human Genome Project.

Is there any one gadget you owned that you can't live without?
My Bose CD system - I love music and have to be able to play it loud!

Which gadget is on your most wanted list?
None really - maybe an MP3 player?

What are some of the Internet security issues that folks in the IT industry should be aware of?
There is no "security template" that can be laid over a market. Each company has different needs and threats. The most important thing is to be aware that there are dangers, and to ensure that any technology you use protects the assets that are important to you against realistic threats in a way that has minimum impact on the speed and efficiency at which you do business.

One final thing - use common sense. It is pointless spending millions of dollars on security technology if your password is "password" ... this is a lot more common than you may think.

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