The following interview with our Chief Information Security Officer, Ravinder Arora, was published in ET CIO on July 13th, 2021. Follow this link to view the original article.
Born and brought up in Palwal, Ravinder Arora completed his schooling at Adarsh Vidya Niketan school, Palwal. Arora’s father was a government employee who worked in the “education department” and his mother was a teacher. She has been a great source of motivation in his life.
“One thing which was taught to all of us (three siblings) by them is the fact that education is crucial in life”, he adds and says that because of those teachings they were all able to be well placed in their lives. Arora’s elder sister is a Government teacher and his younger brother works with a technology company. Arora has always been inspired by his father. His father has given him a mantra for which he aims to follow throughout his life- “Whatever you do, give your 100%. Success and failures are part of life. Don’t think much about it”.
His love for computers started when he was pursuing his graduation from Delhi University. “I remember I went to one of my cousins’ home and she was practicing some coding on her desktop. I was so fascinated with that machine that I wanted to bring it home. Being in a middle-class family, it was difficult to afford computers”, Arora adds. His father suggested he becomes a member of the British Library in Delhi where he can read all kinds of books as well as work on computers. Since that day, he went to the British Library and studied there for hours. He used to take the local train to come back to his house by evening. “I used to get up early in the morning, catch the local train to Delhi which was always occupied and full of people. Then I took the local bus from the station to the British Library. I had to follow the same routine in the evening to reach home. It used to get late, but I enjoyed that journey”, he exclaimed.
Most awarded CISO
Arora completed a diploma in strategic management from IIM Kashipur and is extremely passionate about learning and holds various Industry-accredited IT and Security certifications like CRISC, CISM, ITIL, CPISI, ISO 27001 LA, ISO 22301 LA, Diploma in Cyber Law, etc.
He has been awarded more than 80 awards in the last 7 years, including CISO of the Year (2 Times), Digital Security leader of the Year, Top Security Leader- 40 under 40, Icon of the industry among several others.
Arora has been associated with various communities, some of which are DCSI (Data Security Council of India), Teach for India, and more. He is a regular speaker at Cybersecurity conferences and many colleges. He motivates and helps students to build a future in the field of cybersecurity. He had also written more than 30 articles on cybersecurity, many of which were published in leading IT magazines.
Arora started his career as a trainer in a Computer Institute which was known as “STG” where he took computer hardware and networking classes for the students “I was only 21 and some students were even way older than me, but it was a good experience”, he mentions. After that, he joined CMS computers as a desktop support engineer and that was the time when his love for cybersecurity grew and took over. “I remember I used to install security updates, monitor Antivirus consoles and that was when I realized that computer security is one field that I want to make a career out of”, he explained. After that, he worked with various reputed organizations like Genpact, HP and IRIS Software, in different cybersecurity domains.
Currently, Arora is working as a Global Chief Information Security Officer for Infogain. “Cybersecurity is my passion and I live it every day. It is like fuel for me without which I cannot run”, Arora said. He considers working with Infogain as an important milestone in his career. “To work for a company like Infogain as a Global CISO is an amazing experience, primarily because of organization dynamic culture and the way the value systems are engraved”, he said.
Role model and Qualities for a successful leader
Swami Vivekananda is one of his major influencers and Arora considers him as a role model. “He is the energy; people are motivated by him. In all his life, he has said enlightened us with various inspirational quotes, but my favourite quotation is ‘Strength is Life, Weakness is Death’. It is real. Always be fearless”, he said.
On being asked about leadership qualities, he expressed that “Being a Leader, I always focus on the needs of the company along with the situation. In my opinion, great leaders focus on results, on what must be achieved by themselves, by others, and by the company. Leaders focus on strengths, strengths in them and in others”.
Personal and Professional challenges
“When I talk about personal challenges, being born and brought up in a small town like Palwal, I remember when I was in school, one never got many opportunities, good career advice etc. Individually, it was a challenge for me”, Arora talks about his personal challenge which he faced in his earlier days.
Professionally, when Arora was trying to change his job from being a trainer to working in the corporate world, he had failed in about 4 to 5 interviews. “Maybe since I was coming from a small town, I lacked confidence. I noticed this as I got nervous very frequently. I didn’t lack knowledge. I lacked confidence”, Arora said. One of his interviewers even asked him to look for work in his hometown as it will be very difficult for him to survive in this corporate world.
The personal front
Arora is a motorcycle enthusiast (Biker) and has always been keen to explore different locations on his Bike. His wife, who works with a Multinational company has been a tremendous support in his career and has always motivated him to achieve his goals. He loves to spend time with family and his twin daughters (Aamira and Aahana).
“My life objective is to reach the optimum personal and professional satisfaction. On a personal side, I want to dedicate a lot of time to my family so that I will be able to turn back every minute and moment of my life and recall the thousands of moments and memories that we all had together. On a professional side, my ambitions are not limited to job grades or specific positions; but I want to share my professional experiences with students and other people who are young and fresh in this field. In the long run, I would like to do something for the students in small towns to help them with the right technical education”, Arora said.