In the first appointment of it’s kind at F-Secure, long-time employee Janne Pirttilahti has been appointed to the company’s Board of Directors. The appointment comes after a brief but competitive internal election, where F-Secure employees at the company’s Finnish offices were invited to run for the nomination. Following Janne’s election by F-Secure Fellows, he was interviewed by the Board of Directors’ executive committee, then formally appointed at the Annual General Meeting.
I caught up with Janne to get his views on F-Secure, what the future holds for the company, and his thoughts on joining the Board.
What made you interested in applying to join the Board?
Well, there were two things that really motivated me to join. One is that I’ve been working at F-Secure for over a decade, and I’ve been a part of many different projects and departments during this time. So I have a pretty good breadth of experience to draw on. I know the company inside and out, and I think I can bring these insights to the board.
The second reason is that I see this as a good opportunity for me to grow and learn about a new aspect of the business. I’ve sat on boards before, but never with a company as large and prestigious as F-Secure. So I’m quite excited about this opportunity, and taking a new role to help the company.
So you’ve been working here for a while. How do you feel about the way the company has evolved during your time here?
We’ve done well. We’ve had healthy, consistent profits – pretty good for a company that’s been around as long as we have. And it’s one of the best places to work in Finland, and that’s something I’m quite proud to be a part of.
But I feel like we could grow faster than we have in the past. Everyday I’m here I feel amazed by the potential I see, and I think we can do a better job in capitalizing on this potential.
What kind of challenges do you see F-Secure having to overcome in the foreseeable future?
That’s an important question. One big challenge is becoming recognized as a one-stop shop for a company’s cyber security needs. We’ve traditionally excelled in providing endpoint protection and AV solutions, but now we’re expanding our portfolio so that we can offer customers more holistic solutions. We have the technology and capabilities to do this. And I believe we have the best solutions. But communicating this to customers and potential customers is difficult, so that’s one thing.
And we have many of the same challenges facing other business. Like I said before, we can grow faster than we have in the past. Especially now that companies are becoming more aware of the risks they’ll face as businesses become more digital. It’s an incredible opportunity, but we need to work hard and focus every single day to make sure we make the most of this.
Can you talk a bit more about cyber security as an industry? What do you think are the main issues facing the industry at the moment?
Well cyber threats are becoming more severe. Every other day you read about a data breach or big hack. Information is now less secure than ever. Even individuals who do a good job protecting themselves and their data are at risk, because attackers can focus their efforts on companies and organizations that store data about their customers. I don’t think your average person really spends too much time thinking about it like that, but events like the Ashley Madison hack show how attacks against companies can ruin the lives of consumers.
It’s interesting because it highlights the intersection between online privacy and online security. Privacy is a big topic and important to people, and there’s no bigger threat to privacy than using insecure technologies. Even if you’re secure and fairly responsible, you don’t know if the people and companies around you are. So it’s a big problem.
And technologies are always evolving, so the challenges aren’t going away. The IoT [Internet of Things] is a perfect example of this. It’s really hyped up at the moment, but everything will fall apart unless security becomes more than afterthought for the companies making IoT devices. Security is a need, not a want, and everyone needs to get on board with this idea if technology is going to improve our lives.
So your appointment to the board was somewhat unique, as you were first elected by F-Secure Fellows to be proposed as a board candidate. How do you feel this will impact your work with the board?
It’s true. It was unique process. But it’s important to understand that I’m a regular board member. I don’t have a special role or unique responsibilities.
However, I do think the fact that I am a long-time employee will make my voice unique. I suspect I can provide a fresh perspective on issues – one informed by my experience of actually participating in the day-to-day operations of the company. A view from the trenches, so to speak.