Kaspersky’s HR leader puts prime on balance and humility

In this last part of our interview with Anastasia Shamgunova, Kaspersky’s HR Director (APAC, Japan, the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa), we asked her why she decided to head the people department of a cybersecurity company.

“It is different from other industries. I didn’t realise that before I joined. I find it exciting,” Shamgunova enthuses.

Shamgunova said that the IT and software industry is younger than Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), manufacturing, and others because the products and technologies came into everybody’s lives only a few decades ago.

“That means that this industry does not have much legacy, experience, and written-in-stone knowledge about how things are. People can afford it. Traditional financial institutions such as banks cannot (evolve and adapt as quickly) because they are heavily regulated and bound by strict tradition. They have to scrutinise every change to manage risks.

“Whereas, the software industry can be more agile. We have to be. If not, we are off the market very fast. In cybersecurity, you have to be proactive and reactive. We don’t know what the attackers are planning. We have to be alert at all times and open to all possibilities.”

“At the same time, we must be predictive and think a couple of steps ahead. We have these trends. How do we apply this in the future? Are there patterns that we are missing out on? How do we do it differently? These questions apply to all other aspects of life and HR, too. It is the kind of culture we need to have. It is the life we are living,” Shamgunova says.

As for her HR priority for Kaspersky, Shamgunova cites finding the balance between a multinational corporation (MNC) and having a bureaucratic framework to survive. She admits it is a constant challenge, but she manages. “It’s an ongoing process. Everything is transparent. People understand what and why we do it, and we’re compliant.

“But we cannot afford to be rigid. We still have to be agile and inquisitive. What else is there in the market? What are the new risks? These are the constant agile mindsets that are crucial to our organisation.”

Speaking of leadership challenges, she revealed that having humility is the hardest aspect of people management. By this, she means that the manager does not know everything. The HR director realises one must be humble enough to say, “I don’t know everything. Let’s talk and figure it out”.

“Be humble enough not to rush into it because you might be wrong. Your team’s answers might be better than yours. So even if you know, don’t rush in. Give them a chance to step up and learn.”

In making the virtual world a better place, Shamgunova seriously takes Kaspersky’s role in this. “We make this world safer. These are not just words. It is what we do. It resonates with my deepest values. It is our responsibility to make lives safer.”

Beyond the virtual world, Shamgunova said she still puts the human connection at the forefront.

“We do CSR on a big scale, starting with kindergarten children. We share about cyberbullying, how to protect kids online, and teach retired people how and what to do against cyber threats because they’re more vulnerable in technology orientation.

“It’s not about business. We do it because we feel responsible for all the communities,” Shamgunova concludes.

This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia’s exclusive interview with Anastasia Shamgunova, HR Director of Kaspersky (APAC, Japan, the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa). For further coverage please see the below link:

Anastasia Shamgunova guards Kaspersky’s virtual galaxy

Anastasia Shamgunova heads Kaspersky’s agile HR

Getting to know: Kaspersky’s Anastasia Shamgunova

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Chief of Staff Asia