After the resounding success of the first Zurich-based Global Cyber Conference last year, there is already tremendous interest being shown in this year’s conference with eager anticipation to discover what will be the main focus of attention.
Once again, we are conducting a series of interviews with many of the principal speakers at this year’s event, and that includes the mastermind behind the entire Global Cyber Conference organisation, founder and CEO of the Swiss Cyber Institute, Samir Aliyev.
What many of you may not know is that last year’s event was the culmination of four years of organisation and brainstorming by Samir, which perhaps goes a long way to explaining why everything was so well received by participants and attendees alike.
It is also interesting to note that where the conference is concerned, there was all-around approval for the fact that as opposed to many other cybersecurity conferences, the Global Cyber Conference was free of all marketing and sales pitches and more importantly focused on knowledge transfer, premium networking, and collaboration.
So, in an interview with Samir Aliyev for this year’s event, let’s find out how he feels about last year’s conference and what we can expect this year.
You will have doubtless received tremendously positive feedback after 2022’s conference. What do you believe is the biggest takeaway for you from the event?
I have been both humbled and reassured by the quality of the feedback received after last year’s conference. For example, 97% of the attendees confirmed that they will attend this year’s conference, while 80% of those partners who supported the first event immediately expressed an interest in supporting this year’s one. Better still, all of those who spoke at last year’s conference have expressed a willingness to speak this year as well.
However, the aim of the conference isn’t just the dissemination of information. No. The intention is far greater than that, and last year was a very promising beginning.
My initial vision was to combine three pillars: education, community, and thought leadership, and provide the opportunity for leading experts to share best practices to function better, so a gathering of people from different industries who all have similar objectives will really help us build a sense of a secure community. Despite a growing awareness of cyber risks, decision-makers, and cyber experts are yet to become aligned in terms of prioritising cybersecurity at all levels of their business strategy and processes. Hosting a networking and learning platform for key cyber security decision-makers is important and will enable these stakeholders to gain a better and shared understanding of what needs to be done to strengthen cyber resilience in their organization as well as in society.
Last year’s themes were Digital Transformation, Secure Finance, and Banking, plus Human-centric Cyber Security. What are the themes for this year?
The main theme of the Global Cyber Conference in 2023 will be “Prioritising cyber resilience”. I feel this is a critical theme taking into account the current global threat landscape and recent developments not just involving Eastern Europe, but right across the globe. I feel cyber resilience is vital not just to avoid financial losses through cyber-attacks, but as a means for companies to implement and comply with industry regulations and standards. Cyber resilience also enables businesses to recover rapidly from a cyber attack.
The conference will additionally drill down on specific sub-themes, including Cyber Governance, Cyber Risk Management, and Cyber Technologies.
With one successful conference under your belt, have you found it easier to attract guest speakers this year?
Establishing such an event in the global conference agenda is a tough task on its own, but we have successfully managed to raise conference awareness and credibility with reference to key stakeholders, whether speakers, partners, or CISOs, both internationally and regionally. We started reaching out to speakers and partners at the end of November last year and the response received has been extremely encouraging as we already have confirmation of the participation of 20+ international and Swiss CISOS, business leaders, and policymakers. You can find an initial lineup on our Speakers website page.
Is there anything you are hoping to achieve this year that you didn’t achieve last year?
While building on our first edition’s strong speakers and conference program base, this year we are looking to provide enhanced value for money to all conference stakeholders and to further increase the number of senior-level attendees. We are expecting to increase the number of attendees overall to between 400 and 500 from 40 countries (compared to 280 from 25 countries in 2022). As a bonus, this year we will have two conference rooms with the Gallery having a capacity for 350 attendees and the Ballroom with a capacity of 200 at the Dolder Grand Hotel.
With the help of a jury of experts, we will be introducing the first Swiss CISO Awards, to recognise and honor the outstanding achievements of leading CISOs who are committing their careers to enhance information security within their respective businesses or organisations.
It only remains for me to say that our team has gained tremendous experience from last year, and we also have new partners on board to help us out such as White Rabbit Communication led by Milena Thalmann who will bring its storytelling skills to the conference and the Swiss CISO Awards project.