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Poppy Gustafsson (CEO/Founder, Darktrace) - Building A Billion Dollar Business: Managing Objectives Against Rapid Growth

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Poppy Gustafsson (CEO/Founder, Darktrace) - Building A Billion Dollar Business: Managing Objectives Against Rapid Growth

  1. 1. Poppy Gustafsson, CEO, Darktrace Building a Billion Dollar Business: Managing objectives against rapid growth
  2. 2. Headcount 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
  3. 3. Artificial Intelligence Attacks: Blend In

Editor's Notes

  • In just 5.5 years we’ve achieved some amazing things. Office number, operating all across the world, recently named the 9th fastest growing company by the FT.
  • We’ve grown at a particularly fast rate in the past 18 months, demonstrated by the rapid increase in headcount. We’re now over 800 employees – testament to our product and our way of operating as a business.
  • We are working with companies from all over the world, of all different sizes and across every industry vertical – we are not limited to a certain industry or ‘type’ of company.
  • We approach security in a different way to our competitors and don’t rely on signatures or the typical notion of ‘keeping the bad guys out’ – this is ultimately outdated and can’t provide accurate protection against the threat landscape.
  • We do something that is unlike any other vendor, and look at the human body for inspiration – we accept that bacteria may get in, but we have a great immune system that protects us from the inside – this same principle applies with the Darktrace technology, learning a sense of ‘self’ and detecting/remediating threats as they appear.
  • No right or wrong way to make a team and create good leadership – however the most important thing is to build your ‘A’ team. The people are ultimately more important than what kind of structure you have.
     
    Strong leadership is key – we have two CEO’s which bring different things to the table from a leadership perspective.
    Yourself – more financially based/affinity for numbers, good at leading the financial side of the business.
    Nicole – more from a marketing background and good at positioning the brand as a leader in the cyber security/AI space.
     
    Ultimately we play our different strengths, and this is instilled throughout the company.
     
    The right people in the right positions will bring about innovation and good business decisions. Eg- a junior sales rep who suggested doing one-month POV to distinguish Darktrace from competitors.

    We don’t hire a certain ‘type’ of person – we simply hire young people with a thirst for knowledge, enthusiasm, and energy. You can train people up – not everyone needs a PhD.
     
    You can create a unique culture across a company even if it’s global. How? People need to feel part of a team. Chinese new year example, those who celebrate.
  • Ambition is ultimately what keeps people on task. It is amazing what people can achieve when they are put outside of their comfort zone.
     
    People don’t always realise what they are capable of, until they are made to. If someone is good at something, this can always be taken one step further – the bar needs to be continually moving up.
     
    With heightened expectations, ambitious people will keep on delivering. The more people deliver, the more they will be willing to be pushed, both by themselves and by others. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.
     
    It is also equally important to always have an end goal. In our case, whether that’s closing a certain deal for a sales or producing a piece of content for marketing, important to know the effect you’re having on a company/how your work will benefit a certain aspect of the business.
  • Keep a tangible sense of pace at all times. What is important is to get things done. It doesn’t always have to be 100%, it just has to be done. You may always have the opportunity to correct things at a later stage.
     
    If you can get things done today, do it – don’t put off what you can do tomorrow if you can do it today.
     
    With such a fast growing business you have to accept that not every single task will be done perfectly, and sometimes (but not always!) completing the task on time takes precedence over completing the task to the absolute best of your ability.
     
    This helps to always create a sense of urgency within the business, underpinning everything, which continually drives people forward.
     
    People in a business must also feel like they are moving forward. There must be a sense of pressure to not rest on ones laurels, but that this pressure is ultimately productive and will lead to results and changes.
  • Challenge status quo slide (the road less travelled)


    You should always aim to be flexible – being adaptable really is key in a business. Having the agility to change things and the right mindset will get you further than having set focused targets.
     
    You have to always simply look to see what you can do to be better – that should be your overriding goal. We created autonomous response as an ‘add on’ for our technology because we saw a gap in the market.
     
    [Don’t know if this is too far, but there’s a nice analogy with AI. AI is flexible, self-learning, adaptable, it thrives in the unknown. We should be like that too]
     
    You need to have the right mindset to reach goals. This way, even if you miss your targets you already have the flexibility to move on and adapt to the situation.
     
    Missing your targets isn’t the be all and end all. It’s an opportunity to reflect and incite change where necessary, and is an important part of handling the growing pains associated with a rapidly expanding business.
  •  
    Technology has great potential. There is a lot of bad press around AI and killer robots, and how the future of technology is bleak, but technology will ultimately help us and will advance/progress society. With regard to cyber security landscape we will have no choice but to use AI – to rise to one of the most prolific challenges of our time, and we should embrace this challenge!
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