Mohamed Noordin Yusuff Marican, CISO at Circles.Life from an early age was hooked on the concept of cybersecurity. “It wasn’t even called cybersecurity back then, it was known as data security, IT security and information security. It wasn’t until more recently that the phrase cybersecurity came in.”
Spending his time as a teenager on his first computers fiddling with security tools such as password crackers and backdoor trojans, Noordin started his career journey as part of the Singapore police force. “I was responsible for protecting informational assets belonging to the Singapore police force.”
After five years in the police force, Noordin moved to the private sector, working at industry leading companies such as EY, Barclays, Qatar Petroleum, KPMG and NTUC Enterprise, before joining Circles.Life. “Joining Circles.Life has definitely allowed me to grow my abilities to become a senior leader and have conversations with founders and C-level executives. “Circles.Life is already and will be even more successful than it already is in time to come,” comments Noordin.
Expanding on his leadership role at Circles.Life, Noordin reflects on the essential traits needed to be an effective leader. “You need to be a good planner,” says Noordin. “Before you execute a strategy, you have to take time to plan. You also need to know the powers of delegation, when this is understood, you give autonomy to your team, and trust that they will do their job well. Personally, I do not like to micromanage, but if things should go south you need to be able to roll up your sleeves and be involved in the situation. I also believe it is important to have empathy. You need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your team members or stakeholders to see things from their point of view, taking a ‘more listening and less talking’ approach to understand the situation.”
When it comes to the teams that he builds, Noordin explains that the important traits he looks for are ownership and accountability. “These are the characteristics that I look for when I hire, taking ownership and being accountable is my recipe for creating my team. It's actually okay to make mistakes because that's how you grow, and by working as a team to synergise the strength of each team member to push forward, you can ultimately create a high performing and collaborative team.
Reflecting on the current COVID-19 pandemic, Noordin reiterates the need to have empathy in these uncertain times. “It is important to take into consideration the current out of the ordinary situations, with people working from home the environments are very different from the office. Leaders need to have empathy with that to ensure that we provide the right environment for our staff.” Noordin also adds that flexibility is also important, “Although we are working from home we need to achieve the same outcome that we would in the office. I'm not going to tell you how you use your time,” says Noordin, “but you need to be able to manage your time in order to achieve the desired outcomes.”
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“Our digital journeys need to be absolutely frictionless. We do have traditional channels as well. But our digital touchpoints – our apps, websites, and user interfaces – are critical to our success.”