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Top 100 Interview: Bjørn R. Watne

Group CISO, Storebrand

Bjørn Watne started his InfoSec career in telecoms giant Telenor as a SecurityAnalyst in March 2001. Since September 2019 he’s been Senior Vice President and head of Group Security with financial services firm Storebrand. He has a computer science engineering degree from Agder University in Norway and has a master’s degree in business administration from ESCP Europe in France. Over the years he has held numerous board positions with professional associations and is a regular speaker at industry events.

What were your greatest achievements in 2020?

Would it be weird if I said staying sane? If you look back over the last 12 months, I think not losing your mind can be said to be quite a big win for anyone. The professional challenges have been new and numerous for all of us and included our personal lives on top of that. Most of our employees were used to working in teams and having that proximity and support from colleagues. This was quickly turned upside-down because of the pandemic, placing everyone at home with nothing but a virtual shoulder to cry on. Another challenge has been managing the numerous, external vendors and partners we rely upon for our operation. Not only have we been forced into a 100% digital relationship with them – they have all had to face the same internal challenges as we do. Still, we have been able to keep the business not just running – but thriving – throughout the past 12 months. I believe that is quite an achievement.

What long-lasting effects will the pandemic have on information security teams?

To be completely honest with you, I do not expect to be able to travel at all in 2021, so any audits will have to be virtual for the time being. Technical controls are thus becoming ever more important, and we will continue working on securing endpoints and also strengthening our infrastructure and our core systems. So, for example, we are enhancing, filters and artificial intelligence around electronic communications, like email and other digital collaboration tools. Not forgetting the human element, we will also launch a new security awareness program with modules that are tailored to the new ways of working.

Bjørn R. Watne is featured in our Top 100 Global Leaders in Information Security Report. Click here to read the full list.