In June 2020, CyAN celebrates its 5th anniversary! Its President, Jean-Christophe Le Toquin, reflects on what proved to be an exciting but challenging journey.
“When a bunch of cybersecurity and cybercrime professionals gathered in Paris in 2015 to establish an international network that would reconcile these two disciplines, the chance this newborn organisation would be a lively child five years later was not that high.
We had to overcome two main obstacles, mental silos, and geographic irrelevance.
The first and biggest challenge was to combine people with hard skills and soft skills. Our concept was to make experts with hard skills to understand that they cannot make the world safer without people with the softer skills to translate, communicate, engage, mobilize the board and the community. Today, it sounds trivial that cybersecurity, privacy and cybercrime can’t be addressed separately, and that CISOs need to master the art of talking to the board. In 2015, that was not obvious.
The second challenge was to build an international network from Paris. As a Paris-born citizen, I love my city and my country, but I would be blindly arrogant if I were claiming that France was holding at that time a central place on the global cybersecurity map. Is it better now? We can confidently say that international tensions between USA and China have increased significantly, and this is why our strong Australian chapter means so much to CyAN today. Our two most robust communities are based in Australia and France, and our most committed members come from the Netherlands and Hungary. In total, we can count on 110 active members from 20 countries. CyAN appeals to a diverse audience on all continents; we passed the stress test of cultural diversity, yeeha!
We have learned that it’s excellent to want everything and more
Let me share with you one of my primary sources of anxiety when developing CyAN: our members had a pattern to expect that we would give them everything! We would help them to join a trusted local community and provide them with access to international opportunities. We would have fun but would deliver substantial knowledge. We would give our members some recognition (as we validate every application to join the network and say goodbye to inactive members). We would continuously explore new themes, ideas, and ways of collaborating.
Today I am not worried any more by these contradicting expectations. Why? Because our members are always right! Their aspirations are fair, and they show us the way to go : we have organized relaxed and informal social events in Sydney, Melbourne, Paris and Lille (at the FIC – International Cybersecurity Forum, which supports us), and we have combined our expertise based on professional trust with fun. We have to do more and better, but it’s comforting to see that our members are right. We simply have to listen and work hard to improve and deliver.
“It is not the road that is hard, but that hardship is the road”
Such a deep and mind-boggling sentence can’t be mine, it is from philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. It applies perfectly to what we are experiencing with our journey in CyAN: we are always struggling to improve what we do, we never see the end of the necessity to learn and test, in order to continue to grow. But when, once in while, we pause for a minute, we realize they are many dozens of people who invest in CyAN their valuable time, professional efforts, and a membership fee, year over year. There must be something good in what we do, right?
Growing, learning, testing, improving, trying again – that is probably a good definition of being alive.
This is the hardship and the road Kierkegaard is referring to.
Well, it may sound quite a humble ambition, but to me, building and gathering a community of professionals who share the same appetite for walking on the road together is a meaningful achievement in itself. On the road always.”
“In our turbulent, volatile times, with a fragmented cyberspace, CyAN’s international pool of experts and multidisciplinary approach help bridge the knowledge gap, navigate and break down complexity. Learning and growing, keeping abreast of the latest trends, while operating within the parameters of best practice. Being a member of CyAN as a consultant also means being part of a supportive community, breaking away from silos and thinking collaboratively about the bigger picture.” – Sarah Jane Mellor, Public Affairs and Strategic Communication consultant, member since 2018.
“As a board member I am very proud to see that CyAN has grown into a global organization in such a short time reflecting the working method of ” all for one, and one for all” and the multi-disciplinary attitude of “we are all different, but go by the the same professional values” – Dr. Greg Dzsinich, lawyer, Board member of CyAN and member since 2015.
“I am delighted to be part of this great international association of professionals from different sectors and disciplines that is CyAN. As a legal expert of this rewarding network, I have the opportunity to meet many other members from countries around the world. Actually, I am still strengthening my skills in matters of cybercrime and cybersecurity due to the multi-disciplinary approach based on a very wide panel of complementary experts. By joining CyAN, I have been selected as a French specialized lawyer in IP-IT for the “OCWAR-C Project” initiated by the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States on March 2019 for several years. The network of CyAN allows me undoubtedly to work on very concrete topics and to share interesting experiences with the other members”.- Corinne Thierache, Lawyer and member since 2015.
5 years already! I’m very honoured to be one of the founding members of CyAN. Structuring an idea, giving it a shape, allowing it to grow and flourish are moments of great satisfaction. We started from an observation, i.e. the necessary connection beyond our French borders of a transversal network, made up not only of specialists but also of volunteers interested in cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime. We were two, then a handful and now we cover a good part of our little blue planet. All together, we developed a solid and coherent international network. The work is not finished though: CyAN is still young and new members will enrich it, bring new lights and open new horizons. This is all the hopes I put in CyAN, i.e. that the network becomes a real perennial centre of reflection and exchanges. The post-Covid 19 crisis opens hopes for a different world. May CyAN play a leading role! – Christian Aghroum, Transition Manager and Cybersecurity Expert, founding member of CyAN.