CTO Sessions: Zeki Turedi, CrowdStrike

What is the biggest issue that you're helping customers with at the moment? “Fundamentally, our customers come to us to stop breaches, which will always be our core focus.”

IDGConnect_ctosessions_suppliedart_zekituredicrowdstrike_1200x800
CrowdStrike

Name: Zeki Turedi

Company: CrowdStrike

Job title: CTO, EMEA

Date started current role: August 2020

Location: London

Zeki Turedi, CTO - EMEA at CrowdStrike, an influential, tenacious and highly motivated cybersecurity leader with professional experience specialising in Endpoint and Network Cyber Security, as well as extensive Incident Response & Forensic knowledge within Law Enforcement and the private sector. Turedi acts as a trusted advisor and strategist for organisations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He focuses on assisting them to lower and manage cyber risk as well as build their cyber maturity and future. At CrowdStrike, Turedi also focuses on technology strategy and innovation reporting into the Worldwide Chief Technology Officer. Turedi's insights and subject matter expertise are frequently shared via media outlets such as the BBC, The Times, LBC, WIRED plus many others. He has also been published on several occasions including the journal on 'Issues in Cybercrime, Security and Digital Forensics'.

What was your first job? Working for myself as a graphic designer. I later got into web hosting and servers. It allowed me to learn many different skills, most importantly programming.

Did you always want to work in IT? Yes, I've predominantly worked in computing. I've spent a lot of time using computers to develop outcomes. This blossomed my interest in computer programming, essentially, making the graphics do exciting things. I've thoroughly enjoyed IT from the get-go.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I was predominantly self-taught for many parts of my career. I decided after college to go to university. I studied digital forensics and network security. It was essentially the first generation of cybersecurity and led nicely into my current career.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. From university, I got deeper into enjoying cybersecurity. One of the best things I did was taking a year internship, working for the local police authority in their high-tech crime unit. I was amongst some extremely intelligent individuals who spent a lot of their time teaching me about what they really enjoyed. My passion for this area definitely came from that experience. So, no. Not too many detours. 

What type of CTO are you? I think for us at CrowdStrike, everything we do is about making sure we deliver to our customers. So, for me, I am a customer-centric CTO. I want to make sure that whatever we're thinking about doing, whatever we're planning on, we're taking feedback from and listening to our customers. But, at the same time, we're spending a lot of time understanding their problems and coming up with a way to take our expertise and make their lives easier and better.

Which emerging technology are you most excited about the prospect of? I think, in the cybersecurity world, we have such a vast amount of new technology that can make things much more efficient. AI and machine learning are standouts. But what we're also doing at CrowdStrike is looking at old problems which we may have had difficulty solving and taking on a brand-new approach by using these new technologies. Our mission is to essentially, solve the unsolvable. 

Are there any technologies which you think are overhyped? Why? I think we're at a junction now where we may have realised that certain types of technologies may no longer be fit for purpose or need a massive evolution. This industry continually evolves , and we will always have new acronyms. We need to make sure to look past the naming conventions and remember the problems that we're trying to solve and ensure technologies are actually solving the problems we have in front of us. We will always see new products. Some will look cool and shiny but won't actually solve our real needs.

What is one unique initiative that you've employed over the last 12 months that you're really proud of? Something that CrowdStrike as a whole has really taken onboard and something that I'm making sure we're utilising as a part of our teams is internships. These helped me at the beginning of my own career and were some of the best things I ever did to give my career a head-start. It gave me the opportunity to learn a tonne and shape where I ended up today. So, I'm proud that we can replicate that in my company and within my own team.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? In everything that we do at CrowdStrike, we have to emphasise customer experience. As an organisation, we're all about putting the customer first and making sure we're building efficiencies in the long term. Our one core mission statement as an organisation is to stop breaches, and we will do anything possible to deliver on that promise. 

What is the biggest issue that you're helping customers with at the moment? Fundamentally, our customers come to us to stop breaches, which will always be our core focus. But, the security landscape is incredibly complex and ever-growing, so our second job is to minimise the scale and volume of IT and business risks and make the lives of our customers much, much easier. 

How do you align your technology use to meet business goals? This ties back into the previous questions. We spend a lot of time making sure our technology is built for our customers. We sit down with our customers of all shapes and sizes, maturity and understanding, not just with the most senior individuals but also with the analysts and engineers, understanding their goals, needs, risks and issues. It's a big piece of work and a lot of information to process. Every piece of data is vital, and the output of that is we can bring highly successful products to market.

Do you have any trouble matching product/service strategy with tech strategy? Not at all. It takes time doing that pre-work and making sure whatever we are designing, developing, and bringing to market continuously has a feedback loop into those customers, new and old. We also make sure that we can frequently reiterate, based on that feedback, and combine that with the expertise and great minds we have here at CrowdStrike. This means we can always bring to market something that our customers love - and this iterative process, and thus the resulting product, is ahead of our competitors from a market perspective.

What makes an effective tech strategy? Simply one that can actually be utilised straight away. Something tangible and effective - fitted to the reality of the situation.

What predictions do you have for the role of the CTO in the future? When you look into the cybersecurity market itself, we are dealing with a sophisticated ever-growing threat landscape and changes from a geopolitical perspective. It is an extremely fast-paced industry. We have to be decidedly agile while staying innovative all of the time. It's about making sure we can adapt to those changes, predict them, and drive that in our product development and overall tech strategy. Those that keep to these mantras will see the greatest success, in the long-term.

What has been your greatest career achievement? It's hard to say as it is continuously changing as we go. I've loved every single moment of it. I think being the regional CTO at CrowdStrike is my greatest achievement - giving me the chance to work with many talented individuals and experts across the cybersecurity field. 

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? No. I think there is always an opportunity to learn continuously, but I don't believe I'd want to do anything different, in hindsight.

What are you reading now? My normal repertoire of books is usually related to cyber or geopolitical policy. But, I'm currently reading a book called Traces: The Memoir of a Forensic Scientist and Criminal Investigator, by Patricia Wiltshire. It's about crime scene investigations and forensics, with reference to the traces the natural world always leaves.

Most people don't know that I… Am a big Hip-hop fan - Roots Manuva in particular.

In my spare time, I like to…Cook! I enjoy sourcing the right produce and spending time making up new concoctions in the kitchen.

Ask me to do anything but… I'm always open to new experiences and relish a challenge!