It's a war out there
Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Marissa Jaggan and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Mark Ruiter's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Javier Leonor made in his life? Through a series of portraits, we answer these questions and introduce you to our people: those who make Accenture the thriving company that it is.
Introducing Joe Shenouda, Former Associate Director of Security at Accenture.
This is the portrait of Joe Shenouda, alumni of Accenture and former Associate Director at Security within Accenture Technology.
As a nine-year old, Joe Shenouda was a “script kiddie”: someone inexperienced (often children) who uses existing scripts and codes to hack into computer systems and networks. When he one day found himself with access to the Indonesian United Nations network, he began to comprehend the true potential impact – and dangers – of hacking. He realized then and there that he had found his future career.
‘The world of cybersecurity has always fascinated me. That said, back when I was a script kiddie, the security landscape was still ding-dong ditch when you compare it to the Wild West that the web is these days. Everyone is trying to trick everyone else out of information: stealing blueprints for machinery and gathering as much data about people as they possibly can. It’s a war out there. Why do I love working in a warzone? As a curious nine-year-old hacker, I already had enough insight to know that I could use my technical skills in one of two ways: to do good or to do bad. I chose the first route: to utilize my knowledge to help individuals, companies and governments to help better protect themselves.’
Towards becoming a market leader
‘When I was asked to take on the role of Director of Security at Accenture Techology earlier this year, I was still working for Verizon. In all honesty, I didn’t really know too much about the company. I was intrigued when I found out how big it actually is. But at the same time, I was also slightly puzzled: ‘How can an organization that has offices all over the world, ample technology and know-how, and so many skilled people onboard, not be an authority in the cybersecurity space yet?’ One of my biggest drivers today is the fact that Accenture has the potential to become a market leader and I, as a director, can help move the organization in that direction.
‘This past half year has been interesting for many reasons. I’ve come to realize how powerful it is when a company genuinely values you and gives you the freedom to dream and to chase those dreams. Not only does Accenture make room for this, but it also strongly encourages employees to think big. It asks, “Do you have an idea about how we can make the world a better, safer place?” and responds with, “Bring it on and we’ll make it happen” That’s how it works here. Having the chance to work for such a large, influential company makes me believe that we can truly have a huge impact in the world of cybersecurity.’
"As a curious nine-year-old hacker, I already had enough insight to know that I could use my technical skills in one of two ways: to do good or to do bad. I chose the first route."
Warning the world
‘Sending out warnings to the world is extremely important. After all, it’s a cat-and-mouse game between us and the hackers. The only way we can win is to beat them to it. And it’s made all the more complicated by the fact that there are new developments in this space every day. In this industry, we just can’t afford to find something out too late, or to not know something at all. It’s one of the reasons why, in late 2018, I launched Cyber-consult.org, a website that automatically refreshes every five minutes and draws in all the latest cybersecurity news.’
‘As I work in such a dynamic, fast-paced environment that sees one developments happen after another, it’s very important that I switch off completely from time to time. For me, my garden is my number one place to unplug. I started gardening, as one of my many hobbies, about five years ago. I needed a place to go away from computer screens, outside of the technical world, where my brain and eyes could wind down. What started out as a simple attempt to brighten up my own back and front yards evolved into a true passion over the years. Now we have an inside garden too, and I have strategically planted our outside garden so that it blooms all year round, through all four seasons, which I absolutely love.’
Meet the Security team within Accenture Technology!
Michael Teichmann, Managing Director
"One challenging aspect of cybersecurity is that there is no standardized solution to a problem."
A philosophical take on gardening
‘For me, gardening offers much more value than just a pretty sight. Learning about plants and flowers has taught me a lot about life itself. That might sound overly philosophical, but I’ve found that by figuring out what plants and flowers need to stay alive and by watching how they grow, I’ve learned a lot about the world and how it evolves. I find that when I step out of my office and into the garden, I transition from a robot into a human being again. I never knew that cutting basil could be so soothing! If I ever were to give up my job in cybersecurity, there’s no doubt in my mind that gardening would be my new pursuit.’
‘The truth is, though, it’s not often that I can switch off entirely. Working in this industry means you’re virtually always on standby. If a computer virus outbreak occurs, we need to make ourselves available. Last year, there were two major outbreaks and they both kept me busy for whole weekends at a time. Unfortunately, those weekends coincided with Valentine's Day and Mother’s Day. Luckily, my wife, Mira, is extremely supportive and she just lets me “be”, even though “being” sometimes means that my family doesn’t get to see me for many consecutive hours or even days, because daddy is glued to his computer. The fact that I work from home makes a big difference, because at least it means I’m physically present most of the time. Over the years I’ve learned how to better manage my time, and how to break the day up into chunks. I can work for a solid two hours and then take a break. I switch off my laptop (but not my phone), close the door and go for a walk, spend some time in my garden or play with my daughters. I’ve made it a priority to maintain that balance.’
Joe Shenouda (1980)
Studied: Law, Tilburg University (2004)
Started working at Accenture: May 2019
Relationship status: Married to Mira, father to Ellenoor (5) and Marcella (10)
Loves: High-energy people that value love
Gets annoyed by: People who refuse to take responsibility for their actions
Favorite food: Sushi
On my nightstand: The Bible. I consider my relationship with God to be one of the most important things in life
Listens to: An eclectic mix of classical music, hardstyle, rap and reggae, all in one playlist
Last purchase: DNA tests for my wife and me. It was extremely interesting and surprising to find out more about our families’ roots, tracing back hundreds of years
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Queen Maxima. We honestly have the most beautiful and intelligent queen in the world.
Life-changing event: Initiating my relationship with God as my loving, heavenly father in 2015
The best lesson life has taught me: Love is everything. If we don’t have love, we have nothing
What I learned recently: That being a good leader means not only supporting my team to do their jobs well, but also genuinely connecting with them. I need to know what’s going on in their lives and why they do what they do
Most beautiful place on earth: Home, with Mira and our daughters
Hobbies/passions: Gardening and cars (especially self-driving cars)
What nobody knows about me: That I’m a musical person and actually play the piano very well
Life motto: Experiencing love is what life is all about. Anything that’s not love is, by default, not good for us.
Meet more of our Security team within Accenture Technology!
Floris den Dool, Managing Director
"It’s been amazing to witness this growth and see how we’ve managed to put security on the map."
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