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7 Questions on Leadership with Atif Ghauri


Name: Atif Ghauri


Title: President


Organisation: UltraViolet Cyber


Atif Ghauri is currently the President of UltraViolet Cyber, responsible for business strategy, go-to-market geographic expansion, and service delivery for the company. He is an established expert in Cybersecurity with 20+ years of experience, serving in multiple C-Level roles. Prior to UltraViolet Cyber, Atif was COO of Herjavec Group where he led the company through hyper growth driving all go-to-market activities. Atif also founded and grew the Cybersecurity practice as a Managing Partner at Mazars, and led all Product Security at Chief Product Security Officer are Comcast. Atif holds a patent for security analytics algorithms on embedded consumer devices, and has taught as an Adjunct Professor at University of Michigan, Drexel, Yeshiva, Rutgers, and Wharton. He graduated with a Masters in Technology Management from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Atif's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


Atif Ghauri is currently the President of UltraViolet Cyber, responsible for business strategy, go-to-market geographic expansion, and service delivery for the company. He is an established expert in Cybersecurity with 20+ years of experience, serving in multiple C-Level roles. Prior to UltraViolet Cyber, Atif was COO of Herjavec Group where he led the company through hyper growth driving all go-to-market activities. Atif also founded and grew the Cybersecurity practice as a Managing Partner at Mazars, and led all Product Security at Chief Product Security Officer are Comcast. Atif holds a patent for security analytics algorithms on embedded consumer devices, and has taught as an Adjunct Professor at University of Michigan, Drexel, Yeshiva, Rutgers, and Wharton. He graduated with a Masters in Technology Management from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.


2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


My first professional leadership opportunity came when I was 18 and started a small computer assembly and services business called AJ Connections with my best friend. While we had the same business model as Michael Dell and around the same time, we absolutely didn’t have his ambition to drop out of college and more importantly go big on selling to commercial customers.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


Simple – Think and attack deep work in the morning. Talk in the afternoon. Read and unplug at Night.

Many reasons for this. Your peak brain performance comes in the AM so unleash it deliberately on the hardest tasks. Further, learn to build boundaries from work in the evening. The new normal is laptop open after dinner, and I’ll argue the productivity you get is diminishing and the anxiety you get ascending. Having boundaries enables you to diffuse the drama of work with things you love like your family, a sport, a hobby, tv show, book etc for a few hours where you can release and rejuvenate for the next day.


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


Success is where preparation meets opportunity. I actually learned this from a great mentor of mine Greg Gnatt who was at the time a senior executive at IBM. He told me this at an alumni dinner event at Penn State, where I was lucky enough to sit next to him. He explained the importance of always being prepared. Opportunities are emerging all the time and it’s critical to do your part of putting in the work. Yes, that does mean putting in the work.


5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?


Deep Work by Cal Newport

Can’t say enough about Cal’s teaching. Profound. A few teasers for you to Google further on Cal’s work: “Scheduled Shutdown Complete”, “Deep Work”, “Time Block Planner”. I am with Cal on having a minimalistic social media presence and focused work day with self-imposed boundaries.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


Remember to say YES to everything until you turn 35 and then say NO to everything afterwards. Derek Sivers has great teachings on why but I’ll summarize to say that you are exposed to so much more when you say YES, and when you are early in your career this accelerates the time to uncover/develop your unique super powers as a professional. As you get older you say NO because you want to get more focused on what your super powers are and developing them to serve the world.


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


People always ask me how I met Robert Herjavec from ABC’s Shark Tank, which led to transformational period of my professional development.

I was running a cybersecurity program at Comcast in 2012 and got a call from a vendor that I bought a lot of software from. The vendor had someone cancel on a speaking slot to a group of high-net CISOs in Toronto at the exclusive Granite Country Club hosted by Robert Herjavec. My first question was, “who the heck is Robert Herjavec?” He responded by saying, “you know the guy from Shark Tank?”. I heard of Shark Tank because I’m a crazy Dallas Mavericks basketball fan and Mark Cuban is on the show. So I thought if I meet Robert maybe somehow I would meet Mark Cuban – and then I’ve accomplished all I need in life :)

I said yes, did the homework to prepare for the best speech of my life, and the rest is history. And yes, I met Mark twice actually, and cat had my tongue both times… so embarrassing. Robert still pokes fun at me for this until today.

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