Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Benelux CISO Community

Geert van Wauwe



Geert Van Wauwe is the Group Security Officer at Nokia and lives in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium, close to Antwerp. Geert worked in telecom throughout his career. He moved from R&D into security 12 years ago, and has been in his current role for the past three years.

Geert loves endurance sports, and since being a CSO in a large company can be pretty demanding, the best way for him to unwind is taking a long run or bike ride, away from all the screens.

Learn more about the Benelux CISO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

I always liked to combine a detailed understanding of the world with the broader view. After obtaining degrees in HW and SW engineering and finance, I started as an ASIC engineer in Alcatel, and gradually took on larger roles in product design and product roll out. 

In 2010, I started to look into emerging security risks and requirements in the product and cyber area. From discussions with the CIO, I decided to switch careers and became the cyber security team lead, which then evolved into my current role after we joined Nokia. 

I am responsible for both the cyber and the product security area, which are growing closer together with the evolution of telecom products toward SaaS offerings.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

It’s important to create an atmosphere of trust between people, both in your team and in the company overall. Based on that, you have to foster collaboration as true strength only comes when people work together toward common objectives. 

People will also take ownership and become leaders themselves only if you trust them. It sounds easier than it is and it takes time and continuous focus. But once it works, it creates enormous momentum.

What is the greatest challenge CISOs face today, and how are you addressing it?

Security and security risks are everywhere. You have to make sure that people at all levels in the company are aware of it, and understand how it impacts their decisions and everyday life. 

You have to equip people with the foundational understanding of security – and the reflex to reach out in those cases where it matters most. In-depth expertise is needed to properly assess the business risk and guide people to the best decision.

What is the key to success for someone just starting out as a CISO?

Your network in the company at all levels is key for success. You need the link to all functions in the company like R&D, HR, legal, finance, and also to customers and suppliers in order to know what goes on in the company. At the same time you need the connection to senior management, company leadership and the board. They can never understand the complexity of what you are dealing with so they have to trust you and your judgment.

It is also key to have the right level of business acumen so that you approach a complex situation from different angles, not just from a security point of view.

How do you measure success as a leader?

Success as a leader is measured by the success of your people and the success of your company. That matters much more than personal success in the long run.

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