Get to know Proofpoint's Emile Abou Saleh
Below all the corporate strategy and marketing rhetoric, what really makes Proofpoint's regional director tick
What’s your career history to date? How did you end up working in Dubai?
Once I completed my master’s degree in computer science, I began my career as a programmer. After a year, I moved into IT sales, joining the MIDIS Group in Qatar. I expected to only spend 3 to 4 years there and then go back to my native Lebanon; instead I moved to Dubai in 2006 and I have been in the Gulf for the past 18 years.
If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?
Proofpoint is investing heavily in training its channel partners on all technical aspects of our portfolio and ultimately help them become trusted advisors that are able to position the right set of solutions to help customers solve their cybersecurity challenges.
What product or technology should the channel watch out for this year?
Cybersecurity awareness training. Increasing employee awareness of the cyber threats they face daily is critical to their cybersecurity defense strategy.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
One of my proudest achievements was building a very strong, committed and overperforming team at my previous company and I very much look forward to replicating the same success at Proofpoint.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
As a sales professional, you have to be prepared for your customer meetings; this means asking the right questions to fully understand your customer’s pain points. Only then can you partner with them and propose a tailored solution that fits their unique needs.
The biggest challenge facing the Middle East channel is the same challenge facing all IT security vendors in the market: lack of skilled resources
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made since working in the IT market?
Thinking that recruiting high performing teams would be easy!
Which IT company, other than your own, do you most admire and why?
There are many IT companies that have made a name for themselves and grown their business globally. Palo Alto Networks and CyberArk, both Proofpoint partners, come to mind. On a personal level, I can’t help but admire Apple because they have forever changed the way we communicate and are at the top of their game as a top brand worldwide. As a matter of fact, it’s interesting to note that the top five most valuable brands in the world, according to Forbes, are all technology companies.
What is the biggest challenge facing the Middle East IT channel?
The biggest challenge facing the Middle East channel is the lack of the skilled resources. Much has been said about skills shortage across IT and security, and as the gap deepens, companies need to re-assess the types of profiles they need. Personality types play a large role when hiring in the cybersecurity industry. Say, if you are hiring threat researchers, you need applicants that display curiosity, creativity, and understand a system well enough to break it.
What’s your favourite thing about the company you work for?
Proofpoint is relentlessly focused on enabling organisations to safeguard their greatest risk—their people—by preventing, defending, and responding to threats across an ever-changing landscape. This people-centric approach to cybersecurity is unique and drives all product innovation across the business. Proofpoint reinvests 20% of its revenues in R&D, one of the highest rates in the industry.
What sort of interests do you have outside of work?
Outside of work, I like to spend time with my family and read.