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Former SAP executive readies to roll with Check Point in Africa

Former SAP executive readies to roll with Check Point in Africa

The now former SAP executive Pankaj Bhula was recently head-hunted by global cyber security solutions provider Check Point and in August 2019 appointed as the company's regional director for Africa.

He has over 25 years' experience in the IT sector, both locally and internationally, working for the likes of IBM, Dimension Data and Microsoft. Most recently, until the move to Check Point, Bhula headed up several Africa-focused units at SAP (including the Strategic Partnership Organisation, the Cloud Group and General Business Division).

Having taken up the position, Bhula has already travelled extensively to engage with Check Point's East and West African operations, as well as regional director peers in Paris. He will soon head to Israel to spend time at the company's headquarters.

He is utilising this time to cement the company's position and strategy to capture market share in what he acknowledges to be a competitive landscape, but one rich with opportunity. He will focus specifically on financial services, telecommunications, public sector, utilities, energy and natural resources.

"The continent itself has a significant addressable market that we can capture and my goal is to help mobilise the team, our ecosystem, obviously excite our customer base to capitalise on that addressable market," said Bhula.

Cyber security growth

He is excited about his new security-centric role and plans to tap into the experience he gained at SAP, particularly when it comes to customer focus, strategy around internal operations and related investment.

"It is funny ...surprisingly I have met with several of the customers that I worked with at my SAP days, and I found that whilst they would spend loads of money to digitally transform their internal operations so they could be part of this new evolution of companies in the new industry, they would spend very little on securing that environment."

Bhula believes cyber security is prime and one of the fastest growing areas within IT. "In Africa, with mobile connectivity increasing, cloud adoption ... I think one of every two companies are adopting cloud, the likelihood of cybersecurity being fundamental to their's no longer a luxury, it's a necessity."

He said that Africa is reactive in terms of its approach to cyber security and there is a lack of governance and regulation. "It's almost as if it is not taken seriously, and this is certainly something that I certainly want to work with the team in addressing going forward."

Bhula refers to Botswana, Ghana and Rwanda as high growth markets, growing at faster than traditional GDP rates he added. From a formal business perspective, they are probably least on the corruption index and the global threat index, "are not in the bottom fifty, anyway" he said.

The Check Point team is being mobilised to capture that market and develop those growth markets, which the company hasn't traditionally done.

"We have a stronghold in South Africa in the financial services sector.... We have definitely been successful in Kenya and Nigeria. Those three countries will remain for us strong countries of presence. What we tend to do is we tend to 'verticalise' our strategy, so what I would like to achieve is to implement best practices from global and Europe Middle East region in Africa."

Bhula will drive home to underline Check Point's messaging to the market that businesses are now faced with generation five level cyber threats. "In my opinion, many African customers or companies are certainly at a generation two level."

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