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Five-minute interview: Cristina Bentue, IriusRisk

The latest to share some personal insights is Cristina Bentue, co-founder and chief operating officer of cyber security player IriusRisk

Morning, Cristina, tell us what you do for a living.

I am the co-founder and chief operating officer at IriusRisk, a global cyber security company specialising in automated threat modelling and secure software design.

Why are you the right person for this job?

It’s important to put your soul into a startup; I fought hard to build IriusRisk. I also have a degree in business development and gained experience in the sector through working in a cyber security consultancy. 

What gets you up in the morning?

Most mornings it is my dog licking my face asking me to take him for a walk.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

There are so many people who I’ve been fortunate enough to have in my life and who have inspired me to get to where I am today. First, my mother was the one who pushed me to prioritise education, which she didn’t have access to – so much so that I went on to get three degrees and two doctorates.

My co-founder, Stephen de Vries, is another person who helped me overcome my imposter syndrome and believed in me from the very beginning.

And a special mention to one of my first employers, a pub manager in London. When I first came to London at the age of 17 – not knowing English – and with no money in my pocket, no one would hire me. I was about to go home, but this pub manager believed in me, had compassion and helped me to navigate a new world.

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?

The best advice I have had is that there is no time for toxicity. Life’s too short to work with people who don’t lift you.

And the worst was that I would never be somebody in deep tech while based in Spain. I didn’t take this personally, and now, IriusRisk has grown to be a global company expanding from just two of us to 150 today. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?

I would tell them to learn how to harness artificial intelligence (AI). The IT world is changing rapidly and AI is becoming so important in every industry, so make sure you’re aware of such transformative technology and how it can be implemented into your daily life. 

“The best advice I have had is that there is no time for toxicity. Life’s too short to work with people who don’t lift you”

Cristina Bentue, IriusRisk 

It’s a similar story to what is happening today with security-by-design. Governments are moving us towards a world in which secure software design will be a must-have, not a nice to have. If you wait, you’ll be left behind.

What do the next five years hold for the channel?

The IT channel is always changing to keep up with new developments and advancements. I think over the next five years, we’ll see the automation of all manual processes that are repetitive and logical using AI. For humans, our roles will evolve to focusing on the complexities of the job and generating ideas that take the machinery we use from good to excellent.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

I love to read all sorts of books so it’s a bit difficult to pick the best one. But if I had to choose, I’d say One Hundred Years of Solitude by García Márquez. It’s a masterpiece.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

Classical music. I never get tired of the melody, and the neighbours can’t complain about it being too loud.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

This would have to be Gigli with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez – it was so bad, I was laughing out loud. The worst thrillers make the best comedy films.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?

Probably my Latin high school teacher – I still have nightmares from her lessons.

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?

Buddha, no doubt. The acceptance of suffering leads to happiness.

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