Five Minute Interview: Lior Arbel, Performanta

Lior Arbel, CTO at data governance, identity and access management, tells us how his dad got him interested in IT, and why he's not had a proper holiday since the 1990s

Tell us what you do for a living.

I am CTO of Performanta Ltd (UK), a company that specialises in data governance and identity and access management.

Why are you the right person for this job?

Ask the person who hired me. More seriously I have a lot of experience at data governance and security so my specialities and the company’s offerings align perfectly.

What gets you up in the morning?

The day to day challenge is what drives me, each day brings a new activity and each customer is a new challenge.

Who helped you get where you are today?

I couldn’t have done any of this without my wife, her support is vital to me. For this specific job it seems that every different role that I’ve had over the past 20 years working in IT security has prepared me for working as a CTO at Performanta.

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

When I had to learn about professions before university, I went to a careers advice centre and they gave me three options that they thought would suit me: air conditioning technician (a big deal in Israel), a design drawer for architects or a computer technician.

Now in 1993 computers weren’t common and most people still didn’t have one at home, but my father told me he thought they would soon take over the world. He told me to become a computer technician. Looking around me now, I know that he was right and that he gave me the best advice I’ve ever received.

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

Run away!  IT is long hours of hard work mostly done behind the scenes.

If you are already committed, then you should get involved in customer-facing work. Working in some companies and areas can be boring and predictable as every day you do the same tasks. However, if you work in a customer facing role (especially in security) then you will encounter new challenges every day. It allows for better job satisfaction as you have a happy customer, a problem solved and you can look and see a job well done.

What is running on your smartphone?

Any application that helps get me from point A to B, tube map, national rail, flight booking and of course Waze – put me down anywhere in Israel and I know where I am because it’s long and thin and directions are easy, but the UK is a bit trickier; I have been here five years and I still can’t get around without a satnav.

What does the next five years hold for the channel?

The channel needs to go back to value added reselling. This is a core value at Performanta and the basis of its success. It used to be the norm but the channel became flooded so handling the installation and customer issues falls back on the vendors whose strength is technology and innovation, not services. Resellers should once again specialise in an area and use the expertise this brings to add value to their offerings to their customers.

Tell us something most people do not know about you

I have triplets, two girls and a boy aged 14, with them at this age it’s not always fun.

What goal do you have to achieve before you die and why?

Have to achieve? Nothing – I have my family, what more could I need?  However what I would like to achieve is a proper holiday. In Israel, after serving in the army and before university, most people take six months or more to go travelling – sort of a semi-gap year. I haven’t taken more than two weeks off since 1994.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

Can’t pick a favourite as there are too many good books, but crime fiction is my favourite genre.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

I love movies and just recently I went to see an absolutely terrible movie called This is the End – we left five minutes after it started.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

I am a sucker for soft rock and pop. Rod Stewart, Adele, Bruno Mars.

What temptation can you not resist?

Coconuts – ice cream, Thai food, anything with coconut.

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?

First car was a Peugeot 205 which was very basic, no aircon or any other luxuries.

Now I have a Citroen c6 – all French I know – and that is a joy to drive, pure pleasure.

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

A claustrophobic person, the panicking would be horrible .

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?

I actually thought about this one a lot, definitely an eagle. You can fly and are strong enough to fight off predators. Plus there is no traffic up in the air so no need for maps or satnavs!

If you could take part in one event in the Olympics which would you choose and why?

Volleyball! I love it, men’s of course!

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

Thor! No explanation necessary.

And finally, a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla are getting ready for a no-holds-barred rumble. Who is your money on and why?

I’d try and convince them not to fight, they have different habitats and food sources, why would they be fighting?

Though if I had to choose, my money would be on the gorilla - they are faster, more flexible and can climb trees.

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