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Five-minute interview: Sam Linford, Deep Instinct

This time around, the vice-president of channel and MSSP for EMEA at Deep Instinct, Sam Linford, takes the questions

Morning, Sam, tell us what you do for a living

My name is Sam Linford and I am the vice-president of channel and managed security service providers (MSSPs) for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Deep Instinct. My role is to oversee and manage the channel team, strategy and decisions in EMEA for the business. I work with distributors, resellers and MSSPs to deliver our solutions to our customers.

Why are you the right person for this job?

I’ve been working in the cyber security space for 17 years and I still find it the most interesting area of the technology industry. My interest in computers started when I was young and I would dismantle computers and put them back together again. This interest continued into adulthood where I gained a degree in computing and, eventually, a job in the industry as well.

I’ve worked in several roles in the cyber industry from technical, sales management and channel management and strategy. I have lots of experience with different cultures in the EMEA market, which helps in understanding what is needed for each division within our EMEA strategy. I think my knowledge, genuine interest and my broad experience in the sector makes me the right person for this job.

What gets you up in the morning?

Knowing I have the opportunity within Deep Instinct to drive the strategy and direction of the business, as well as be partly accountable for the success of the organisation, helps. Because Deep Instinct sells everything via the channel, my role is key in making sure we’re successful. It’s rewarding to see the fruits of my labour and how everything my team and I work on can have a ripple effect across the entire business. This all helps me get motivated and up in the morning.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

I worked for a company called Entrust for 12 years, and the vice-president of EMEA was the person who helped me get to the position I am in today. He drove me into the commercial side of the business from a tech role as he saw the potential value I could offer the business. He saw that I was good at communicating with prospects and customers and mentored me so that I could be a success.  

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

Focus makes success far more achievable. This advice has been proven to me by many truly successful colleagues and friends throughout my career.

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

There are huge opportunities within the technology industry and there are so many paths to follow. My advice would be to take the time to truly understand who you are and what you want from life, because that will help you decide which path you want to follow and make a success out of.

 “Take the time to truly understand who you are and what you want from life, because that will help you decide which path you want to follow”

Sam Linford, Deep Instinct

Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning ‘digital transformation’?

Yes! The term digital transformation is so broad and, because it is such a general term, conversations are rarely about digital transformation itself. If I am having an industry conversation, I will be focused on one specific topic, and it won’t have anything to do with digital transformation.

What does the next five years hold for the channel?

The channel has evolved massively since I started my career, and it continues to do so. We will probably experience more and more of the traditional resellers transitioning toward a service-based offering by taking a number of vendor solutions and wrapping them up into one service to provide to a customer. I expect we will see more of these resellers becoming MSSPs.

Tell us something most people do not know about you

I taught myself to juggle when I was young – apparently, it’s like riding a bike. I’m still pretty good!

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

As long as I’ve made a positive impact in the work I am doing and within the organisation I am working in, I will be happy.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

I very much enjoy fictional books – anything by Dean Koontz keeps me happy.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

The first Scary Movie film.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

Oasis’s Talk Tonight, Massive Attack’s Tear Drop, Portishead’s Roads, The Verve’s Lucky Man, Superstar’s Lupe Fiasco, and Alt-J’s Tessellate.

What temptation can you not resist?

Stealing my children’s sweets!

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

My first car was an Austin Metro, and it is impossible to compare it to the car I drive today.

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

Jeremy Kyle – I don’t think he’s added anything positive to society.

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

I’d like to be a bird because then I’ll experience the feeling of what it is like to fly.

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

I loved Superman and was in awe of his powers and capabilities when I was growing up, so he would still be the person I’d like to save me from awesome peril now. I probably wouldn’t object if Superwoman turned up instead.

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?

After watching King Kong, I would put my money on the gorilla – I don’t recall any fictional films portraying bears in the same way.

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