Dan Turner, CEO of Worcestershire-based IT security company Deep Secure, tells BQ about finding his passion in his forties and his lofty ambitions for the future…
What is it the company does?
Deep Secure is a cybersecurity company that had a fantastic breakthrough just 18-months ago, in that we worked out how to deliver Digital Purity - threat-free business content every time. Deep Secure has invented the world’s first stegware solution, which is the only reliable way to eliminate threats concealed via steganography. They say that there is no such thing as a silver bullet in cybersecurity - but boy, oh boy, does this come close to being it. We just invented the wheel for the digital age - and the beauty is that all of the IP is British.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
As CEO at Deep Secure, I'm the chief plate-spinner; it’s my role to get as many plates spinning as quickly as I can with my team, and then navigate back around in timely fashion to help them with a boost spin when needed - it’s all about time-division multiplexing. I push the team hard, so we do get the odd broken plate - every now and then - but we have a culture that says that's ok, as long as we learn from it.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
Left school at sixteen and joined the Royal Air Force as an apprentice - swearing I would never do another exam again. Then spent most of my adult life in and out of education and exams - go figure! I found the RAF was an excellent grounding for life in so many ways and it certainly set me up for senior roles in the industry in recent years.
I didn't actually get into cybersecurity until I was 40 but then never looked back. Before joining Deep Secure, my proudest moment was growing Hewlett Packard's global cybersecurity business by $550M in 5-yrs - Deep Secure will be much, much bigger.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I've tried to analyse this over the years because I've worked for some brilliant people. I haven't yet got a blueprint, but I've noticed a common trait in those that I respect the most, is that they surround themselves with scarily good people and thrive on pushing them to do even better.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
Getting everyone else to believe that we were indeed a world-class business that just needed a global stage to play on.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I have a great family and wonderful home life. Although I'm away a lot - it feels great to get home to the supportive clan. The time spent with them keeps the stress away. Oh, and a bit of running too - to keep my blood pressure down!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Evidently, I told my careers advisor at school - when asked the same question - that if I could be half as good a man like my Dad, I would be happy. She then asked, "but what about a job?”
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
They must think I'm a little OCD at work because I can't stand to see a scruffy office. The team has now worked out that there is a level of untidiness that I can't bear - and we the have a good clean up again.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I believe that in five years’ time Deep Secure will be a FTSE100 business - it has all the ingredients to scale quickly and achieve greatness - only time will tell.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
If you have a conviction on something in business, then see it out to the end of the earth.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I wish that someone in business had explained that qualifications weren't necessarily the be all and end all for getting ahead. I collected formal qualifications like badges at one point, but they really don't help you. Of course, I still preach the party line to my boys that "qualifications give you options".
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