Q&A with RSA Conference 2019 Keynote: Pat Gelsinger

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How many times have you attended RSAC?

Sort of lost track, maybe 8-10 times now between my time at Intel, EMC (where the RSA business worked for me) and now my second time as VMware CEO

What is the topic of your keynote?

The title of our talk is, “Three Things the Security Industry Has Gotten Wrong”. We’re going to share some provocative observations on where we, as an industry, have missed the boat and where we need to go next. We’re going to zero in on the areas where we have a chance to drive major steps forward in security, versus just incremental gains. 

How do you decide what your topic will be?

Right from the get-go in our initial brainstorm it became clear that Shannon and I are very aligned in our perspectives on security. We both believe strongly that as an industry we’re spending far too much time and energy chasing the latest threats. Instead, we need to focus on shrinking the attack surface. 

How do you go about preparing for your keynote address?

Lots of white-boarding, drafting and redrafting and lively debate! The final stage is usually just quiet time where I give the speech outloud a few times to crystallize my thoughts and get clear on how I want to articulate major points of the talk.  

How does attending RSAC keep your team on the leading edge of the cybersecurity and technology industry?

I love RSAC because it’s where the brightest minds in security gather to challenge the conventional wisdom and share their best insights on where we need to go next. 

What do you most value out of attending RSAC?

Being at the nerve center of security innovation – you can feel the energy when you walk around the show floor and connect with people. It’s a noble cause to try and shift the advantage from attackers to defenders, and everyone I meet is fighting that good fight. 

When you want to see innovation live at RSAC, what program(s) do you check out?

I pick a handful of breakouts to watch and I always check out the mainstage keynotes either live or via playback and get time interacting with others on the showfloor. 

How does your organization embrace and promote diversity and inclusion?

We launched our D&I initiative in a big way in 2014. We expanded to create PODs, which are “Power of Difference” communities, including black@VMware, PRIDE@VMware and Women@VMware. PODs are all about enhancing our inclusive culture and harnessing the power of human difference. Many of these PODs are now serving as advisors to our business on key issues. We’re also partnering closely with the Stanford Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab to invest in leadership for high school and women in technology. And we’re proud to be hosting our fourth Women Transforming Technology (WT2) conference. At the same time, we’re focusing on spirituality because we believe that religious diversity is a core part of bringing your whole self to work. Last but definitely not least, we recently launched VMInclusion Taara – which is our commitment to train 15,000 women over the next 2 years so they can return to the workplace after taking time off.

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