Younus Aftab

-November 21, 2017

Architecting Secure Access

An Interview with Rob Koeten, Chief Software Architect – interviewed by Younus Aftab

Rob Koeten recently joined Pulse Secure as Chief Software Architect. In this interview, discover where he’s been, what attracted him to Pulse Secure, and how he envisions the future of Secure Access.

Younus: Let’s go back to the beginning … when you were young, what did you dream you’d grow up to be?

Rob: From the time I was about 12 years old, I aspired to become an architect to build and create things. I even knew early on that I wanted to attend the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, which is the country where I was born and raised. I just wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be an architect in construction or of computer systems.

Younus: How did you get from that point to where you are today?

Rob: I decided to pursue computer architecture, and took my degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science. I started my career working with firmware and systems-level engineering, and gradually moved into system and kernel software and middleware development. My primary focus was on overall systems design and end-to-end architecture.

As time progressed, I had the opportunity to take on product management roles as well, where I was responsible for both product strategy, market requirements, and profit and loss (P&L) for various devices and services. That experience has provided me with the business model, strategy, and insight crucial to my current role as Chief Software Architect. Over the years, I also contributed to multiple projects to create innovative solutions that helped realize the company vision and strategy, and ultimately achieve business growth.

Younus: What is your primary responsibility within the organization?

Rob: I am focused on helping to translate the corporate vision and strategy into a technical strategy and architectural approach for Pulse Secure’s products and services. It is by bridging business and technology strategies that we can create an enduring competitive differentiation in the marketplace.

Younus: How would you describe yourself in terms of leadership style?

Rob: My approach is highly collaborative. I believe it is crucial to have all key stakeholders and contributors involved in developing and validating a strategy and its execution. I encourage the team to ask: “What are the core problems we are trying to solve? Are we solving for the right (customer) problems?” These questions help us gain and maintain perspective and, by doing so, drive innovation towards enduring differentiation.

Younus: What motivates you professionally?

Rob: I enjoy tackling multi-dimensional problems. Aggressive company objectives, a competitive landscape, technology challenges, multiple products and services … I thrive on developing a cohesive technology strategy and architectural approach that encompasses and addresses all these factors to help set up the company for success.

Younus: Why did you choose to join the Pulse Secure leadership team?

Rob: I find the current and future portfolio of product capabilities at Pulse Secure highly intriguing and attractive. Pulse Secure is neither a traditional security company nor a traditional network company: it is about bridging users and devices with applications and information in a multi-cloud environment. This is a largely unsolved problem, and it is Pulse Secure’s mission and opportunity to address it. This puts Pulse Secure in a unique position in the market to deliver a more holistic solution to our customers.

Younus: What are your thoughts on the future of Secure Access?

Rob: One of the main challenges for Secure Access is to enable ease of collaboration and information access to our customers’ employees and partners. The traditional security approach is about control and limitations. This is problematic, because if security makes access and collaboration difficult to achieve, users will find a way around IT. So a key objective at Pulse Secure is to couple high security with ease of access and consumption: it is an approach that is focused on enablement, rather than restriction.

Younus: Thank you, Rob, for sharing your experience and insights. We look forward to hearing more from you about Pulse Secure’s innovative approach to the future of Secure Access.

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