Voices of Nium with Karthik Venkatachalam S.

8 Minute read
6 months ago

Karthik Venkatachalam S, Secure by Design and Cybersecurity Principal at Nium, has had a career pebbled with experience and growth across leading brands such as Standard Chartered Bank and Ernst & Young. He was recently recognized as a Nium’er who consistently makes effort to #MakeItBetter. In sitting down with him for this interview, it’s clear to see why Karthik was nominated and, ultimately, awarded. 

At Nium, we have 3 core values which unite us:  

  1. #KeepItSimple: we cut through complexity, simplify at speed, and operate with scale in mind. 

  1. #MakeItBetter: we build innovative solutions that make our customers’ lives better. 

  1. #WinItTogether: we win in this competitive market by collaborating as one team. 

In the third feature of “Voices of Nium”, Karthik, who is based in Chennai, which is situated in Central South-Eastern India, shares a window into his world of cybersecurity. He tells us why Nium is comparable to Korean band, BTS, and explains why he believes it’s essential to have multicultural team members to complete the Nium pie. 

Karthik, when we think about cybersecurity, we envision a ‘James Bond of the internet.’ Would that be accurate 

It’s certainly a compliment to be compared to James Bond, but I’d say that we play more of a protection role vs. a spy role. In a nutshell, cybersecurity is about ensuring that our computer systems, networks, software, hardware, and data are guarded from digital threats, attacks, and unauthorized access. We collaborate with various people both internally and externally to make this happen and focus on the processes and technologies which are designed to prevent damaging and malicious cyber activity. 

How would you describe the functionality of the cybersecurity team at Nium?  

The impact of cybersecurity within Nium, as with most global businesses, is complex and is sometimes unseen and unheard, but most definitely always present.  

You mentioned James Bond earlier, but maybe Batman is more appropriate, in this case. Operating behind the scenes and fighting cybercrime! Haha. 

Raj Viswanathan is our Chief Information Security Officer at Nium, and his strategy largely straddles 6 core aspects to support our ecosystem: 

  • Governance Risk & Compliance

  • Secure By Design & Security Testing

  • Resilience  

  • Cyber Defence Threat Management

  • Data Protection & Privacy

  • Identity & Access Management Governance  

What do you think Nium offers cybersecurity team members that’s unique to other employers in the market?  

I think Nium’s biggest stand out asset as an employer is that we equip our team with state-of-the-art tech tools, which not only enable us to fulfil our roles more effectively, but also help to establish us as a benchmark cybersecurity team in the international arena. 

In my opinion, Nium is also (by far) the best employer I’ve worked with when it comes to significantly reducing the lead time for software procurement processes, whilst ensuring that software assessments are performed with due diligent calibration.  

I would also say that it’s seldom to get to work with security conscious leaders, who genuinely want to collaborate with us day-in and day-out to improve security best practices internally. Cybersecurity is a collective endeavor, and implementing effective security controls requires cooperation at every level. Nium’ers have an in-built desire to solve complex problems and want to address incidents proactively to keep raising the bar. 

One of Nium’s operating principles is “spread good vibes: in a world where you can be anything, be kind. Embrace empathy by asking questions to understand. Encourage good vibes, check in regularly with your team, and go the extra mile to make someone smile.” How do you feel Nium’ers bring this to life? 

The continental diversity of our team has made my Nium journey more meaningful. It’s a privilege to work with talented people from different geographies who bring to the table their own slice of expertise and unique culture to complete the Nium pie. There’s never a day that goes by when I don’t learn something interesting from a colleague in a different part of the world. It’s one of the things I most appreciate about Nium.  

If I speak about this from a cybersecurity perspective, each team member is more than happy to take their turn to work on-call rotations, if we must respond to critical incidents. We have a very clear escalation matrix and procedure handbook. We have an established and centralized incident management system where all incidents are documented, tracked, and updated. This allows team members supporting different time zones to pick up where another left off, with ease. We also take training seriously to ensure that there is constant knowledge sharing. There’s a lot of talent at Nium to be tapped into. 

Nium has a very broad skillset of job families; tech, product, account management, marketing, talent acquisition, business development, you name it! In your almost 2 years at Nium, which team members would you say have found their groove most successfully? 

First and foremost, I think the ability to go with the flow and remain calm under pressure is critical at Nium. We’re a very fast-paced, hyper-growth organization and things change frequently. Those who can adapt and be agile will succeed at Nium. We also encourage a solutions-mindset across all business functions, so people who are prepared to blaze their own path and put their hand up to try things that are new and different are recognised and rewarded. We celebrate ‘failure’ because it means you’ve been brave enough to try and move the needle, even if it resulted in learning vs. success. 

What’s been your proudest moment at Nium to date? 

My proudest moments were when I was recognized by our Chief Information Security Officer for two Nium Functional Awards. These awards are presented on a bi-annual basis and the reward is tangible - which is always a win!  

I was recently awarded in the #MakeItBetter category which is given to those who “build innovative solutions that make our customers’ lives better.” This boosted my confidence and motivated me to continue to push beyond boundaries to contribute towards a more secure tech landscape  

I believe that Nium’s awards and recognitions are a critical catalyst in promoting our high-performance culture. They’re celebrated on a company-wide level and truly make team members feel appreciated. 

Let’s shift gears as we close off and ask a fun question! If Nium were a band, which band would you liken it to, and why?

This is a great question! I’d have to say a Korean band called BTS (Bangtan Sonyeonda). Have you heard of them? Both BTS and Nium have transcended boundaries and borders and made their footprints on the sands of time. While BTS achieved this by offering soulful voice, relatable lyrics, reverberating beats and impactfully orchestrated music to its fans, Nium accomplished these feats by offering economically viable, innovative, swift, and seamless integrations, and cyber-resilient payment products to our customers. 

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