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EXCLUSIVE: Building ESET from the ground up

Hafizah Osman | April 27, 2016
Interview with Richard Marko, CEO of IT security company ESET.

Richard Marko began his career with ESET during his college studies and is one of the co-authors of the ESET NOD32 Antivirus scanning engine. Fast forward a few years, and he’s now the global CEO of the company.

Marko sat down with ARN's Hafizah Osman to have a personal chat about his rise to power, changes he has seen in the global channel space and direction he intends to take the company on. ARN deputy editor, HAFIZAH OSMAN, reports.

Hafizah Osman (HO): You’ve had a long history working at ESET. How’d you get to where you are today?

Richard Marko (RM): My only real job was ESET from the beginning. I started off at ESET as a student – that was in 1994. ESET as a company was founded just two years before that, but its product range was started around 1987. At that time itself, there was a problem around computer viruses and I was a student doing computer sciences and this avenue was something that I found very interesting.

ESET was a small company back then and consisted of just the founders of the company and some technical people. Now, after some 20 years, I’m the global CEO and I’m based in ESET’s HQ in Slovakia. The fact that I joined the company so early meant that originally, there wasn’t a strong differentiation between job roles. Back then, I was predominantly working on research and development but I had to help with technical support, etc. I was always interested in other areas and managing people.

So for me, the technology was only a stepping stone for me to solve problems and achieve bigger things at ESET. And as the company expanded through the years, I became a technology leader, leading the development teams and then I held a position called chief software architect for a number of years.

I then became the CTO some eight or nine years ago, and that transitioned me on to the CEO role. All the original owners moved from managing positions to sitting on the board of directors. They don’t deal with day to day operations but they still get involved in important decision making processes.

Me being in the company for such a long time meant that I’m familiar with the whole company and it was probably a natural selection for me to step in as a global CEO. I took on this role from early 2011 – it’s been more than five years already.

HO: How has ESET progressed as a company since you joined?

RM: It’s always challenging to grow from a small company. I saw it go from just having a few staff to now having hundreds. When you see it reach 100, it’s sort of a milestone for the business. But with that growth spurt, we had to consolidate the whole company together – it was a little fragmented in its early stages. We had to set our goals and priorities and communicate them internally, and that was a challenge.

 

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