“Don’t live somebody else’s career – build your own, in your style”

Have you ever considered working in public affairs in technology and cybersecurity? According to Genie Gan, Head of Public Affairs for the APAC region at Kaspersky, this is one of the most interesting and dynamic careers for professional development. In the Women in career IT podcast, Genie shares her experience of the role, explains the nature and focus of the job, the skills required and much more.

Genie Gan
Head of Public
Affairs for the APAC
region at Kaspersky

A qualified lawyer, accountant and certified international mediator and mediation coach, Genie Gan began her career in a Big Four public accounting firm, followed by a major law firm in Singapore. She also served as a government legal policy officer and special aide to the Minister for Law in Singapore. Genie’s role at Kaspersky is to develop trusted relationships between government and public institutional stakeholders, to help integrate robust business and public policies.

Genie believes merging expertise and knowledge with soft skills are key requisites for the role. “Firstly, develop your people skills — you will be working with a lot of people, both internally and with various business teams who have different needs and priorities, and externally with government and public institutions and you will need to find the right approach to communicate with them. Good negotiation skills are crucial too,” says Genie. “Governments, for example, have their own struggles, challenges and priorities and it’s important to be sensitive to different cultures and understand these needs to achieve successful outcomes for your company,” she continues.

Top tips for a successful career in Public Affairs
  • \\A background in law. When you receive information from any government or read about policy and legal changes, you need to assess the impact on your business and if need be, develop an advocacy position for your company. An interest or experience in law is helpful in such instances.
  • \\Additional courses in public policy, public administration, or law. Any law school education will inevitably involve studying politics, the history of government structures and how government works, etc.
  • \\ Government or public-sector experience helps get a better view of the inner workings of government.
  • \\ Industry trends will help to identify how they impact the business and can be used to map out a strategy to build relationships with stakeholders
  • \\ Business acumen helps you stay abreast of the company’s business needs while pursuing your Public Affairs efforts.
Lessons learned and tips to win

Making mistakes is a vital part of the career development process — but only if you learn from them. Genie says one of her biggest mistakes was attempting to emulate her mentor’s success in the name of “learning from the best”. Instead of trying to fill others’ shoes, she suggests developing your own style, one that takes the best of your role model’s experience but plays to your personal preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

“Stay curious, open-minded and willing to learn because when you work in public affairs, you’re in for a surprise every single day! Always accept help from others, never be too proud to listen to advice and remember that nothing is below you. Do everything it takes to get the job done, and in the process of putting it all together, you will create a much better environment for yourself to learn and grow.”

Listen to the full story in our Women in IT podcast.