AMATAS CISO, Ivan Vladikin, has 20+ years of experience in protecting the three most important pillars of information security: availability, confidentiality, and integrity of data. 

In his role at AMATAS, he plays a crucial part in leading our cyber security team towards the future with a strategy, focused on resolving problems with experience and creativity. 

Ivan Vladikin’s lead-by-example approach motivates our team to achieve results and become better professionals, every single day. 

In our exclusive interview, find out from Ivan Vladikin more about his: 

  • Career start: from IT manager to CISO at a Bulgarian banking institution 
  • AMATAS chapter: where experience, knowledge, and vision come together 
  • Teamwork makes the dream work leadership strategies 
  • Advice to anyone looking to get into the exciting, cyber security industry 

Discover more about AMATAS’s team culture from our first talk with Ivan Vladikin. 

How did your career in cyber security commence?  

More than ten years ago, I used to work as an IT manager in a Bulgarian banking institution. The team I led was responsible for controlling and securing access to the most highly confidential company information and resources. 

During those days, the constant and dynamic development of technology and the globalization of financial services resulted in two things: 

  • an increased frequency (and versatility) of attempted malicious cyberattacks 
  • a rise in the illegal acquisition and usage of information, pertaining to the banking industry.  

Having in mind a possible attack's impact on operations and the scale of its consequences, completely shifted our team's focus. We met the organization-wide need to protect the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of its main assets by building and maintaining a system for information security management.  

Turn to the next chapter of my career (in the banking institution) - I was offered the role of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), based on my experience and detailed knowledge of business processes and implemented technologies.  

Working as CISO in the highly regulated banking industry provided me with the opportunity to develop my planning and strategic management skills, building on my already-acquired IT expertise. 

How did AMATAS help you on your professional journey? 

Joining the AMATAS team was a personal challenge and an opportunity to continue my career growth in an organization that meets the highest standards of information security.  

I knew that AMATAS was founded by cyber security visionaries, driven to make our digital world more secure by helping organizations of all sizes to realize their full potential without the fear of cyber threats and attacks. 

My personal values immediately aligned with the organization's core ones of security, honesty, integrity, transparency, and adaptability, all supported by creativity and innovation. The work environment at AMATAS inspires us to strive every single day to become better versions of ourselves. 

What is your personal approach toward leadership and team management? 

I spend a lot of time communicating with my team, which also involves listening carefully to the people around me. When making important decisions, I try to take all ideas into consideration.  

One of the most important aspects of my role as a leader is to take responsibility for my own and my team's success, but also for our mistakes.

Our effective teamwork is built on mutual trust, understanding, and cooperation. 

Over the years, I have truly seen how leading by personal example creates a successful ground for everyone to achieve more. I motivate my team with a proactive, positive work ethic, which they mirror. I prefer to take the time to show my colleagues what is required of them rather than simply to "boss" them around. 

The key to building successful team culture is setting clear goals and managing expectations. I always try to encourage my colleagues to ask questions and give feedback. I strive to be open to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking - and avoid sticking to the status quo for the sake of consistency. 

What is the most rewarding part of your role? 

My first and foremost responsibilities are to take decisions and resolve emerging security issues: effectively and quickly. 

I feel the most satisfaction from my role when every employee starts to consciously accept information security as an integral part of an organization's unified security strategy and regulations. 

At the core of any successful organization is the effective protection of information (from a wide range of cyber security attacks) to: 

  • ensure the continuity of business processes 
  • minimize operational risk  
  • increase the return on investments (ROI)

If you could turn back time and speak to your younger self, what are your words of wisdom going to be regarding your cyber security career path? 

Think outside the box! The cyber security industry is relatively young, meaning that best practices and problem solutions are yet to be established. The best way to deal with uncertainty is to ask the right questions so that you can at least find out where the hidden potential threats are.  

Communicating complex issues and building trusting relationships will also help you along the way. You should be willing to adapt to change, never stop learning, and always take feedback from as many people as possible.  

Study and understand human behavior because cyber security is not just about technology, but it also involves processes and people. 

There's virtually no cyber security problem that comes along with all the necessary information you may need to solve it. You need to know where to look, what to look for, and understand how those pieces fit together to create your own solution.   

Aim to become a better version of yourself, every single day! 

The next part of our interview with Ivan Vladikin is coming soon! Within it, you’ll discover more about the role of the CISO and Ivan Vladikin’s tips on how to build a more positive cyber security culture within your organization. 

If you want to know what it’s like to work at AMATAS, read some of our previous talks with the team: 

  • Penetration Tester 
  • Legal Advisor and Privacy Consultant
  • Cybersecurity Specialist / Expert 


Ralitsa Kosturska in AMATAS