Resilience and security

How Roar! helped me to navigate the pandemic

Thomas and Penny Power OBE interview top Experts from the BIP100 community to introduce them to you. Finding Experts that you can trust is a challenge for us all. By sharing their clients with you, they hope they can reduce your search for great people that can help you build your business.

In this interview they talk to Marilise de Villiers Basson, founder and CEO at Roar! and author of the book of the same name. The conversation centred on personal resilience and organisational cybersecurity. While these two topics may not immediately appear to be strongly linked, Marilise explains just how important one is to the other.

She was accompanied in this interview by two guests, long standing friends and colleagues who each contributed their own unique insights to the central conversation.

Personal resilience

Personal resilience is important, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has seen a growing awareness in all walks of life that we need to take care of our mental health, and there are things we can do to help ourselves. Simeon, one of the guests, talked about the importance of having your own ‘inner circle’, people you can trust and allow yourself to be vulnerable around.

For Marilise the revelation came earlier and was the outcome of being in a toxic work situation. Finally deciding to walk away from it, she had an opportunity to re-examine her personal values and reignite her driving passion—to support people to grow and develop, be successful, live their best lives.

To do this, we need to learn how to speak our own truth, something that is immensely difficult in a work culture that doesn’t feel safe.


Organisations of all sizes throughout the world are becoming more aware of the threats posed by breaches of their systems and are taking actions to increase security for their employees and clients. Generally, this focuses on technological solutions, and yet most breaches occur due to some form of human error or deliberate act.

The organisation needs to support all their employees in becoming more aware of what constitutes secure behaviour, building organisational resilience to attack.

To create an environment where everyone can take responsibility for their own piece of the problem requires change. It requires knowledge and awareness of the problems, and an understanding of how vulnerable the organisation and the people in it really are to a malicious cyber-attack.

When implemented well, this can turn employees into the organisation’s strongest defence, a ‘human firewall’ as Marilise describes it. But in too many organisations there is a culture that doesn’t promote this approach.

Implementing a new approach to cybersecurity

Bringing about a more comprehensive approach to cyber security requires change at three levels. Firstly, there needs to be a change in the training. Too often, organisation-wide training is ineffective, a tick box exercise that assumes that as long as everyone has read a document or watched a video and signed a form all will be well. 

Secondly, there needs to be a culture change where everyone is encouraged to take personal responsibility and isn’t afraid to speak out when needed. And thirdly a network of people throughout the organisation who can lead the change.

Marilise and her guests each specialise in one of these areas, so together they make formidable team to help organisations create a more secure digital environment

The importance of leadership

While rules and guidelines can be created implementing them can be more difficult. Since the beginning of the pandemic many people have worked from home,in their own little silos, remote from the workplace and the conversations that happen there.

As we’ve had to learn, adapt, adopt new working practices, many people have felt overwhelmed and exhausted —even if they weren’t before. Asking them to take on responsibility for organisation security can feel like one step too far.

The answer is to create events they want to attend. And then to present the information in an immersive, interactive, engaging way that gets them wanting more, not less. Once they’re in this environment, then the conversations can happen.

It is also essential that the culture is psychologically safe. Only then can individual’s feel able to be open and potentially vulnerable. If they feel safe, they can raise concerns, maybe about a link they followed, or the behaviour of a co-worker.

Cybersecurity is not just about the technology. It’s about the behaviour of every member of the organisation. It’s about creating resilience within the organisation. And about assisting employees to build their own personal resilience.

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