Q&A With Axiad’s New Chief Product Officer: Alex Au Yeung

April 17, 2024

Earlier this week we made an important announcement highlighting the appointment of two new executives at Axiad: Alex Au Yeung as the company’s chief product officer (CPO) and Sergey Starzhinskiy as vice president of systems engineering. Alex has more than two decades of experience in product management and software engineering. Most recently, he served as the CPO of Symantec at Broadcom. Previously, Alex held product leadership roles at Qualys and Dell Software. Sergey brings more than 15 years of experience in the cybersecurity and telecommunications industries, serving in various customer-facing capacities. Before joining Axiad, he was a senior sales engineer at Ericsson-Cradlepoint.

Alex and Sergey will spearhead Axiad’s new identity-first product direction. We recently sat down with Alex to learn more about the company’s new product strategy. He also fills us in on his background, what excites him about joining the Axiad team, and what helps him unwind outside of work. Following is our conversation.


The Career Journey

How did you become interested in computer science, and did you always have an interest in technology?

I’ve had a passion for and a love of technology for a very long time. In fact, my interest goes as far back as the third grade. I can remember banging on my first computers, an Apple IIe and a Tandy RadioShack TRS-80. From that point on, I was hooked. Obviously, at that young age, most kids are primarily interested in games. However, that led to working on a computer science degree, and subsequently, a career in technology during the first dotcom bubble.

Tell us about your career path to date and your most recent, long-term role rising up to be an executive at Symantec. 

My career path can be summarized by listening to people’s problems, distilling their asks to what’s truly needed, and single-mindedly focusing on delivery of the answer. I’ve gone from startup to large enterprise organizations three times. From AvantGo to Sybase, from KACE to Dell, and from Elastica to Bluecoat Systems to Symantec at Broadcom. The commonality of all three, however, was listening to my customers and delivering what they need.

This same logic was applied while I was at Symantec. As the security world evolved, point solutions that were not integrated and didn’t play well with a customer’s security ecosystem became less and less relevant. Over several years, I narrowed the strategic focus so that we could deliver a comprehensive offering called Symantec Enterprise Cloud, that addressed current industry challenges such as regulatory pressures, sophisticated threat actors, and increased adoption of cloud for businesses.

What qualities do you think make a great leader?

I would say the most important quality in a leader is the ability to listen – and I’m taking this to heart in my new role. I’ve been deeply involved in cybersecurity for the last decade, but I don’t have direct experience in the identity space. So, I’m in the learning process here, and listening to people who have been entrenched in this aspect of security is key to getting up to speed. If you don’t listen, you can’t learn and improve.


Moving Axiad Forward

What excites you about working at Axiad?  

 There are two main areas of security: protecting your data and protecting your people. I believe the cybersecurity market has focused on and done a great job solving for the data side, but the identity challenge remains fragmented. This is surprising because the weakest link for attackers to exploit has always been identity. Since people are integral to business and business operations, this problem is never going to go away.

In the absence of a consolidated tool that helps with identity security, Axiad has a tremendous opportunity to evolve its product set to give organizations a one stop shop for discovering, managing, and mitigating identity risk. And, this is why I’m excited about my role at Axiad.

What is your top goal for the company?

My top goal is being able to provide true value to our customers by helping them defend against identity-based cybersecurity attacks. This starts at the top with the C-Suite, making sure they understand identity risks and how to mitigate them, and permeates throughout the company, ensuring all stakeholders are on board.

At the end of the day, it’s all about providing peace of mind for organizations, and I believe Axiad is on the path to advancing its product set to be able to deliver this with an iron clad identity security strategy that provides cyber resilience.

How important is your collaboration with engineering?

It’s of the utmost importance. No product organization is worth their salt if they’re not talking with the people who are customer facing day in and day out, and at Axiad, this is the role of Sergey and his team. Again, it comes down to listening – listening to the challenges companies are facing and what they are looking for in an identity solution. I will work closely with engineering to make sure we are hearing and integrating customer feedback into our product set. This is the only way to ensure we are constantly innovating along with changing business needs and meeting the demands of our customers.

What technology trends do you think will drive the identity management space in the near-term? 

I’m going to beat the dead horse and say it’s artificial intelligence (AI). Generative AI and machine learning (ML) give us tools to solve for the challenge of having multiple identity objects tied to the same person.

For example, let’s say a person has differing login patterns for various applications – some usernames are a combination of first and last name, others first initial and last name, and others still, first name and last initial. Historically, no set of static rules could perfectly unify all those identities with the same person. Rules are black or white – the objects either match the rule, or it doesn’t. For instance, a rule would look for the first and last name combo only, or the first initial and last name only. At an enterprise scale, you would need to write myriad rules to tie all identities to a singular person or task a person to analyze thousands of objects to determine which identities they belong to – neither of which is sustainable.

AI and ML fills in the gap here. These technologies can bring in additional context to provide confidence in these gray areas. So, no matter the login pattern, objects can be tied to the right identity. For this reason, I believe companies that utilize modern AI and ML in their identity management efforts will be at a distinct advantage in the coming years.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

My wife and I joke that all my vices start with W – watches, wheels, and whiskey. I’m very into cars, I like watches, and I have an extensive whiskey collection.

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