Sandra Tobler: Bringing a New Perspective to Cybersecurity Landscape

Although Sandra comes from an entrepreneurial family, leading her own company in a landscape of constantly evolving and emerging threats was never on her radar. In 2016, Sandra’s hunt for passion and her fascination to help build a new generation of IT providers that focus (a lot more) on user-centric design and change processes led her to co-found Futurae Technologies. “Devices and digital interfaces will change in the future and the type of services we all use as end-user. The secure login should be invisible and seamless for any sensitive interaction and transaction. My vision for online security is that of an invisible line of defence always on the side of the user,” espouses Sandra Tobler, Co-founder, President of the Board and CEO of Futurae Technologies.

Today she shares this vision with the whole team of Futurae, where they make that future a little closer.

"Leading people that don’t want to be led or do not respect you is downright impossible"

Enabling Customer-centric Security

The new standard in user-centric authentication Futurae Technologies was incorporated in Zürich by top-class Cybersecurity researchers coming from one of the best Universities worldwide, the System Security Group of ETH Zurich.

Bridging the large gap between today’s IT Security products and how digital products want to create a more personalised user experience. Futurae brings future-proof security to digital products. Futurae offers user-centric and secure login solutions for strong, banking-grade end-user authentication using a machine learning algorithm and sensor signals (Zero-Touch) to authenticate users in a matter of seconds. A comprehensive portfolio includes authentication and transaction signing technologies that can be flexibly combined for secure web logins, logins into mobile apps or IOT devices like for instance skills on Alexa.

For its novel innovative AI enhanced authentication portfolio, Futurae was named ‘Cool Vendor’ by Gartner in Identity and Access Management, 2018. Today Futurae’s customers are mostly in the financial, insurance or health industries, like the Swiss stock exchange (SIX-Group) or some of the largest wealth tech companies.

However, leading a fast-growing technology company that strives to be the new standard in usable authentication the best part? Security that doesn’t compromise on user experience does not come easy. But Sandra’s focused efforts towards making a company culture that fuels innovation made it a reality. “At Futurae, we are building a workplace where every team member can work on an exciting piece of the puzzle,” says Tobler. Sandra, therefore, looks for people who are a culture fit meaning self-driven team players who can excel in a constantly changing industry. Again by enforcing the open communication culture Sandra encourages direct and immediate feedback. Together with team events, a fair compensation package, participation in company decisions, as well as direct contact to the founders and management of the company helps in keeping everyone motivated and focused. Additionally, if someone detects a decision based on the unconscious bias (on gender, race, age, etc.), they are encouraged to immediately report it to the relevant supervisor. This is the simplest and most effective rule at Futurae. “If communication is not working, then any other number of policies and processes will be completely irrelevant,” asserts Tobler. However, managing people (men, or women) is always a challenge. “Leading people that don’t want to be led or do not respect you is downright impossible,” Tobler carries on adding one leadership lesson learnt from her experience. “Some people can’t be led by you. Part your ways as fast as possible.” So are these the exemplifying leadership skills that make Sandra a successful leader? “Success is a very personal concept related to one’s values and vision,” states Tobler. “One of my drives is learning. I measure my success on the amount of new information I learn, in the long term. As long as I’m learning new processes, new ideas, new tricks, new interactions, I feel I’m having success for myself, and for the others.” Of course, there are always ups and downs. Also success and easy never comes together. It does require letting go of a lot of things. Isn’t it? “In all honesty, I don’t look back at decisions made and call them “sacrifices”, says Tobler. “Decision points always have outcomes (or they wouldn’t be decision points). One picks one and moves along. The rest is not sacrificed, it’s simply not chosen. People that don’t take decisions, afraid of sacrifices are simply allowing others to make decisions for them. I’m definitely not in this camp.”

Even so, owning a fast-pacing company absorbs most of the “mental” time one has available. Yet taking time for oneself is still very important. Sandra has hence made it a top priority to live a balanced life. Spending time hiking, meeting friends, and immersing her in good music (she has been singing in a band since 16!) remains her favourite ways of unwinding.  If given a chance she expressed her desire to have dinner with Georges Danton and Jimi Hendrix.

Self-reflect and Grow

“I am happy to see (well, starting to see) more women covering leadership positions. This allows for more diverse views in an organization, which is something that trickles down throughout political and social environments,” says Tobler. Though it is no secret that women are still pushing, and due to gender bias, it requires “more” hard work, “more” communication, and “more” supportive team members to reach more prominent positions in an organization. Sandra asserts, “Irrespective of gender, I am a strong proponent of meritocracy and hard work. But it is also very important to have strong communicators and supporters within the organization. Both men and women should stand up for their colleagues that deserve it, and they will be recognized.” This in-fact she says is the biggest challenge female leaders are facing currently: Being respected. “Respect for one’s nationality, for one’s gender, for one’s colour, for one’s social upbringing. Respect for one’s ideas, especially when different from one another,” carries on Tobler. “This is not something that changes from one generation to the other.”

Sandra Tobler, Co-founder, President of the Board & CEO, Futurae Technologies

As for women in leadership positions, Sandra urges them to “Reflect on what brought you to where you are. Reflect on it honestly, and then foster that very same attitude in anything you do, and with everyone, you work with.”

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