Sophos supercharges ASEAN play with new leader

Sandra Lee tasked with driving customer and partner growth.
Sandra Lee (Sophos)

Sandra Lee (Sophos)

Sophos has appointed Sandra Lee as managing director of Southeast Asia and Korea, tasked with meeting heightened demand for security solutions and services delivered via the channel.

Channel Asia can exclusively reveal that Singapore-based Lee -- who was previously managing director of Asia Pacific at Kaspersky -- joins the vendor effective immediately, leading ASEAN and Greater China go-to-market strategies for customers and partners.

“Sandra brings an impressive 25-year pedigree and strong track record working in the technology and cyber security industry to Sophos,” said Gavin Struthers, senior vice president of Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) at Sophos. “Her rich experience covers working in ASEAN and parts of APJ across all customer segments, managing inside and field teams plus driving successful channel partnerships and sales operations.”

According to Struthers, ASEAN remains a “high growth and important market” for Sophos with customer spending share “well balanced” across the vendor’s endpoint, network, cloud and cyber security services portfolio.

“Sophos’ vision in the region is to continue to deliver superior cyber security outcomes for organisations of all sizes with our partners,” he added.

Specifically, Struthers said Lee and her team will prioritise the delivery of cyber security-as-a-service to meet the “growing demand” for 24/7 monitoring, detection and response capabilities.

“This growing need speaks to today’s reality for organisations, which is that ‘cyber security has become too hard, too complex and changes too fast for the vast majority of organisations to keep up’,” Struthers told Channel Asia.

“This is true globally and for ASEAN as not only are we seeing threats increase and attack velocity remaining high, but the industry is facing significant skills shortages of cyber security experts to address this problem effectively.”

Channel-centric cyber expertise

Lee -- who was honoured as a finalist at the Channel Asia Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in 2020 -- assumes the role with more than 25 years of industry experience following senior leadership and partner management roles at Kaspersky, Blue Coat Systems, Microsoft, Citrix and Plantronics.

“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a digital transformation already underway across most organisations, borne from necessity of businesses needing to operate in a very different world,” Lee observed.

“Customers needed to be served digitally and remotely, and employees needed to remain productive despite needing to work from home. The nature of an organisation’s network changed fundamentally, and the protection of a traditional secure network perimeter could no longer be relied on.

“Security teams found themselves running to keep up with this unprecedented speed of digital transformation and, in many cases, were unable to.”

As noted by Lee, such market dynamics either limited a business’ ability to change at the required speed, or resulted in increased risk exposure to threats such as data theft and ransomware -- evident by 72 per cent of organisations in ASEAN suffering a ransomware attack in 2021, according to Sophos State of Ransomware Report 2022.

Yet as attacks and budgets increase, Lee advised customers to seek third-party expertise in the form of a partner ecosystem housing deep levels of cyber specialisation in the region.

“The amount of work facing security teams is increasing, but hiring more experts isn’t possible nor is it the answer,” Lee stated. “The solution is to enable fewer people to be more productive and this is how Sophos is supporting businesses to build out their cyber security strategies and defences.

“For many organisations, it doesn’t make sense to have a team of highly skilled security threat hunters and incident responders to protect their business 24/7 every day of the year -- that is what is required though. It isn’t a coincidence that most attacks take place in the early hours of a weekend.”

All-in on MSPs

In assessing the ASEAN landscape, Lee noted Sophos’ “strong presence” across all customer segments, traditionally spanning SMB to mid-market but now including enterprise in response to heightened attack levels.

Supporting such efforts will be an expanding partner ecosystem -- notably managed service providers (MSPs) -- and on-the-ground presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, plus increased focus on Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea markets.

“The channel is our priority across ASEAN,” Lee confirmed. “Nobody understands customers’ requirements, challenges and priorities as well as our partners do. As cyber security becomes more complex, we see a huge interest in packaged managed services, which our partners can address leveraging Sophos Managed Threat Response and Sophos Rapid Response in an MSP format.”

Building out managed services capabilities in response to evolving customer buying patterns ranks as a leading priority for channel partners across Southeast Asia, as the ecosystem embraces subscription-based selling.

According to EDGE Research -- commissioned by Channel Asia and delivered in partnership with Tech Research Asia -- growing annuity revenue currently stands tall as the no.1 strategic objective for value-added resellers, system integrators and solution providers in the region.

Within this context, 61 per cent of partners ASEAN-wide are undergoing a “significant change” in how business operations are run, with 71 per cent developing a new strategic plan as a direct result of COVID-19.

“Partners in ASEAN understand the need for urgent change,” observed Mark Iles, executive analyst of Tech Research Asia. “Building annuity revenues is a positive step forward and means partners don’t have to press the reset button every year and take revenue back to zero.”

Ran in conjunction with Channel Asia and Tech Research Asia, the in-depth research surveyed more than 100 partners based in ASEAN, spanning the key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Findings offer the clearest and most objective indication yet that technology providers are finally overhauling business models to maximise OPEX investments, following years of market intention rather than decisive action.

“Sophos MSP partners can easily deploy, manage and sell Sophos services across on-premise, private and public cloud environments through a single management console,” Lee added.

“This enables MSP partners to minimise their operational costs while providing the highest level of proactive security for their customers – increasing the customer’s security posture while reducing their own costs, leading to higher profitability and customer satisfaction.”