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Creating Harmony: What Cyber, Insurance Pros Can Learn from Music


Music may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering the cybersecurity and insurance industries, but these industries could have more in common than it seems, according to guests on a recent episode of The Insuring Cyber Podcast.

“When it comes to helping people become aware of complex subjects that are maybe unengaging or a little bit boring, music is one of those things that we can learn from because people fall in love with music and listen to it for fun,” says Simeon Quarrie, owner of Vivida, an organization that develops learning initiatives and immersive storytelling to help break down complicated subjects in a way that they’re more easily understood.

Quarrie says when it comes to educating about the importance of proper cybersecurity, the industry has a lot to learn from music. “We can take information that is complex, or hard to remember, or boring,” he says, “and we can format it in a way so that it means something to the audience.”

He adds that this can be achieved by breaking cybersecurity down to its core, human elements. “What we’re actually talking about with cybersecurity when it comes to the human element is people’s safety, people’s wellbeing,” he says. “What we have to do is file off and smooth off the edges of an industry that looks sharp and angular and uninviting.”

Quarrie began his career as a filmmaker before founding Vivida and describes himself on social media as a storyteller. He says the cybersecurity industry initially didn’t seem inviting to him as a creative person, either.

“I didn’t expect to be in the cybersecurity industry,” he says. “I lean very much towards the creative, and I’m not excited by the zeros and the ones.”

All of that changed, however, when he realized how innovative and dynamic the industry can be, he says. Last year, he wrote an article for Help Net Security about watching his team compose music during a live composing session for a cybersecurity awareness project. It made him think about the relation between the cybersecurity and music industries and what these two fields may have in common.

“We do great work that has a really important impact,” he says. “And it would be sad to think that if I had thought about joining the [cybersecurity] industry in a very typical manner, I probably would never have gotten involved.”

For Jon Laux, vice president of analytics at CyberCube, it was a different path that led him to the intersection of cyber and music. Laux currently oversees CyberCube’s actuarial and cyber risk modeling teams, joining the company at the beginning of the year from Aon. In addition to his more than decade long career in cyber insurance, he also raps. And sometimes, he raps about cyber risk.

“I certainly didn’t see myself as creative for a long period of time. That was my sister who was the writer,” he says. “I think one of the things I’ve come to appreciate is that everybody has the potential to be creative. And I think the question is, do we recognize it? And can we honor different forms of creativity? And then, as individuals, can we take the risks to show our creativity?”

He says that the cyber insurance industry’s everchanging nature is one of the things that drew him to it.

“I love to learn,” he says. “I want the messy, dynamic, hard to solve problems. That’s the space I want to be in.”

That’s not only one of the things that has drawn him to rap music, as well, but also what he believes the cyber insurance industry can learn from rap.

“I’d say that the urgency and immediacy that is part of hip-hop is also part of how we interact with technology in general, and I think those are things that the insurance industry would do well to try to learn from,” he says. “I think rap does a good job of saying things clearly and pretty concisely. You’re not going to care about the fine print on page 14 of your policy. It’s like, ‘Tell me what it’s going to do. Tell me straight.'”

Both Laux and Quarrie say that the cyber and insurance industries would benefit from encouraging creativity in attracting and retaining talent. But for younger, creative professionals thinking about joining the cyber insurance field, is there a place for them?

“The short answer is yes,” Quarrie says. “100%.”

Laux agrees. “I think the workplace has recognized we need more diversity. We actually talk about that now as an industry, which didn’t necessarily used to be the case — diversity of background, of ways of thinking. I mean, people who are musical, if they also have the other skills, I think could certainly bring something to this space,” he says. “Just the idea of being willing to take risks and also kind of have a place where you’re encouraged to incubate your skills and try new things out.”

Blosfield is deputy editor of Carrier Management, a publication of Wells Media Group Inc. Email: eblosfield@wellsmedia.com

Check out this podcast episode to hear what more Quarrie and Laux have to say, and look for new episodes of The Insuring Cyber Podcast, published every other Wednesday along with the Insuring Cyber newsletter.