Will you hack my phone? I ask.
“Privacy is dead. Nowadays, it’s knowing what to share, and not all the time,” he says.
Dr Bright Gameli Mawudor is a cybersecurity tsar, with a PhD (which he got at 28) in IT Convergence and Application Engineering with a concentration in Information Security from Pukyong National University, South Korea.
Have things turned out as expected at his age? “Unexpectedly. For instance, I founded Africahackon nine years ago, the first-ever hands-on cyber security conference in East Africa that aims to bring awareness with live demonstrations of how hacking happens, which has since grown into a juggernaut, and it’s amazing to see children doing cybersecurity.”
"I don’t worry about things I have no control over."
Does he ever question himself? “Absolutely. I feel like I can do a lot more. But then again, I am swamped. How can I give back to the community on cybersecurity and data analytics?”
He treats cybersecurity the way you treat your favourite sweater: He leaves it on without thinking about it. He credits his mentors: his dad, Tyrus Kamau (Cellulant), Diana Mulili, and Kris Senanu, who hails from his hometown of Ghana.
Being a perfectionist, he struggles with detachment. He is learning delegation, learning to trust other people, which is not bizarre for a man who defines success as achieving goals written down through careful planning. “Success never ends, you can always enhance it.”
Does working in cybersecurity make him overly cautious? “I am chilled but I am cautious on what I click on, and what people send to me.”
He speaks in philosophical zest: “Cybersecurity and people are alike: both are dynamic and both know there is never 100 percent security, there is always a vulnerability to systems, to people.” “People think cybersecurity is all about hacking but it is more about strategy, the right tools, the right people, not just commands. And by the way, I am terrible at coding.”
He grew up wanting to be a software developer, going on to write a virus lock at St. Mary’s School so no one could use the computer before him. “Quite evil, but I had to find ways to get an advantage.”
For a man who is ever dealing with worry, is there anything he is not worried about? “You know Gameli, my name, means God’s time is the best. Recently, I lost a job opportunity, and I took it in stride. I don’t worry about things I have no control over.”
He is a tactician, more than a rouser or a cajoler or a motivator.
“I want to leave an impression on people. My youngest mentee is 17 years, and he challenges me. When people talk cybersecurity, I want my name thrown in the conversation.”
Is there a question he gets tired of being asked? “Yes. What time do I sleep?” Well, what time do you sleep? “I sleep when sleep is there,” he says, as he dials in for another conference, the first in a series of mentorship webinars for the day.