EY to double its cybersecurity staff in China to meet surging demand

Maggie Zhang
EY to double its cybersecurity staff in China to meet surging demand

Professional services firm EY plans to double its cybersecurity services headcount in China in 18 months to meet the needs of businesses in tackling cyber threats as their operations become more digitalised, according to EY’s global cybersecurity services head.

The firm expects to have 300 dedicated cybersecurity specialists in China within 18 months, doubling the payroll now, said Paul van Kessel, global head of cybersecurity services at EY, in an interview in Shanghai.

EY’s cybersecurity services business has grown by 50 per cent this year from last in the Asia-Pacific region, outpacing growth in Europe and the US, with China one of the fastest growing markets in the region.

“In the next two or three years, we are definitely in that hyper growth mood [in China],” he said.

The company has already extend its cybersecurity business from analytics and consulting to implementation and management, with the pace expected to speed up in China.

Another impetus for growth would come from possible acquisitions in China.

“We have not done an acquisition in cybersecurity in China yet, we are looking for acquisitions in China as well,” he said.

Earlier this year, EY acquired Australian internet security specialist firm Open Windows to help create a centralised advisory platform for its clients in the region, in the wake of the “WannaCry” virus attack that affected 200,000 computers in 30,000 organisations across 120 countries.

EY now has cybersecurity advisory services in eight cities in China and aims to further grow its footprint in the segment, said Richard Watson, EY’s cybersecurity services head for the Asia-Pacific region.

“Our growth is really just limited by our own ability to hire people and on-board new services because the market demand that we see out there far exceeds our ability to serve the market at the moment,” said Watson. “There’s plenty of opportunities for us to grow our practices significantly as we really try to find good people to recruit both in Shanghai and all the major cities in China.”

Recruiting data has shown that cybersecurity specialists are among the most sought-after talent in China. Cyber specialists can get average pay increments of between 25 per cent and 35 per cent, five percentage points higher than other jobs in information technology in China, according to the data from global recruiting firm Hays.

A separate report from Zhaopin.com, a major online recruitment website, showed that demand for cybersecurity staff in China rose 232 per cent year on year in the first six months of this year.

The surge was the most evident in February, the peak job-hopping season, with an annual increase of 327 per cent, Zhaopin said.

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