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ETC Alumnus: Gazmend Huskaj shares his insights on the recent Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in Geneva

GCSP Alumni are driven leaders, prompting a worldwide change in global peace and security. In this section, we wish to demonstrate how our graduates make a positive impact on communities and the world. In this edition, Gazmend Huskaj (ETC 2013 Alumnus), shares his insights on the recent Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in Geneva.

Alumni Affairs: It was a great pleasure to run into you again at the Maison de la paix. You are here for the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge organized by the GCSP and the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative from 5 to 6 April. What is your current post now and for which reason are you attending this event?

Gazmend Huskaj: It was a great pleasure meeting you as well. I am currently engaged in a PhD project in Cyber Operations at the Swedish Defence University. Based on various sources, ISACA predicts that an additional two million cyber security professionals are required by 2019. The IT- and Telecom-companies in Sweden stated in a report that Sweden will need an additional 70 000 Cyber Security professionals by 2022. In addition, there is also a need for professionals who know and understand Cyber Policy. With this in mind, the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge organised by the GCSP and the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative is a must attend to follow the developments in this area.

Alumni Affairs: You are an alumnus of the European Training Course in Security Policy (ETC) 2013. What has marked you most during the ETC?

Gazmend Huskaj: What marked me the most was the ability to meet non-European participants and hear about their perspectives on various challenges. I had the opportunity to meet two representatives from North Korea and one from China. In addition, I met representatives from countries like Azerbaijan, Iraq and Tunisia. Listening to their challenges on different topics increased my understanding of their perspective on national, regional, and global challenges. The result is an increased understanding of the complex dynamics that exist.

Alumni Affairs: What did you learn during the course that you were able to use in your professional context at home?

Gazmend Huskaj: During my attendance, I had two goals: the first was to accumulate as much knowledge as possible on all the topics, and the second was to increase my skills.

Accumulating knowledge on the increased interconnectedness between countries, their dependence and impact on security, is one example of what I learned during the course. I used this knowledge when analysing and assessing various cyber-related threats to Swedish national interests.

Skillwise, my intent was to increase my skill being an active listener during each presentation and, based on the information that was presented, draft three questions which could have been asked after the presentation. I did not always ask all of the questions, but training the skill to listen, process the incoming information and devising questions is something that I have found of immense value in my career.

Alumni Affairs: Do you still believe in the same principles as you did when you first entered the GCSP? 

Gazmend Huskaj: I had certain principles as a result of the work I did in the United Nations. However, the focus was on the mission area, the region, and political decisions that were taken locally, regionally and internationally and how these decisions would affect the safety and security of UN staff, assets and operations. In other words, I was looking through the world from a UN-safety and security lens. After the ETC17, that lens became even clearer when I realised how complex things are. For example, we had an exercise where two parties were conducting peace talks to resolve a conflict. This was really educational in attempting to achieve consensus because the International community, the various ethnic groups, and the media, were pressuring the governments of these two fictional nations to agree on a peace agreement and end the conflict, so people could get back and build their lives. This example, together with all of the other modules that we had, made a huge impact.

Alumni Affairs: How would you describe the GCSP to a friend/colleague.

Gazmend Huskaj: I heard about the GCSP during my time in the United Nations, sometime in 2007. However, I was unable to attend at that time due to work. But I had high expectations. Six years later the opportunity was offered by the Swedish Ministry of Defence, and I took that opportunity. Those high expectations that I had of the GCSP, based only on the information that existed on the web-page, were realised. The GCSP offers an environment, expertise, and network, that you cannot find in any other place in the world. The reason to this is twofold: the first is Geneva and the second is GCSP’s mission.

Geneva is the only city in the world where people from any place in the world, involved in any conflict in the world, can come to and discuss issues they may have to resolve them.

GCSP’s objective, to bring people from every industry and nation together so they can learn, exchange ideas and find sustained opportunities in these uncertain times was really achieved. For example, during the ETC17, we had 81 or 82 experts presenting in a range various topics and fields. To my knowledge, there is no other organisation in the world that offers a holistic approach to security and geopolitical issues in this like the GCSP does.

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