As co-founder and CEO of Hornetsecurity, Oliver Dehning splits his time between Hannover, Germany — where the company is based — and Pittsburgh, its North American headquarters. A pioneering leader in the growing field of cloud-based email security, Hornetsecurity provides critical services to businesses around the globe. Find out why Dehning — who grew up in the German town of Quakenbrück in Lower Saxony — says the Burgh is “growing on him.”

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

I’m looking forward to seeing Pittsburgh during the holidays. Christmastime is huge in Europe and in Germany, so it’s fun to see how other countries celebrate. I know Pittsburgh has many events Downtown and celebrates the season as well as any other place in the world.

Next year, I plan to spend a weekend in Paris to watch the French Open tennis tournament at Roland-Garros with my wife. We both play tennis and love the sport.

Oliver Dehning. Photo by Brian Kaldorf.

What is your big idea for Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh could be a global IT security hub. The infrastructure exists with the universities, tech culture and homegrown talent pool. Carnegie Mellon University, in fact, is a national leader in the sector. It’s just a matter of getting people to stay here with a commitment to investing in this region. We’re thrilled to have a footprint in the city, and we know it’s possible for the sector to grow even more here.

This is especially important, as local governments and businesses have been susceptible to cyberattacks, especially phishing attacks, which are increasingly common, easy to fall prey to and simple to avoid — as long as employees know what to look for in their inboxes.

Training to recognize bad messages is important, yes, but groups can easily protect themselves with the proper services, such as the products we provide. Cloud-based email security is proven as an effective and low-cost solution. Advanced spam and threat protection, as well as robust encryption measures, ensure organizations of any size can have elite security. We’ve been a pioneer in the use of the cloud to facilitate these types of solutions, and we’ve seen firsthand the difference it makes.

What is the best part of your job?

I have the opportunity to meet and work with people from many different parts of the world. When you do that, you find that there are good people everywhere, whatever their origin, nationality, race, religion, gender — these things just don’t matter.

Favorite Pittsburgh brewery?

Trick question: They’re all my favorite. It’s a superb city for beer. Penn Brewery is great. Being German, I know a bit about beer.

Oliver Dehning at a meeting of the German American Chamber of Commerce’s Pittsburgh Chapter.

What’s been bugging you lately?

Our western societies are under stress. The upper and the lower ends are drifting apart — in the United States, in my home country and in other European countries. Aggression and hate are on the rise, resulting in attacks on innocent people. It’s something that should bug all of us.

What’s one big thing you would love to change about Pittsburgh?

More direct flights to Germany! It’s tough being a semi-regular European commuter here, but I understand the airport is preparing for some big renovations, so it’s good to know there’s a commitment to improvement in that regard.

Write three words to describe Pittsburgh:

Authentic. Innovative. Beautiful.

It’s time to unwind. Where do you head?

The mountains for some skiing. I just love the hobby. It might sound stereotypical for a German, but there’s a reason we do it — it’s very freeing and keeps you in good shape.

What question do you wish we’d have asked?

How do you say “I love Pittsburgh” in German? For what it’s worth, it’s “Ich liebe Pittsburgh.”

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