Starting as an IT auditor in the mid-2000s, Trevor Axiak could not have foreseen his future as the Director and Founder of Kyte Global, an operation serving clients in regulated industries across 67 countries. In a world of ever more stringent compliance requirements, risk management has never been more relevant – a reality that Kyte Global is positioned to meet through ongoing adaptation that reflects a rapidly developing industry.

Looking back on the early days of Kyte Global in 2006, Trevor Axiak recalls, “I didn’t always envision a career as an IT auditor, but at the time, gaming was just starting to make its mark on Malta, opening up new possibilities for me to apply my IT skills to fresh terrain.

“That’s when my then-business partner Alan Alden and I decided to set up Kyte. I was 16 years younger back then, but even though it was all new to me, it felt like the right time to take the leap and grasp those opportunities. We wanted to be at the forefront of the industry – and we were – fast becoming local pioneers of consulting, licensing and IT auditing services for the burgeoning gaming sector.”

Establishing and managing Kyte was and remains Trevor’s biggest project to date, as it continues to evolve and adapt alongside the industry. Reflecting on Kyte’s growth from a fledgling enterprise to a robust player in information security and compliance, Trevor shares, “it’s rewarding to see how much we’ve achieved over the years. The company has transformed significantly and is now almost unrecognisable from when we first started. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days when I used to do almost everything myself, which is reflected in the scale of our projects and type of clientele.”

Establishing and managing Kyte was and remains Trevor’s biggest project to date, as it continues to evolve and adapt alongside the industry. Reflecting on Kyte’s growth from a fledgling enterprise to a robust player in information security and compliance, Trevor shares, “it’s rewarding to see how much we’ve achieved over the years. The company has transformed significantly and is now almost unrecognisable from when we first started. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days when I used to do almost everything myself, which is reflected in the scale of our projects and type of clientele.”

For the past few years, Trevor’s role has shifted from direct involvement in client-facing projects to that of director, requiring him to oversee all the company’s operations, which he enjoys. “I’m now in the privileged position of seeing all the different parts come together and understanding how various roles within the company relate to each other,” he explains.

Trevor likes to employ an open-door policy with his staff, upholding a work environment where employees feel like family. “People spend as much time in the office with colleagues as they do at home with family,” he says, “which is why I prioritise respect and friendship in our team, that spills over into the work we do and the service clients receive from us. As a customercentric operation, we can’t give our best service unless the people working together to deliver that service share a good rapport.”

Musing on his job’s demands, Trevor cites human resources as one that takes up more of his time than he would like – from the care needed to deal with individual characters to resourcing, which was Kyte’s biggest challenge in 2023. “Losing key people is always a struggle as training is critical to what we do, and we invest a lot of time, money and effort into building our in-house expertise. It’s never easy to replace experienced team members, but I also know that this is a national issue far from unique to Kyte,” he observes.

Notwithstanding the obstacles, Kyte continues to grow and diversify its portfolio of services in the same way it always has – by being quick to react to its clients’ needs. These, in turn, are mostly shaped by ongoing developments in compliance. “What started as a humble business objective to perform IT audits for gaming companies evolved into something much bigger from the moment clients started approaching us for help to obtain licences and establish their businesses in Malta. Soon enough, we became the leading local consultants for licensing and gaming compliance,” Trevor explains.

“This pushed us to develop our expertise in payment compliance and certifying businesses for compliance to the PCI DSS – the standard for companies that process credit card data. We were the first ones – and are still the only ones in Malta – to become a qualified card schemes assessor for credit card companies.” He adds that this move opened exciting doors for Kyte, exposing the business to new technologies and clients with different needs, as well as helping it go international.

Most of Kyte’s services are triggered by emerging industry obligations introduced at the EU level – from new laws around GDPR and AML to Swift compliance and PCI DSS. These typically require clients to comply with new standards or regulations, prompting them to reach out to Kyte as “their first and only port of call”. And what is Kyte’s approach to handling such requests? “We figure it out, develop our people’s expertise in that area, build a department around it and then add that compliance service to our portfolio for the benefit of all clients,” Trevor shares.

“Our services are always client-led because they guide us forward in the industry based on their needs. They come to us because they expect us to be experts in every aspect of compliance, and we try not to let them down. This is how our services have grown, and that’s probably how they’ll continue to grow for the foreseeable future,” he asserts.

To this end, acting on growing industry concerns around cybersecurity, last August, Kyte launched its Incident Response and Forensics service. Commenting on the security weaknesses Kyte has seen across many companies’ IT systems, Trevor remarks, “while business processes have matured in recent years, many still view information security as a box to be ticked and do not have robust systems in place. They naïvely believe they will never come under attack – a reality that is, sadly, no longer a matter of if but when,” he warns. “Even worse, they underestimate the serious damage a security breach could cause, not only when it comes to theft of IP and funds or loss of revenue while systems are down, but also in terms of loss of reputation.”

Through this new service, Kyte’s InfoSec experts intervene immediately in the event of an attack and work to resolve the issue, contain the damage and help companies recover their systems in the shortest time possible (sometimes even getting involved in negotiations where ransomware is concerned). This could also involve legal and court cases that require forensic investigation, which clients are not usually equipped to handle themselves.

Reflecting on the diversification of services in response to clients’ changing needs and industry developments, Trevor anticipates that Kyte will continue to grow into and beyond the year ahead. As he observes, “compliance is not on the decrease but on the increase – so the greater the compliance obligations imposed on companies, the greater the demand for our services.” What’s more, the payment industry has continued to flourish ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing good business for Kyte at a time when the gaming industry suffered.

Trevor reveals that the business growth Kyte has seen over the last year augurs well for the three-year growth strategy the company has been busy preparing these past months – one that will see Kyte implement new structures, processes, resources, and technology to prepare for the expected growth.

“We’re definitely going to continue doing all that we’re doing now, but we also look forward to growing further, building our team with the right people in key positions, launching new services, strengthening our current markets, and extending our reach to Asia by expanding our partnership model,” he shares, adding that they are also eager to offer their services around the implementation of the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) – a recent regulation that creates a comprehensive IT risk management framework for the EU’s financial sector.

With so much going on and yet more to come, Trevor is clearly excited about Kyte’s future and is working hard to set it up for continued long-term success: “as we see more opportunities all around us, we are making sure to invest in the right infrastructure, so that when growth comes, we are prepared to meet it.”

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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