Interviews Magazine Security

CONNECT Interview: Charlie van Genuchten, SURF

CLAW 2022 Crisis Management Workshop

CONNECT meets Charlie van Genuchten, Product Manager Security from SURF to talk about CLAW, the Crisis Management workshop for the GÉANT community. Launched in 2017, the CLAW event has progressively gathered momentum within the European NRENs, and beyond, with record participation also during the pandemic years. This year CLAW will take place in person at PSNC in Poznan, Poland on 29 and 30 November.

Charlie van Genuchten, SURF
Charlie van Genuchten, Product Manager Security at SURF

The importance of crisis management has been growing exponentially within the NREN community in recent years, could you summarise some of the main causes?

I think there are a few different reasons behind this. It all began in 2016 when different community groups started raising awareness of this subject. I know that the Special Interest Group for Marcomms was one of the first groups to discuss the need for better crisis management, then other SIGs and Task Forces followed suit. Our collaboration with members from these communities gave life to CLAW in 2017.

The second reason, I think, is that ‘crisis’ has become a much less theoretical concept for everybody since the COVID-19 pandemic. We used to have a slide or two on the definition of the term crisis at the first couple of CLAW events, as people luckily did not have a lot of personal experience in this matter. Nowadays, we all instinctively understand what a crisis is, as we just lived through one, and we have seen how good and bad crisis preparation and communication can affect individuals and organisations.

Why do crisis management planning and preparedness matter?

When a crisis hits, you will always encounter and experience situations for the very first time, finding yourself in very stressful settings and under time pressure. The only way to make sure that you can keep thinking clearly and work well together is to have a process in place that you have practiced and tested a few times. This way, everyone knows what their role and responsibility are and which first steps to take. In the end, it will not prepare you for everything a crisis might throw at you, but it gives you a head start during those first few hours of a crisis that are always so crucial.

For those unfamiliar with CLAW, could you provide a brief overview of the event? How do you explain its popularity?

CLAW is a two-day crisis management event for all the people from NRENs who are (or could be) part of their organisation’s crisis procedure. During CLAW, participants gain new insights through the keynote presentations, acquire new skills in parallel training sessions, exchange experiences and materials and ultimately test all their new-found skills and knowledge in the crisis exercise at the end of the event. I think the popularity of CLAW is due to the involvement and dedication of many people from different parts of our community. We have no other event where we successfully and actively manage to engage both techies, comms people, and management in the same discussion. Another factor is that we have an amazingly creative team that make the crisis exercises very fun and inspiring each year.

NRENs are all different in terms of maturity, resources, size etc. How can CLAW help address an NREN’s specific needs?

One of the people in my team once made this comparison to define the way CLAW helps individual NRENs: CLAW is like a football camp. Individual footballers can come to that camp to enhance their skills and play matches with other players from different teams to see how they all play. After the camp, everyone goes home to their own team and is able show them their new tricks and gameplays.

However, just like a football camp, CLAW does not go into the specific NREN team’s needs and procedures. In the end, teams will have to perform some additional exercises and play more matches to ensure the home-team is well prepared in their own environment. That is why we will be organising regional workshops (in addition to CLAW) from next year onwards, to help NRENs with their specific crisis management procedures.

What is in store for the participants of CLAW 2022?

CLAW 2022 will start with a keynote from Dmitry Kohmanyuk about the struggle to keep the .ua top domain running during the first days of the attacks on Ukraine. Then, all participants will split into groups to attend a session on either Leadership in Crisis, How to Deal with the Media, or Crisis Analysis. We will end the first day with a crisis management procedure sharing session and a working dinner. On day two, participants will be put to the test in our exciting crisis exercise.

For further information about CLAW 2022 visit:

To register go to:

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