CYBERUK 2021: People are at the heart of cyber security
At CYBERUK 2021, some of our colleagues shared their experiences and thoughts on the importance of encouraging and embracing a broad range of talent and skills to address the skills gap in cyber.
‘Diversity is a matter of survival.’
Inge Bryan, Managing Director, NCC Group Europe
After studying history and specialising in warfare, Inge moved into intelligence and criminal investigations before joining the cyber security industry. Reflecting on her career in cyber security, she explains that the offensive cyber threat and division of labour is ‘growing and diversifying at an unprecedented speed.’ She cautions that our defensive capabilities are not keeping pace and that we need to draw on ‘everything that we have in society and ourselves’ to face the crisis and build a secure society.
Inge summarises by noting that ‘if everyone is the same, chances are their opinions and solutions are the same too.’ Instead, she emphasises that ‘we need all the creativity we can get’ from diverse perspectives to keep our digital systems and critical national infrastructures secure and resilient.
‘It’s about different perspectives.’
Ade Clewlow, Senior Advisor
Ade spent 25 years in the UK military in a range of physical environments in peace time and during operations before taking strategic communications and defence reform roles in East Africa and the Middle East. When asked why this background is important, Ade reflects that everything he’s done in his life has been focused on making a difference.
Through his diverse experiences in the military and post-military career, Ade has gained a different perspective on the world around him, enabling him to understand peoples’ motivations, recognise their strengths and weaknesses and apply those learnings to his role in cyber security. It means that working with customers is ‘so much more than a transaction’ for Ade. Instead, it’s the start of a relationship that will ultimately make a difference to society.
‘If we always hire the same profile, we can only ever do the same thing.’
Helen-Rose Whitehead, Head of Sales Enablement
With a track record of driving new initiatives to transform the growth of global sales environments, Helen-Rose has spent eight years leading teams within the cyber and tech industries. She explains that diversity matters to her as a woman in an underrepresented group in the industry, but also because everything that she’s passionate about is underpinned by innovation, change and encouraging people to thrive.
Helen-Rose advises that businesses could benefit from challenging and broadening their recruitment practices, explaining that diversity can be a key business enabler: “A company that actively seeks diversity in candidates will also have access to a wider talent pool, attract the very best talent and ultimately stay at the forefront of innovation and change.”
‘You will be embraced for who you are, what you are and what you stand for.’
Sanjay Patel, Service Delivery Manager
Sanjay joined the cyber security industry three years ago. He recalls that his limited understanding of cyber jargon, buzzwords and acronyms was evident during his first interview, but he quickly realised that a background in cyber was not essential as there were plenty of opportunities to learn on the job.
Sanjay explains that it does not matter what background you have, what age you are or what skills you have if you are determined to join the industry. He emphasises that all of an individual’s quirks and diverse ways of thinking can add value in cyber, in addition to any academic qualifications. Highlighting the apprenticeship route as ‘ideal,’ he reflects on his fulfilment and excitement from working with new apprentices and helping them to join the ‘big cyber security family.’ Thanks to Sanjay’s successful transition into the industry, he admits that he has ‘never looked back.’
‘I realised the industry has opportunities for all backgrounds.’
Lisa Wood, Operations Manager
In her previous role, Lisa headed up computer science in an educational institution, leading a team and teaching information technology (IT) to young, inquisitive 11-16 year olds. As the curriculum changed from IT to computer science, she was reminded of her passion for problem solving, her love of supporting people and her desire to make a difference.
Determined to work in cyber security but unsure of her skills, she joined capture the flag competitions, won a scholarship and joined the cyber security challenge UK programme. During this time, she learned technical skills and built a network of people in the industry, many of whom were willing to connect and offer advice.
Lisa explains that the skills she used in education have been useful in her cyber role. For example, good communication skills have enabled her to ‘explain technical solutions to a non-technical audience.’ She reflects that her passion, dedication and determination led her to gain a technical role at NCC Group where she learns something new every day and contributes to making the world a safer place.
‘Not everyone in the cyber security world needs to be a technical wizard’
Sue Lal, Business Development Manager
Sue has always been fascinated by the way in which technology impacts every part of our lives, having spent her entire career in client management roles in the technology sector. She explains that she has never coded, but thrives on ‘building trusted relationships, overcoming challenges and problem solving with customers and colleagues.’
Sue describes how these soft skills are important qualities because they demonstrate our ability to clients and how we work in partnership with a trusted team of individuals. She adds that ‘this helps them to understand the scale of their cyber security challenges,’ enabling us to deliver the effective solutions that support them in keeping their environment safe and secure.
Watch the full on-demand session here