Inspiring the next generation of strategic cyber security professionals

Rob Partridge, Head of commercial development, Security, BT.


“Hey Google…..Set an alarm for 6:30AM and play BBC Radio 2”

“OK – I’ve set an alarm called BBC Radio at 2 AM”

“Hey Google…Cancel alarm”

“OK – I’ve cancelled your alarm”

“Hey Google….Play BBC Radio 2 at 6:30 AM”

“I’m sorry – I don’t know how to do that”

So, I resort to my 1980’s clock radio that’s still going strong in order to get me out of bed in the morning. You see, technology is not always the answer.

Although, it can be pretty amazing. There’s technology that will (almost) self-drive cars, get detailed pictures of the inside of our bodies, allow us to talk to anyone on the planet with a phone from anywhere on the planet. And even, in the last few weeks, take detailed photographs of objects just outside of our solar system.

The problem with technology, though, is that it doesn’t just develop itself.

It’s the same in cyber security. In our industry, we have some amazingly clever people who can test, develop, hack and control systems so that we keep our electronic physical estates, plus our information, secure.

But we need more than that.

As our industry grows, we need more talented people who understand the strategy of cyber security so that we know how to develop our organisations, and our country’s security, over the coming years to stay ahead of the bad guys. We need talented policy makers so that we find a good balance between security and usability. We need lawyers and legal people to set laws so that citizens are safe and protected. We need people who can understand marketing and delivery strategies to make sure new technology is adopted and used throughout the industry. And we need an army of HR people, managers and all the other skills that make an organisation work.

But overall, all those people – whatever their specific skill - need to understand security. They need to understand how the multiple facets of security work. They need to understand our adversaries. And they need to understand how the technology we use is reliant on the non-technical professions.

We’re privileged to be hosting the 2019 Cyber 9/12 competition at the BT Tower where we’ll test the non-technical skills of some of the most talented students in the country. These are people that have probably decided they’d like to pursue a career in the security industry. But they’re probably not penetration testers or security analysts. They’re students of law, politics, maths, finance and journalism. They’re people who’ll be critical to the success of the security industry as it continues to grow. They’re people who’ll help shape, guide and develop the technology that’ll keep our organisations and countries safe in the future.

There has been a focus over the last few years on closing the cyber skills gap by developing and discovering technical talent. This is a good thing, but it shouldn’t be the only thing we do. The security Industry needs to remember that in order for highly talented, technological individuals to be successful in the cyber wars, they need an army of security savvy strategy and policy makers working with them. Competitions like Cyber 9/12 will help find that talent and inspire the next generation of non-technical security professionals.

By the way, if you want to make your Google home device wake you up to the sound of Zoe Ball in the morning, you simply need to set it to speak in an American accent, and it works perfectly!


For more information on security careers at BT, please visit www.bt.com/securitycareer 


About Rob Partridge

Rob Partridge is well known in the UK Security industry as an esteemed Learning and Development professional. He’s often quoted in the UK national press regarding issues like the cyber skills gap and high unemployment rates in computer science. He is passionate about creating the cyber workforce of the future, and has introduced cyber security as a profession to thousands of school students in the UK, inspiring them to think about security as a profession in the future. He is a member of various employer panels for development of learning solutions (specifically apprenticeships and neurodiversity). Rob is also a visiting professor in Cyber Security Education at DeMontfort University as well as being fire fighter with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue service. In his spare time enjoys running half marathons, competing in triathlons and, more peacefully, scuba diving.

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