Now, I’m not much of a networker. I do however enjoy solving problems – even tricky ones. On moving to Jersey I spotted just such a problem – there seem to be quite a few of us who work in information security related roles, and nothing much to bring us together.
So, while I’ve never felt any great desire to get involved in the profession in Yorkshire where there are plenty of people doing just this, there’s a need for something here.
I pulled out my linkedin password, contacted as many people as I could, and with some help found 55 people working in security or related fields in Jersey and Guernsey, all of whom thought it was important we tried to solve this problem. I’ll post the full results of the survey in due course.
Of course, I expected there would be some criticism. In particular, I expected this:
I think that this is an admirable endeavour but that at the moment most business’ focus is primarily upon ‘staying alive’ or winning business. With the declining Financial Services Industry everyone is under threat, heightened focus upon what many Business Owners will perceive as ‘more red tape and governance’ may leave a sour taste – in my honest opinion.
This is for us to change – security can be a source of competitive advantage (something the UK Cyber Security strategy explicitly acknowledges) but delivering that is hard. Demonstrating it is even harder.
What I really didn’t expect was:
I think there is a risk that the individuals who put them selves forward for running such organisations will do so to satisfy their own ego and CV requirements, a bit like over preened Linked profiles and obsession with professional networking.
Having spent 10 years in local politics I’ve come to expect – and accept – a good kicking. There is a view that if you put your name out there to get something done, you must be in it for yourself. Well to some extent we all are – it will be good for me to have better professional development opportunities on the island, just as it will for everyone else. However, that doesn’t make it a bad idea, or make it any less a good thing to do.
Of course, the safe thing to do is nothing at all because any time you do something, someone will always mutter about it. And, well, that’s disappointing sometimes but it doesn’t much matter either.
So, just to be clear. I’ve spent just enough time in the public eye to know it counts for nothing at the end of the day. I’ve done just enough self-promotion to know it has no lasting benefit. However, I’ve also done – and seen others do – enough worthwhile projects to know that if you don’t do it, often no-one will. And when you do stand up and say ‘I’ll do it then’, the results can provide a lasting benefit for generations. A colleague of mine set up an annual charity walk on the back of a similar informal discussion among friends many years ago. In due course it will raise a million for charity. It’s hard not to be inspired by that.
What matters is whether we make a difference. At work, in our professional life, at home, wherever – to try to leave our small part of the world in a slightly better state than we found it in.
If we can make something happen in the security space in the Channel Islands, we’ll give everyone better opportunities to learn and develop their professional skills, make security a more fun thing to do by building a wider community around it, and give the islands the opportunity to develop a stronger cyber-security capability and competence.
Now that would be something, wouldn’t it?
And we can do it together.