'I wanted to be Robocop, Arnie in The Predator, and of course, Lt. Ripley' - 15 Questions with Covea Insurance Transformation Manager Lianne Potter

Tom Allen
clock • 4 min read

Potter faces Computing's '15 Questions', and tells us about her fascination with the digital divide, cybersecurity and Arnold Schwarznegger

Lianne Potter, Information Security Transformation Manager at Covea Insurance, had an unusual route into tech: through anthropology, rather than coding. She freely admits she's fallen in love with cybersecurity, and uses her experience to understand the all-important people side of IT.

Potter is the latest IT leader to take on Computing's '15 Questions' series. Other respondents include Asda CIO Anna BarsbyVMLY&R Global CIO Trevor Attridge and RSA Group CIO David Germain.

What job did you want to do as a child?

Being a child of the 80s and 90s I had access to VHS tapes that I was far too young to watch but really enjoyed! Every film I'd watch I get it in my head that they were viable career choices! So based on that logic, when I was a kid I wanted to be Robocop, Arnie's character Dutch in The Predator, and of course, Lt. Ripley a la Aliens.

What was your first ever job?

I had very brief stint working in a tanning salon. The only problem was, I was going through my goth phase at the time, so my very pale complexion wasn't the best advert for their services!

How would you describe your current work to a 5-year-old kid?

Just like you need to learn how you tie your shoes, or ride a bike, I teach people how to be safe online and how to have nice strong passwords.

How, why and when did you get into technology?

I got into tech in my early 30s. I was fascinated by the ‘Digital Divide' and studied it formally at Masters level as an anthropologist. Driven by the desire to do ‘tech for good', I wanted to get hands-on in the industry in order to make a positive impact, so decided to teach myself how to code. Within six months I was job ready and I've not looked back since.

Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to work/business?

People always laugh when I say this, but Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's a very goal driven person and one thing that always sticks in my head is when he says, ‘Don't plan for plan B. There is no plan B.' That always reminds me that if I want to do something, I should make it happen. Considering all the career changes he's had and how much he has excelled in all the areas he's tried his hand in, I can't think of anyone in business that is more inspiring.  

What achievement makes you most proud?

The first time I taught a room full of people how to create a website from scratch as part of the adult code clubs I hosted. It was great to have people who had never written a line of code before, prove to themselves that they can be technical. It was even better when some of those attendees said it inspired them to retrain for a career in tech.

What's the best life and work advice you've ever been given?

Only you can move your career forward so if you're doing something well, then you should shout about it. I was told, people are too busy thinking about their own lives/careers to really think about yours, so don't wait for someone else to acknowledge you.

What was the first band you ever saw?

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - although I can tell you absolutely nothing about them or the event as my friend was the fan and I just went a long because there was a free ticket! I haven't listened to them since!

What is your favourite book / film?

Ghostbusters

If you could speak to your teenage self, what advice would you give her?

That SPF is really working, keep it up! Also, buy shares in Amazon.

What makes you laugh?

I still wipe laughing tears from my eyes when I watch Caddyshack.

If you could solve one major problem, what would it be?

Internet Addiction. I can remember a time when I didn't even have a computer; now I struggle not to make my phone the last thing and first thing I touch everyday. I think we are all on the spectrum of internet addiction somewhere.

Think of your favourite place. Where are you thinking of?

Cornwall.

What traits do you most like and dislike in others?

Like - People who bring solutions rather than problems

Dislike - Those who hoard knowledge (gatekeepers)

Which technology of the near future are you most excited about?

Driverless cars, as I really hate driving but like travelling!

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