Part of the IT Leaders 100 - a list of the most influential IT leaders in the UK in 2023.
Ian has over 20 years of information and cyber security experience at all levels; is a published author, magazine and journal article writer; and a keynote speaker and thought leader at international conferences on the subject of information & cyber security. He holds various security certifications and memberships and has extensive knowledge and experience of all aspects of information security, from the technical through to strategic and compliance.
Today Ian leads information and cybersecurity at Upp, and in the past has held similar roles at Royal BAM Group and KCOM.
How did you get into IT?
I've always had a fascination for anything technical, and when affordable home computers first came out I was in awe of the possibilities, and had to have one . I taught myself the technology and programming. Although I was working at BT at the time, I so wanted to work with computers. There was a computer store in the town I lived in at the time and one afternoon I just walked in and asked if they had any jobs going.
How do you ensure diversity is taken into account in your IT recruitment?
I don't. I have no preconceptions or prejudices about people I interview for roles. I choose the best candidate for the roles I'm recruiting for, based on their knowledge, experience, enthusiasm, capability, qualifications, drive, etc. The last two big teams I've recruited have been extremely diverse, not because I explicitly set out to achieve diversity, it just happened organically through my choosing the best people for the jobs.
Which technology are you currently most excited by?
I find AI both exciting and slightly terrifying at the same time. AI offers phenomenal opportunities for good, however if reality isn't distorted enough already on the internet, as systems like ChatGPT learn from it, there is a likelihood they will amplify or distort their learning from false or misleading information.
What would an outsider find the most surprising part of your job?
Cyber security is a job you can't just put down or switch off from. It is in reality 24/7, because you are always thinking or worrying about it. I've been in senior Internet service provider roles where we directly, or indirectly through our customers, have been under attack relentlessly and non-stop, which tends to make you slightly paranoid.
What's your secret talent?
I played drums in heavy rock bands for over 10 years, and gigged around the country from pubs to Donnington Park. I hit the drums pretty hard, and at one big gig, the back line was so loud I couldn't hear my own drums. I had to get them fed through my stage monitors to hear them, which is probably why I'm now partially deaf.
What makes you laugh?
As sad as it sounds I'm a big fan of the TV show Benidorm, and have binge watched the entire 74 episodes run more times than I care to remember. It's on my bucket list to spend a week at the Sol Pelicanos Ocas Hotel in Benidorm, where it was filmed.