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What are the issues facing “connecting the unconnected” in the African continent?

On Episode 1 of The Satellite & NewSpace Matters Podcast we were thrilled to welcome Scott Mumford, CEO of Liquid Telecom Satellite Services, and now CCO of Liquid Dataport. Scott has a very impressive 25 years of experience in the industry, starting as an Engineer through to C-Suite.  

We unpacked so many interesting topics in this episode, our favourite highlight is below! 

What do you think is the key to helping those without connectivity get connected? 

There are a number of factors, so I wish there was just one answer, because then it would be easy to deliver. The technology gap is, is one that we need to solve, for sure.  

If you look across the African continent, generally, there are hundreds of millions of people without access to the internet. Internet penetration rates across the continent are around sort of 34%, which is the lowest globally. Some of that comes from the sheer size of the continent.  

I think a lot of a lot of people see Africa on a map and go, “yeah, it’s relatively big”, but, the maps are quite deceptive – it’s vast. I’m sure we’ve all seen those maps, where you can see the US and India and China and Europe and everything all sort of fitting within the African continent from a landmass perspective.  

The second element of that is really where technology is gone. If you look at you, me, and everybody else, everything really has moved towards applications and handset-based usage. Banking, shopping, travel, you name it, are all pretty much done from a handheld device these days.  

And, that really hasn’t spread into the African continent, partly from a cost perspective. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, there’s no network because there are no handsets, and there are no handsets because there’s no network.  

So, where do you go first? But I also think, you know, a lot of those, a lot of countries around Africa are still very cash-based economies as well,  because of the lack of connectivity and devices, the move to a digital banking and finance sort of architecture hasn’t taken hold as yet, either.  Dealing with a number of currencies in physical cash is another complication, that that has to be overcome.  

It’s a multifaceted problem that isn’t just on the communications industry, or the satellite industry. It’s the banking sector, the manufacturers, it’s a big, big melting pot that everybody needs to put into.  

There’s a lot of progress going on there and satellite to sort of bringing it back, that’s playing a massive role in the sense that we’re seeing huge deployments of visa terminals and satellite terminals and satellite connectivity across the continent.  

To listen to the full episode, click here.  

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

How do you implement a culture of success through a set of shared values?

On Episode 5 of The Content & Media Matters Podcast we sat down with Bob Lyons, CEO of Edgio. With over 20 years of senior leadership experience, Bob has worked to scale businesses across the enterprise, cybersecurity, and now media and entertainment industries. Outside of work Bob is the founder and chairman of the Willow Street Foundation, which supports disadvantaged children through the school system. Many of his colleagues describe him as a fantastic leader, great mentor and all-round good guy. Read on to find out what makes Bob such a successful leader. 

What do you think it takes to become a successful leader?

You have to really have a passion for what leadership is. Leadership and management are two very different things. Leadership comes with the responsibility of making tough decisions, giving tough feedback, but also being humble and giving other people credit for their work and bringing them on the company journey. It’s all those things. One of the questions you often hear about leadership is ‘are you born with it, or can you learn it?’ I think it’s a little of both. My job is 50% leadership, 50% whatever I’m doing at the time. I’ve got to be able to impute leadership across 1000s of people, and you can’t do that in one conversation. I’ve spent a lot of time on not only having one on one conversations and group conversations, but putting tools in place. 

We have five values in our company. They’re all focused on what good leadership looks like. Every one of our employees knows what those values are, they get trained on it from the day they walk in the company. We hire against them, we promote against them, we constructively give feedback against them. They’re the values that essentially are not just creating value for the company, but they’re also creating an ecosystem that we all want to be a part of, because we’re a leadership oriented culture.

How do you motivate people to go the extra mile?

The right people generally motivate themselves when they feel excited, encouraged and good. I try to motivate people by focusing on building a culture of empowerment, trust, and accountability. We give people the empowerment to go do things, be creative and use their whole brain. One of our values is ownership, so we empower people to make decisions. We trust them to take ownership of their work. With trust comes the belief that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you recognise them, and accountability comes with that. When you build a culture like that, people motivate themselves. It’s little things like your vacation policy. We had all kinds of bureaucratic stuff around it, and I said, ‘if we’re about trust and empowerment, why do we even have it? Why don’t we just tell people, if you need time off, take it off, just use your best judgement?’ If we’re truly about empowerment and trust, let’s do that. We abolished the policy and it was amazing. People love that flexibility. It’s little things like that, and it’s bigger things like letting them make big decisions on investments and so forth as well.

Think of your culture as a centrepiece and four legs of the table. The centrepiece is client obsessed. We wake up every day and ask the question, ‘are we doing the right thing for our clients?’ If you don’t solve for clients, you can’t solve for shareholders, and if you don’t solve for clients and shareholders, you can’t solve for employee value. 

The four legs are our values. The first is about our team. There’s communication, accountability and trust. Everybody has to do their part. We believe in feedback. We believe in collaboration. We believe in trust. That’s how our team functions.

Design thinking is another one. It’s always about stepping back, looking at the context and having some tough conversations about what adjustments and course corrections we need to make. 

Ownership is another really important one. There’s a set of behaviours that come with ownership that go above and beyond. We want to cultivate ownership behaviours to take the company to the next level. 

The last leg is performance. You have to know your numbers, drive the plan and measure your business. We want you to manage the details of plans, dates, names, KPIs and metrics. 

When you tie it all together you’re going to create a great culture where people work together and have that high performing culture. It’s amazing how much value you can create in any environment when you do those four things.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone entering the industry?

Find your own values. Be a constant learner, from people, situations, books, whatever. Be content with what you’ve got, that’s got to be enough. We live in a world where people are always judging, there’s always somebody that’s got a point of view on what you should or shouldn’t do. I think it’s driving some of the anxiety you see in kids today. We’ve got to find a way where people feel content, where they can say ‘I did enough and that’s good enough’. And I think if people can figure out those three things, you know, they’ll do well in life.

To hear more about Bob’s insights into the the Content & Media industry, listen to our fantastic conversation in Episode 5 of The Content & Media Matters Podcast

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Securing the API Industry 

On Episode 6 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we sat down with Chuck Herrin, the CTO of industry leading API security business WiB. Chuck has over 15 years of experience in senior and board level IT security roles, and now sits as an advisory board member for multiple organisations in the cyber security space. He’s acted as an attacker, defender, and most recently a builder. With so much knowledge and expertise in the space, we were fascinated to hear his insights into the API industry.  

What is your take on the state of the API security space at the moment? 

It’d be great if there was some API security. I’m being flippant, but it’s another example of history repeating. The most recent example of this phenomenon is when we knew for 10 to 15 years that adoption of the cloud was inevitable. There are so many benefits and cost savings, we all knew it was going to happen. For some reason, defenders didn’t try to figure out how to do it safely. They resisted the change. We saw all kinds of issues and eventually had to catch up. People are still really worried about cloud issues. I saw an article that said around 94% of companies anticipate having a cloud breach in the next 12 months.  

API’s are experiencing the same phenomenon. The adaptation is inevitable because the benefits are massive. There’s no way that we aren’t going to rapidly continue to adopt API and micro service based architectures. The point of business isn’t security, the point of business is delivering value. If you aren’t adopting APIs and micro services, you’re gonna be out-competed and you won’t survive, and if you adopt it incorrectly or insecurely, you’re exposing your back end systems, data and business logic. Adoption right now is rapidly outpacing security.  

We’ve been doing threat modelling for 20-25 years, and we know that you need to know your assets, actors, interfaces and actions in any environment or ecosystem. Then you see who’s doing what to what, via what, and the AI and API interface. Lots of API’s are completely unmanaged and unmonitored. APIs and their adoption made it around the world before security teams got their boots on. Now we’re frantically trying to help companies catch up and keep up. It’s like a one legged man chasing a rabbit, the longer it goes on, the further apart they’re getting. While we’re working really hard to solve these problems at a macro level, it’s only getting worse. We’re not catching up.  

Where do you see the API security space in 10 years time? 

I really hope that we can close these blind spots and treat API security the way we should.  API’s exist to make developers jobs easier, and they do a great job of that, but if you don’t know what’s exposed to the outside world, you can’t monitor it or manage it. We’ll catch up eventually because we have to.  

What I’m hoping for in the interim period is that we don’t have massive national crises, critical infrastructure implications or life safety issues. There are safety issues at the individual level where people’s data is exposed. Bad actors could figure out how to abuse these API’s and target API abuse at political figures.  We have critical infrastructure issues with with water treatment, or the power grid, or nuclear plants where a lot of companies that have been around a while are going to introduce APIs to their systems and there will be a risk. I worry about those attack surfaces more as a citizen than a software vendor, because if something goes wrong there we’re going to have to figure this out as a species. I hope we can address these security risks before that happens. 

To hear more about the state of the API industry and Chuck Herrin’s work in protecting it, tune into the full episode of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast.  

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Space Tech Expo Europe – Day 3

The third and final day is here and that can only mean one thing – scrambling for swag. Beyond the frantic grabbing of goods, there was a wonderful murmur of meetings, conference talks, and general excitement about the success of Space Tech Expo 2022. 

We were delighted to see the continued levels of attendees right from the start of the day until the very last moments, soaking up every minute of Space Tech Expo possible. Easy to spot were the sore-headed attendees of the Telespazio after-party last night walking the halls with glossy eyes. After all, even though it’s the final day, the show must go on.

And go on it has! It’s been delightful to see the continued enthusiasm and high levels of attendees today. We’ve seen everything from robots roaming to holograms to satellite demos and a vast array of space tech in action. 

Today’s conference talk highlights include a great discussion on the ever-looming issue of space traffic and collision management. It was fantastic to see some of the best minds in the industry coming together to tackle what will prove to be a massive obstacle for the issue in the coming years with the rise of mega-constellations. This was followed by what was a great way to finish an incredible array of talks from the three conferences – the innovation spotlight presentations.

Now, sitting in Bremen airport reminiscing about the great event that Space Tech Expo 2022 truly was, I can’t wait to see what next year has to offer! 

Today, Bremen really feels like the “City of Space”. 

Space Tech Expo Europe – Day 2

While outside the conference centre it might be cold, grey and raining, but you’d never know it from the buzz of excitement inside. 

Day 2 promised another packed day of meetings with existing clients, new companies and a whole host of fascinating talks on a variety of topics. The most important being not 1 but 2 “Women in Space” panels, which, if you’ve ever listened to our podcast “Satellite and NewSpace Matters”, you’ll know is a topic that sits close to our hearts. It’s obvious the industry has made great strides in addressing the imbalance, walking around the convention centre it’s clear there is a lot more work to be done! 

Walking around today it’s so obvious that day 2 is so much busier than day 1, which itself was still busy. Every booth is packed, all the B2B meeting tables are constantly booked up and meetings are spilling out into the foyers and any available floor space people can find. Hopefully, this bodes well for the future of the industry and I am sure we will see a large number of post-show announcements and partnerships in the days to follow. 

If you are here tomorrow, I would suggest heading to hall 6 for the final day of the LeanSpace hackathon. It’s been so great to see the real-time requests coming in for the teams in competition with each other and if you have some time, why not challenge them to find you something obscure. 

Anyway, we’re off to enjoy a drink, or two, at the post-show Telespazio networking event. Let’s see how many sore heads we can spot tomorrow morning. 

Space Tech Expo Europe – Day 1

Day one of Space Tech Expo Europe 2022 delivered on the buzz that was palpable upon first entering Messe Bremen’s Halle 4 on a crisp German morning in the City of Space.

The multitude of masks that dominated the show last year was instead replaced by the smiles of individuals grateful to be back at a show that immediately seemed more familiar to the pre-covid 2019 version than its 2021 counterpart.  

The 3 halls seemed busier, filled with people catching up with, or making introductions to, the many established and lesser-known space companies in attendance. The highly innovative and diverse technologies on display fuelled conversations, solidifying current and inspiring new collaborations. And with 3 Conferences this year, we were spoilt for choice.

The Industry Conference gave us insights into the latest updates and key trends in the space sector. The SmallSats Conference allowed room for discussion relating to ongoing and upcoming developments in the ever-growing Small Satellite market. And the Mobility Connectivity Conference saw panels focused on discussing on-the-move connectivity in maritime, land and aviation markets, and the ecosystem that drives it.

As the day drew to a close, conversations and drinks flowed as music rang out across the halls to cap off what was a great first day and true return to form for Europe’s largest gathering of space companies and enthusiasts. Roll on day 2!

How does working for a business with one vertical strength impact its diversification into other verticals?

On Episode 4 of The Connectivity Matters Podcast we spoke with Erik Carlson, the SVP of sales for Maritime, Energy and Government at Anuvu. With over 20 years of executive leadership experience, growing and driving revenue across the likes of Panasonic Avionics, ConvergeOne and Hitachi, Erik deeply understands the industry and has plenty of enthusiasm for revenue generation. 

We spoke about his experience across a variety of industries and how important it is to focus on the customer at all levels of the business. 

What advantages do you have coming from a different industry into connectivity?

The pace at which I work and we run our teams is much higher than a lot of the people who’ve come out of the satellite community. A lot of them have old government roots, which means they tend to move a little slower. My background is much more Silicon Valley. Think about it in context. How are they operating? How are they thinking? How are they iterating on technology? That’s my world. There’s a professional ruthlessness that needs to be respected, and I try to operate in a very similar fashion. The fact that I came from different industries gives me different perspectives on learning customer markets incredibly quickly. While everything I do is about global connectivity below the clouds, we also have an aviation and aviation entertainment business. Below the clouds, those are all different customers, who have different end user requirements. My advantage is my ability to learn that voice of the customer, and to really care about that customer, that’s allowed for the speed at which these successes have been happening for us.

How have you gone about learning the voice of the customer?

I always work from the customer backwards, I do everything in reverse. Look to identify how something is getting to the customer. It’s not the guy who buys connectivity, it’s who his customers are. We need to map not just where our clients are operating, but also what their itineraries and routes are, and who else is in the area. If you look at oil leases, they are basically divided up plots of land out in the ocean, and you can see other rigs from yours. Similarly, each satellite is able to pump down a certain amount of capacity on Earth in a single place. Starlink is doing some brilliant things to amplify that, but if there’s only one legal provider on the planet, and everyone wants that service, you’re going to have a pinch point there. It’s great for me to talk about my customers, but if I’m not taking care of their entire ecosystem, I’m not a partner. There’s a lot of dynamics there, which are going to come into play. If you start with your customer, you’ll have a guiding light upon which to lead the business.

How do you find working for a business with a track record and visibility in one vertical, and how does that impact the verticals that you’re in charge of?

The biggest thing I look at is the leadership team. It’s all about understanding the leadership team’s exit strategy timeline and their worldview. Anuvu brought me on their mission, and their passion was to commit to this business, and that’s what I was looking for. The other thing happening there is that results drive decisions. What we’ve seen is that the business below the clouds is growing phenomenally, and there is an incredible harmony of above the clouds and below the clouds connectivity. Everyone looks at their customers uniquely, but there’s so much in common there and the leadership team here at Anuvu has been really clear about how we think about ourselves. 

Externally and historically, Anuvu has always been seen as ABA question, but what we are seeing is a lot of those customers who tried greener pastures elsewhere are realising that it wasn’t actually greener and they’re coming back to us. Another advantage in my role is that we are seeing customers that have explored other venues and had 2, 3 or 4 years and aren’t seeing the results, customer service or the care that they wanted. The Anuvu rebranding has been really important to help continue and maintain that below the cloud business. 

To hear more about the work that Erik and Anuvu are doing in the Connectivity industry, listen to the whole episode of The Connectivity Matters Podcast

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Getting into the Content & Media Industry

We love hearing from people within our industry. Recently on Episode 4 of The Content & Media Matters Podcast we spoke to Rowan de Pomerai, who is CTO of the DPP and has an impressive 15+ years of experience in the industry. We talked to him about what got him into the industry and asked his advice for people who want to do the same.

How did you first get into the content and media industry?

It’s something I wanted to do for a long time. As a kid at school, I didn’t have a fixed idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I had a sense from pretty early on that TV and theatre and those sorts of disciplines were interesting to me. When I went to university, I ended up doing a degree in electronics and media engineering, but I got really into student TV, that’s what got me really enthused. When I left uni a possibility came up to join the graduate trainee scheme at BBC Research & Development that was right up my street, and I went for it. 

Is there a particular area of technology that you are interested in at the moment?

Cloud has been huge for the last few years. It became very tangible over the last three or four years, and is very much in the mainstream. At the DPP We’ve done a lot of thinking about integration and how different tools and technologies work together. I think data driven decision making and machine-learning AI are exciting too. Our members seem interested in it and tell us that they want to know about it, and I’m personally very interested in that space.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone entering the industry?

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. A number of times in my career, I’ve had conversations with the company or manager I’m working for about what I would like to achieve, work on and deliver, and the types of roles I’d like to work towards. 

I’d like to be very clear that a number of times the answer is no, but a remarkably frequent answer has been yes. I’ve literally sat in an organisation that’s going through a reorganisation, looked at the new structure, phoned up the manager of the team that I think looks most interesting and said, ‘I’d really be interested in coming and working in your team’. Following a coffee and a bit of chat, I was able to go and work in that team on things that I was really passionate about, just because I’d asked. 

You’ve got to have realistic expectations and a bit of humility, but also be thoughtful and be open and honest about what you want to achieve. It’s amazing how often you can take steps towards what you want when you ask. People won’t come and hand things to you on a plate if you don’t ask for it, so just see what happens.

To hear more about Rowan’s insights into the the Content & Media industry, listen to our fantastic conversation in Episode 4 of The Content & Media Matters Podcast

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

How Data Will Change Video Entertainment

On Episode 3 of The Content & Media Matters Podcast, we were delighted to be joined by Jerónimo Macanás Candilejo, the CEO, CTO and co-founder of JUMP Data-Driven Video. He has had more than 20 years of impressive experience in the industry, having worked all the way all the way up from product engineer to CEO, Jerónimo is a hands-on startup leader, who is helping businesses in the media and entertainment space utilise Big Data and artificial intelligence technologies. 

We asked him about how data will affect the future of video in the content and media industry. Read on for the highlights of that conversation!

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening at the moment within the broadcast media industry?

I would say that the most exciting thing is that the disruptors are being disrupted. Netflix, Amazon and all these people that pushed hard to change things for the better in terms of initial experience and how people want to be entertained are making things very competitive. The disruptors now need to defend against that. I think that’s the most interesting thing that is happening now. 

There is a second factor that everybody’s talking about, which is that the world is slowing down. There is some fear about the new model. Both the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine have created these new trends that we are living in with the socio political and geopolitical space, which have been accelerating a lot of consumption and waste of entertainment at a level that was probably something that we weren’t expecting until five years from now.  I’m a believer that the industry is very healthy. What is probably not healthy is the expectations companies had when they saw a pandemic and thought ‘We are gonna get a lot of revenues, money, growth, everything, very fast’. Changing people takes time, they need time to really assimilate new habits and all of that. The market is trying to balance again after all of those changes. Seeing how the industry handles those two factors is what I’m really excited about. 

What is it that makes data a differentiating factor for successful players in the industry? 

Data has been there for decades, so it’s nothing new for companies. What is new is that now they need to use it as a competitive advantage. In this increasingly competitive environment, you need to differentiate yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s because of content or experience or verticals or whatever, you need to fully understand your audience. You can only do that if you use data. You need to make things very personal to your audience, otherwise they feel that they are another one in the basket, and people tend to go away and find another place where they can be treated more personally. We’re all different and we need to be treated differently, not just in consumption, but also in messaging and in channels. In many different aspects, that’s something you can only do with data. Data is going to become more of a key element in the centre of the strategy for media and entertainment. We’re seeing that customers and companies are thinking that data-driven strategies are optional or later stage activity, but they’re becoming more and more central in their strategies from day zero.

What do you think of players like Netflix going full circle in terms of subscriptions?

I think it’s a good movement, despite what everybody’s saying. There are target audiences for all these different tiers. We work in especially good freemium models as a starting point for this land-and-expand strategy. Once people are engaged and they really see the value of your service, they’ll move to a subscription model. You can monetise this content in your service for these people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to subscribe through ads. There will always be a percentage of people that are paying subscriptions now who will move to the freemium one, so you could lose certain people. At the same time, as you are acquiring a lot of other customers that you cannot sell to otherwise. There are not enough people in the world that can pay for six subscriptions, so giving people a taste of why yours is better is a good strategy. I think it’s a natural movement after all these different years, and people will move along tiers and services towards your premium ones. 

Do you think that the focus has shifted from trying to attract people to the platforms to trying to retain the people they’ve already got, and does that change what people want out of data analytics services like yours?

There are two angles on that. First of all, that decision needs to be linked with retention. If you attract the right audience to your service, the people that have the highest customer lifetime value, you’ll churn lower percentages. Retention starts with acquisition. Everybody has a limited budget for acquisition, so you need to use it in the right way. There are data-driven ways to really focus your budget in the right acquisition channels with the right segmentation and the right audience. Apart from really optimising the acquisition cost of your decision strategies, do make sure that you’re moving forward in the funnel, so you’ll have people less likely to churn and more likely to have a higher customer lifetime value. These two concepts need to be linked. 

Now more and more it’s not just about the first churn, because the consumption habits are going to be more about churning re-subscriptions. You need to manage that process as well. You need to really focus on reacquisition because more than ever there is an opportunity for these people to come back to your service. In the middle is the more traditional retention strategy; put people in front of the content they want to watch. That’s the bliss-maker, right? If you have the content they want to watch, and it’s enough content for you to sustain and maintain their entertainment expectations, people will keep it for the right price. Otherwise, you don’t need any strategy or retention study, you need to fix that price point. If you have all these checks, everything is about content and how you present it. The trick is in how you make people feel that there is always something for them to watch. 

To hear the rest of Jerónimo Macanás Candilejo’s opinions on the future of the industry, tune into the full episode of The Content & Media Matters Podcast here. 

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The Indian Cyber Start-Up Scene 

On our first episode of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast, we were delighted to be joined by Girish Redekar, Co-Founder of Sprinto.  

His trajectory is incredible – from starting, scaling, and exiting RecruiterBox through to now growing Sprinto, all in less than a decade. 

We hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we did recording it.  

Why is India such a major innovation hub for the startup/cybersecurity space? 

“Great question. So, I’m definitely not an expert in the area. But basically, whatever I know, is just viscerally connecting with other Founders that I see in the ecosystem.  

And one of the things that’s really happening in India, is that there is a sudden exponential increase in just the sheer number of startups that you see in the space. They’ve entered mainstream, so to speak. So, you take a national daily and there’s basically a page which is dedicated to startups and the funding rounds that have happened and what’s going on over there.  

So, I remember the time when we started our previous company, which was back in 2008. And I didn’t know that what I was doing was a startup, we thought we were just doing a business and the word startup hadn’t entered our vocabulary yet.  

Fast-forward to about 14 years later, it’s really definitely entered the mainstream. You know, mindspace people talk about it, it’s very common – my neighbour next door in my apartment is another startup founder.  

Especially in some places like Bangalore and Pune and Gurgaon and some places, there are startup hubs, and it’s very common for you to find startups over there. And that sort of brushes over any aspect of startups. So, you have a very thriving consumer startup business. But we have a lot of b2b startups as well.  

And that touches on cybersecurity as well. So, I’m seeing a lot of interesting Cybersecurity startups coming from in the country, including those who are working in spaces like privacy. Some of them were working in spaces related to password protection, and so on, so forth. Therefore, that sort of grabs on to pretty much all the spaces that you can think of that makes sense in a b2b software scenario!” 

To listen to the full episode of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast click here.  

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The State of Space Sector – Satellite production may not be up to speed with industry growth & launch predictions

On Episode 4 of The Satellite & NewSpace Matters Podcast we spoke to István Lőrincz, the president and co-founder of Morpheus Space. Morpheus Space are innovators of the world’s most efficient and scalable satellite propulsion systems and a key driving force of next generation space tech across several areas within the industry. We spoke to István about his experiences in the industry, from how he got into it to what he thinks its future will look like.

What is your take on the current state of the space sector?

I represent a controversial perspective on the industry, because I think that the industry is definitely on the right track. Certain aspects of the growth of the industry haven’t been great, and that will cause inevitable delays for the entire industry when it comes to reaching our projection. Right now, that projection is solely based on the capacity of the launchers, and nobody actually took a detailed look at what the capacity of the industry is to build satellites. If you look critically into it, the industry isn’t able to build as many satellites as we’ve projected. It’s just because of the nature of the industry. It’s emerging, which means that it’s highly segmented and there are a lot of small companies just like us, however, what’s missing in all of those other companies is the buy-in to the growth of the industry. You have to lean into it, you cannot be reactive in this environment, you have to take the responsibility and be proactive and lean into those projections. If you see that, in three years, there’s gonna be 10 times as many satellite launches, you have to work with those numbers for whatever you produce. You need to make sure that your trajectory brings you to the place where you can make 10 times more components, for whatever you’re building. That’s what’s lacking; everybody’s too cautious. We need to talk about this, someone needs to do analysis and uncover hidden capacities, primarily in the western world, because that’s represented in a consolidated market.

What are your expectations for the next five to ten years in the industry? 

We have an internal project where we are conducting market analysis to assess what the capability of producing satellite components of the industry is, and what it will be in the next two to three years. If we see a discrepancy there, we will look at solutions of how, for example, the government could incentivize companies to focus more on adapting mass production capabilities and scalable ways to conduct their business. In most small companies there are no processes or tools in place that would allow the handling of 100 clients or 1000 clients, that’s such an enormous number that most small companies would not be able to handle.

I have a feeling that that is being revived. There’s excitement around space exploration that was at its peak during the Apollo programme, and since then it’s slowly diminished. Now we are seeing this new wave of interest, this new wave of random, unconnected industries utilising this excitement and trying to attach their brands to something that’s spacey or something like that. Young people are excited about space again, even if they don’t understand the technical intricacies. It has become something to look forward to, it has become a beacon of hope. That’s growing, and it’s giving me goosebumps. That is something that I strongly believe we need to push in order to inspire the next generation, because that’s where the majority of the revolutionary changes will come from. Young people are the future of the industry. 

What gave us the success that we are seeing today?

It’s the unique technology. At the end of the day, we want to steer the customers away from that question, because the satellite operator does not care what technology is in the satellite, but rather what that technology enables the operator to do. Through our new hardware as a service model, the question has changed. The question that should be asked is ‘What is the price that you can provide to your customers for a unit of change in orbit for their momentum or velocity?’ That’s the question that we are trying to lead the industry towards. 

What distinguishes us from the bulk of the propulsion systems is our use of metal as propellant. That metal is stored in a solid state in the heart of the thruster, so it’s already integrated. Everything is tightly integrated and compact. With traditional propulsion systems, you had to procure the thruster, the propellant tank, all the piping and all the valves and sensors and flow sensors, and so on and so forth. Usually that ordeal was so complex that you had to design the satellite around the propulsion system. Our system is not like that.  You basically purchase it from us and you get a neatly packaged array that you just screw into your satellite, plug in one connector and you’re done! That’s the biggest upside of having a plug and play and complex system. Integration of components into a satellite is an ordeal and you want to make that as easy as possible there. There are companies out there where the core of their business is making integration. Let’s look at Antares; one of their primary objectives is to have a number of components in their offerings that are already optimised for integration, like easily integrating double components. 

Furthermore, the underlying physics that enables us to generate thrust is a new process. That process is highly efficient. The ionisation efficiency is a big component in every electric propulsion system. To date, this approach has the highest ionisation efficiency. If you have low efficiency, you lose a lot of energy just to create a fluid medium that you can use to generate thrust, so you want to have that as much efficiency as possible. 

There are other secondary technological innovations like our neutralizer. The propulsion system itself emits positive ions, and in order to maintain the charge balance of the spacecraft, you also have to emit the same amount of negative charges or electrons, which happens through a neutralizer. In most cases, you either have to use propellant to do that, or you have to heat up things at high temperatures, which leads to inefficiencies because it does not generate thrust. When you emit electrons or negative charges, usually those are not used to generate thrust, so they are lost. What we do is eliminate the propellant, we just use electrostatics and things called carbon nanotubes to extract and emit electrons, which improves our efficiency further. All those technologies together have put us in the position we’re in now to be making further advancements in our field. 

If you’d like to know more about the future of the satellite industry, tune into The Satellite & NewSpace Podcast from neuco, with new episodes monthly. 

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Why will Electronically Steered Antennas Unlock a Huge Amount of Potential?

On Episode 3 of The Satellite & NewSpace Matters Podcast we were delighted to be joined by Andy Lucas, the CEO of LEUK Teleport & Data Centre, previously known as Signalhorn. He’s an avid cyclist who hopes to discover the next big use case for satellite communications and apparently get himself a robot lawnmower as well. Andy has had an impressive career in the satellite and space industry, which has led him to some really exciting things at LEUK Teleport & Data Centre. They currently provide services to GEO platforms with LEO and MEO solutions about to be launched very soon. 

We talked about the new tech in the Satellite and NewSpace industry, touching on everything from lawnmowers to the cloud. Below are some of Andrew’s most interesting insights on electronically steered antennas and their wider applications. 

What opportunities do you think exist for a business like yours within the NewSpace market, and how do you think the solutions and offerings that you’re able to provide will be influenced by NewSpace rather than traditional communications?

The pace of change in technology is remarkable, right? It’s game changing for the satellite communications industry in particular. One thing I would stress is that I firmly believe the future is a hybrid model. It won’t be Leo or Meo or Geo, or 5g or fibre, the solutions will be an aggregation of all these different technical solutions, such that customers are delivered solutions that genuinely offer the best of everything, and as a result are very biassed towards QE but don’t forget about reliability. There are issues of reliability, particularly as locations move around the world, so there’s a mix of options that change depending on area. 

Hybrid models are definitely the way forward. Now, we mustn’t forget that Leo has been around for quite a few years in the satellite industry, as has Meo, and Leo has been very successful with Iridium, for example. The difference now is actually just the capability that’s available from Leo constellations, and Meo constellations – it’s just unrecognisable from 5 or 10 years ago. Customers are much more cloud oriented. They have got a completely different mindset in terms of quality experience and how applications behave in all settings. This recent push behind homeworking, for example, has really driven home the fact that we are basically all working from a little bubbles, relying on a conductivity to actually make something like this possible. Behind that is obviously lots of fibre and variables, with a very high speed and low latency. Classic Geo really just wouldn’t have been successful, we would have all been desperately trying to find a coffee shop to huddle up in. Leo and Meo brings that low latency, high output experience to anybody everywhere around the whole planet, which is a revolution really in terms of opportunity and capability to individuals and businesses alike. 

So how do I see this being something that LEUK TDC can capitalise on? Number one, our customers are demanding it. We have numerous critical use cases that we provide for our customers. Low latency would definitely enhance our customers ability to leverage the solution that we provide, but as I say, the hybrid model is going to be the thing that blends that enhanced user experience with the reliability and simplicity of the solutions we provide today going forward. We don’t want to provide solutions to customers that give them latency at the expense of the quality of service and convenience that they enjoy today. So what does it bring to our customers? I think it brings greater reach, higher performance, far superior QE and application behaviour and it unlocks solutions such as the technology we’re using at the moment for this podcast. That’s a big improvement, particularly in locations that are classic telco coverage areas.

What developments in the industry are you most looking forward to seeing in the future?

It’s actually the whole electronic sustainable internal world. I think it has unlocked so much potential because it fixes the ease of use problem. As an industry, we need skilled engineers with a lot of experience to actually successfully deploy solutions, especially in cyber mobility contexts, where the technical solution is a bit more sophisticated. Even a simple cell tower in Africa requires an engineer to install the hardware and commission it successfully in a way that remains reliable though. Even though it’s a simple fixed antenna screwed to a tower, it still needs a bit of work to make that work correctly. 

What the ESA world brings is the potential for plug and play. It requires reduced skill sets to install equipment. As a result it greatly reduces the barrier to entry for satellite communications products, because then it’s not really a satellite communications terminal with all the complex connotations that that implies – it’s just an appliance that happens to connect wirelessly to something and then magically presents a high performance connection that has all these low latency, high throughput or high reliability solutions to the end users on the site. To me, that’s the key thing that the industry requires to unlock the potential of the existing Geo or high-performance solutions. There isn’t the number of engineers in the world to allow us to keep on doing it the old way.

I think the potential applications of steerable antenna systems are huge. How far in your future do you see them being found in everyday life?

They’re already available! One application is lawn mowers. You can spend an hour a week cutting the grass, give or take, maybe more depending on how fussy you’re being. You’ve got to get the lawn mower out of the garage, you’ve got to clean the blades, check if it’s got petrol, if it’s charged… You go around the garden, you sweep up the clippings… I enjoy it, but it’s work, whereas a Rover lawn mower just whizzes around your garden cutting the grass for you. It finds its docking station and it just deals with things by itself. There are some challenges with them though. Bizarrely they’re not necessarily easy to use. In theory, you can just draw up your grass and off they go, but actually, what you’re supposed to do is pick a wire around the perimeter of your lawn and around plants you don’t want destroyed which takes time and effort. You need an external mains socket. You know, they’re waterproof but you don’t want them being rained on. They’re gonna get stolen because they’re quite high value items. So they’re not necessarily the kind of purchase you would just make randomly, but the opportunity for me is I can get two three hours a week back, and I don’t have to buy petrol for my lawnmower anymore. That’s the kind of application that I want to start seeing more of. 

To hear more about Andy Lucas’s work at LEUK Teleport and Data Centre and the advancements in the Satellite and NewSpace industry, tune into the full episode of The Satellite & NewSpace Matters Podcast from neuco. 

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The Consolidation of the Satellite & NewSpace Industry

On The Satellite & NewSpace Matters Podcast we were delighted to be joined by Stuart Gill, a product manager for Leanspace; a service provider that allows space organisations to develop bespoke software systems that are fully integrated, ready to scale and fast. Leanspace’s solution is a first of its kind, enabling space organisations to be more competitive by increasing their agility and lowering their costs. Stewart is one of the new wave of space professionals who are helping to deliver fantastic innovations in the NewSpace industry. Having started his career as a research and development engineer, he very soon became a satellite platform specialist with Thales before moving to Leanspace, where he leads the creation and delivery of new and innovative products. 

We’re talking about NewSpace, and the clue is in the name – it is relatively new – but it’s been massively growing over the last couple of years. A lot of people seem to think that we’re perhaps due some consolidation, or merging of the NewSpace industry with incumbent space and other industries. What do you think the state of the market is looking like right now? 

That’s a good question. I think everyone out there would pay to have a crystal ball which could predict that. I would agree that there’s probably going to be some mergers and some consolidation. There are a lot of actors who have arrived on the market in recent years so it will be interesting to see if there’s space for everyone. Smallsat was a very interesting example. I’ve read already about a lot of mature micro launcher companies who are turning to a verticalized business model and supplying not just the launcher but also the satellite. It will be very interesting to see where the market goes, I think there’s still going to be tremendous growth. I think everyone agrees with the projection that it’s going to be a growing industry for some years to come, but I think in the next couple of years in particular it will be interesting to see how specifically traditional space companies pivot and adapt. I think that they’re already starting to feel some pressure. And I think the NewSpace companies will start to see, especially with the economic conditions we have today, maybe a bit more trouble raising funds. It’s always dynamic in space.

When we look at consolidation in the industry, is there one particular area of the market that you think is potentially oversubscribed, that we’ll see consolidation happening in soon?

I would say the launcher market, if I was being entirely honest. I think that there’s been a lot of investment in the launcher market, but I would like to see more projects which the launch market can depend on coming through the pipeline. Even if all these launcher companies make it, they still need companies to invest in creating constellations, or any kind of satellite project. There seems to be an unequal investment in launchers versus the projects which are coming through in which those companies will rely on as well. For those companies to be commercial, they can’t rely on one or two projects per year, they have to have a sustainable, vibrant ecosystem. I think that they need to have more investment in satellite projects, or any other kind of space project. 

Are there any technologies or innovations currently in development that you think are going to have the most impact on expanding the industry in the near future?

I think the infrastructure and the digitalization space is going to have a huge impact, because it basically drives growth. All the other systems, which we have in the space industry are always siloed, they’re very slow to adapt. The changing ecosystem will be a big driver for growth, whether it’s digital factories, smarter software for operating your missions, cloud technologies… All this will have a big impact on how the industry grows. 

To hear the rest of Stuart Gill’s insights and experience in the NewSpace industry, listen to the full episode of The Satelite and NewSpace Matters Podcast here. 

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The Future of the Cyber Security Industry

On The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we were joined today by Isabel Bardley-Garcia. She is the Director of Information Security at Helion Energy, driving company wide security strategies, programmes and initiatives. They are currently building the world’s first fusion generators and enabling a future with unlimited clean electricity. Isabel has over 18 years of experience in the cybersecurity sector, including leading and driving the transformation and automation of National Cybersecurity consulting services. With all of that experience, Isabel has some fascinating views on the evolution of the cybersecurity industry, the highlights of which are below. 

How have you seen the role of security and risk management within cyber security mature and evolve during your career?

The role of security and risk management has gone from being just a compliance issue, either to a regulation like Sox or GLBA, or standard like PCI DSS due to more companies, and especially the government, taking it seriously. It’s more about protecting the organisation from major losses, crippling interruptions, or even failures of the organisation, and also about helping organisations to grow and to succeed. We’ve gone from doing things because we’re told to do it to doing something because it makes sense to actually do it.

Do you think that cybersecurity is taken more seriously in 2022, rather than the early 2000s of them when you were first starting out?

Back in the early 2000s it was very frustrating to be an information security consultant, or just a cybersecurity professional. Like I said, companies didn’t really take it that seriously if they didn’t have a regulation or standard. As professionals, we saw the attacks and we had to protect our companies against them. When we saw that the attackers or the threat actors were getting bolder and more sophisticated, our companies and even the government at that time felt further and further and further behind in this cyber warfare, to the point that many of them denied it was even happening. They were like an ostrich with their head in the sand. They just didn’t believe that they would be targets, because they sold blouses instead of missiles. They didn’t think they had anything that the threat actors wanted, and even the government thought of warfare as a physical thing and not a cyber thing. We were watching it all happen, and it was very frustrating. 

20 years later, after so many breaches and after learning about all the foreign actors from different countries who are trying to cripple other nations, down to their infrastructure, to steal intellectual property. The regular threat actors who are trying to steal intellectual property to sell credit cards, social security numbers, personal identifiable information for identity theft… they’re still there, but having breaches is being taken more seriously. It’s reactive more than proactive, and now more and more companies, as well as the government, have really gotten into beefing up their security. They’re seeing it more as a risk management issue instead of a compliance issue. 

We still have a way to go, because there’s still a lot of companies that have that old mentality that is still very pervasive. Some companies still think that they can just offshore or push off securities, saying ‘we have service providers taking care of that, we have third parties taking care of that, we don’t have to worry about it’. Now we’re getting more and more breaches, where the third parties are being breached in order to be able to get to their whole client base. That’s starting to be taken more seriously, and companies are being more proactive, which is a great direction to go to. We’re still a couple of decades behind, so we need to hurry this up.

How do you see the industry developing in 10 years time?

I think that with all the different frameworks that we have now, companies don’t really have much of an excuse to not know what they’re supposed to be doing. And a lot more of them are taking those frameworks and implementing them into their own organisations, and they’re using the risk assessment management approach a lot more than just checking the box for whatever compliance, so it’s become more holistic. Companies are becoming more educated as to what cybersecurity is and how it pertains to their company, the C level are educating themselves about it, and realising that it’s not an IT problem, that it really is a risk management problem. Even boards of directors are bringing on people with security experience to advise them. It’s becoming more mature and more known in companies. 

The way that I see this going for the cybersecurity profession is that cybersecurity roles are going to become more focused and better defined. I think that the workforce framework is going to really help with that. We won’t have cybersecurity professionals being asked to perform three or more roles, so the firewall administrator isn’t also expected to be the database administrator, they’re just strictly the firewall administrator. A lot of the burnout we’re having in the profession is that we were expecting our professionals to wear many different hats that are very different from each other. From an education perspective, we’re going to start having more places of education with a wider variety of more mature cybersecurity degrees and training programmes to choose from. I’m hoping that by that time, cybersecurity will be its own separate department with its own head that then reports to like the CEO, or legal or something that makes a bit more sense than like the CIO. 

From a vendor perspective, it’s going to keep growing, we’re going to get more tools and platforms. Because the buyers are going to be a lot more sophisticated in their knowledge of threats, vulnerabilities, control frameworks and how it pertains to their domain’s responsibility, they’re going to be a lot more discerning and selective in their purchasing decisions. They’re going to be looking for products that fix a specific problem, which then will force the vendors to start focusing on the core functions of their products instead of trying to build them all-in-ones. Vendors are going to have a harder time getting people to buy the shiny new thing, because the sophistication of the buyers will be much greater by that time. 

To hear more about the future of the cybersecurity industry and Isabel’s unique perspectives, listen to the full episode of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here.

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The Importance of a Capability Model

On Episode 3 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we were delighted to be joined by Caleb Barlow. He’s an entrepreneur with a technical background and he’s equally comfortable presenting at TED talks or primetime news as he is consulting the board of a major health care provider. As VP of threat intelligence at IBM, he built one of the largest incident response platforms, including the world’s first immersive cyber range. He went on to be President and CEO of supply chain security business Redspin, helping them become the DoD’s first approved third party assessor, at the same time as taking the helm at parent company Synergist Tech, a cyber services firm with an emphasis on health care. He’s currently heading up his own business, Cylete, where he advises private equity firms on the right cyber businesses to target. It’s an impressive professional history! 

We covered topics from diversity in the industry to the ways that Covid has impacted the landscape of cybersecurity. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation. 

What one piece of advice would you give someone entering the industry?

This is an industry that has a language to it, and you really need to understand that language to be credible. This is an industry where information has a shelf life, because attacks and defences are constantly changing. I mean, this is not an industry that you could easily pack up and leave for a year or two and come back, because everything’s going to have changed. What I tell people is they have to stay informed of the news of the industry every single day. I think of it like Game of Thrones, right? If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, the first few episodes, you have no idea what’s going on. It takes a season or two before you start to get that all these things are connected. I think the cybersecurity industry is the same way. Whether it’s through the cyber wire or your podcast or a threat feed, you have to stay informed about this stuff, and you have to do it every day. What I’ve always said to my teams is that if you haven’t read the news, don’t come into work today. I test because if you don’t know what the latest attack was and what it means, and you get asked by a customer, you’re totally not credible.

How has the term critical infrastructure broadened in recent years?

I think we need to redefine it. When most people talk about critical infrastructure, they refer to health care, energy, finance… It’s a very World War Two mentality in terms of ‘what is critical infrastructure’. Let me ask you this, at the start of the pandemic, what did you really need? I don’t know about your household, but the critical infrastructure in my household was getting access to goods and materials during a supply chain crisis and being able to communicate with friends and colleagues and being able to send my kids to school. One of the things we have to do is realise that the pandemic brought us a whole new way to work and a whole new way to educate, so our critical infrastructure has to change. We’ve got to look at cloud providers like Microsoft, Amazon and Google; that’s critical infrastructure. Now, we’ve got to look at things like zoom, which is how my kids went to school and how I went to work. It’s an absolutely critical infrastructure. I couldn’t care less about my phone system, I need my Zoom. Suppliers that deliver things like Amazon and Instacart and large retailers that were able to keep supply chains moving like Walmart – they were critical. A lot of what we have to do is really rethink how we think about critical infrastructure and what critical infrastructure is. 

You’ve made high profile media appearances over the years and also specialised in consulting the C suite on information security, is there a major or unifying message that you strive to get across?

It’s really all about having a capability model versus just having procedures and documentation. You need to build capability in four key areas. The first is obviously cybersecurity skills and incident response. Number two – and this is surprising to most people – is communication skills. If you don’t know how to communicate internally, externally, with your partners and with your customers, things aren’t going to end well. If, during a crisis, you can’t communicate what to do, people are going to fill that void with their own speculation. I would argue that the vast majority of high profile breaches we’ve seen over the last 10 years are down to poor communication. Lacklustre communications in decision making causes more damage than the threat actor in most companies, because people either don’t communicate, which is a decision in and of itself, or they communicate bad data, not knowing what to say and how to say it, or they go sideways with regulators. The third area you need is legal, and the fourth capability you need (and this is the tough one), is business resiliency skills. On any cybersecurity response team, it is critical to have business skills that can understand what can the business handle, what alternatives might we have and how could we stand up the business in another way. Our threats aren’t any different than a fire or a flood or a natural disaster. You have to think about resiliency if you can’t get access to your IT systems.

What do you see as the prospects for cyber during the next decade? 

The simple fact of the matter is that we are still in an industry where we do not have enough people to fill the open jobs. The need for those skills only continues to grow. We are starting to solve some of the problems though, we’re starting to become a more diverse industry, which is great. Some of the pipeline of getting skills is starting to get solved, but like any industry, the next round of innovations may, in some cases, be repeats of things we’ve seen before. Ultimately what I do think we’re likely to see now is kind of the second generation of companies starting to step in. A great example of this would be as the EDR market moves to XDR, we’re starting to see the next generation companies coming in and solving the same problem but with a very different business model. Like any industry, those optimization companies will probably be the ones that win in the long term as the industry turns over.

To hear more about the future of the cyber security industry, tune into the full episode of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here.

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

What Advice Would You Give Somebody Who Wanted to Enter the Industry but Who Felt They Didn’t Fit In?

On  Episode 2 of The Content & Media Matters Podcast we sat down with Jill Porubovic, the Global Operations Leader for Take-Two Interactive Software. While some of her peers are winding down, Jill is still ramping up. Alongside her current role at Take-Two, Jill is also a board member for Tential Solutions and Rise, a group promoting gender diversity in media technology. Plus she has her own consulting business which enables people to work through times of change. 

With such an impressive professional history we were keen to hear her insights on how to enter the industry and thrive within it. Read on for the highlights of our conversation with her!

How have you seen attitudes towards diversity and inclusion change throughout your career?

I mean, I’m old! I’ve had 30 years in the industry, and I’ve seen some things. I would say I’m grateful for how things were in the past, because it taught me a lot about the need to be very loud and outspoken. I’m really more of an introvert than an extrovert. But you can’t be quiet, especially as a leader, so I’ve learned a lot about my own ability to be loud. From the companies’ side though, being more engaged and thinking about how to expand their workforce has changed. At Discovery we have a couple of programmes that really helped us leverage that. We partner with two-year schools locally to get students in who weren’t going to a four-year university, which allows us to get a more diverse workforce. We also partnered with a company called Broad Futures who support the neurodiverse workforce, and together we build internship programmes specifically for them. What was so amazing about that experience was my team’s desire to really dig in and understand where they were coming from and build a programme that was supportive of them. I sort of just handed it to them and said, ‘If you need me, I’m here, but I need you to build this programme so that they could learn’. It’s wonderful. Helping people access our industry is so important.

Why do you think mentorship is so important when it comes to encouraging a diverse workforce?

Because I didn’t have that growing up, at home as a young person or through my career. I always say you have the chalkboard of life, so as you’re going through your career and you’re learning, I really think it’s up to you to figure out what those key lessons are. The US has a lot of rules and regulations about compliance from a physical disability standpoint, but I always feel that we need to go above and beyond those things to really support people with diverse needs. 

We had an internet discovery person who was wheelchair bound and she was amazing. She actually graduated college and is a lawyer now, but when she started with us she was fully dependent on everybody else for support and assistance. We met with her and went through the entire building to talk about the things that weren’t easy for her, which was eye opening. Talking to those individuals who fall into those categories of need is so important. Getting our employee’s perspectives is amazing, because we were able to make some changes from that, and enable incredible people to perform to their full potential. 

What areas do you think we still need to change and improve when it comes to diversity and inclusion?

I think we just can’t stop. It’s always changing. It’s like an onion, right, you keep peeling back the layers, so you find more and more and more and more of the people that need to be supported. I supported the disabilities employee resource group, which I think are super smart. I also feel like they need to be supported by external resources that really know that area, so that you’re not limited by your internal knowledge base, you’re also getting that rich external knowledge that helps you grow.

How does impostor syndrome affect people today, and what can we do about it?

I don’t know many people that don’t have that. For the bulk of my career, probably until I was in my mid 40s, I had that. There’s a lot of personal things that you have to go through and do. If people externally are saying or doing things and you aren’t, it’s easy to be beaten down and put up that barrier and not allow all that external pressure to get to you. A lot of impostor syndrome is what you allow to get in your head. It really is ‘fake it till you make it’. Especially as a woman, a lot of it is your tone and your like your prep work – don’t go into any meeting without that prep and understanding. Act like you own the place. This is your money. This is your reputation. You have a seat at the table, you have something to say, even if you’re pretending. Eventually you’ll get to the other side and realise ‘Okay, I actually do know some things. I have a point of view that’s worthwhile’. Everybody has to go through their own personal journey.

What would you say to somebody who wanted to enter the industry, but felt that they didn’t fit in?

Fight for it. You really have to be tenacious and ambitious and not give up and not let any rejections stop you. Try to be positive about it. I know it can get really negative and feel like the world is against you, though. Whatever is against you, set that aside for a minute and instead turn it into ‘What do I need to do? What do I want to do in order to get this done?’ Go after it that way. Anything that you can’t change or is already in the past, put it on the shelf. You can’t reread that chapter, so move on to the next thing. Forgive yourself for whatever happened and don’t stop. Don’t let your mind just continue to think about it. You really do have to just keep moving.

To hear more from Jill’s incredible interview, listen to the full episode of The Content & Media Matters Podcast here.

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The Future of the Content & Media Industry

On the first episode of our brand-new Content & Media Matters Podcast, we were joined by Neale Foster, the CEO of 24i. Growing up, Neil always wanted to work in technology. As a child, he loved computers and electricity and found it incredible that something he couldn’t see was so powerful. Neil began his career working for British Aerospace as an engineer and is now the CEO of 24i, a role which he took on in March 2022. We talked about his experience of the industry and his insights into what might be coming next. 

How do you see the current state of the content and media industry?

I think it’s wonderful that Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Hulu, all of those companies have made it so that you can tell people what you do now. Before that, you’d say, ‘I work in the video space’ and they would look blankly at you. You could say ‘Sky stuff, or Virgin stuff’, but that would be the limit of the conversation. But now when you say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m in the world of video streaming where Netflix and Amazon are, they’re all ‘Well, I use Netflix or Amazon!’ We’ve got all these different devices like mobiles, TV, etc, so now it’s relevant. The really fascinating thing for me is that people now talk about operating systems, whether you’ve got Android or Apple iOS, whereas 20 years ago, if you mentioned the word operating system, people would look at you blankly. Yeah, I’m really happy that the general words that we use are actually relevant to people’s lives. 

Do you think that streaming will replace traditional broadcast and cable? And if so, when do you think that might happen?

That’s always an interesting question. There’s always a migration or transition, and people always kind of misunderstand that the Skys and Virgins and Comcasts and all the other cable and satellite and telcos are iterating their models all the time. The good news for the consumer is that there are a lot of different possibilities, and companies are fitting whatever kind of personal circumstances or cost point or niche you might be in. I think the biggest growth is that there are niche and genre specific services. Now you can actually decide how you’re going to get what you want delivered, rather than just saying, I’m going to have the cable operator, and I’ve just got what they offer me. You can now customise effectively. There’s lots of different interesting words for this, but you can choose what you want to watch and pay for what you want to watch, so I quite like that choice factor in the industry now.

What do you think some of the challenges are going to be for the industry over the next 12 months?

There’s quite a few challenges. I mean, obviously, the cost of living crisis is going to be happening with all the energy costs, and there’s clearly going to be some sort of recession. In many ways, the irony is that people watch more TV when they don’t go out. But this is still gonna show the value; it’s all about the value base. There’s a graph chart that came out – many people are saying there’s an enormous number of services that people were paying for, and how mind blowing it is. It’s a classic, you’ve got to show value for your service. In fact, one of the reasons we’ve done 24iQ is that data analytics works to give people recommendations and make sure people can find content, which is absolutely critical. It’s not just about having a big library. If you walked into a conventional library and just saw all the books there, and didn’t know where to go, you’d be lost. Content discovery is a huge problem.

We’re anticipating the hot topics to be around engagement and analytics and fast networks, and really how to cope with this rise in demand for streaming. What’s your take on some of these topics?

We’re quite unusual at 24i in that we’ve got both the new generation of video director that goes direct to consumer, people like Pure Flix that do a friends-and-family version of Netflix effectively and Sony Entertainment, who have done quite a clever thing with Crunchyroll and and others, creating this niche that’s genre specific to quite large subscriber bases. Alongside that we’ve also got the classic pay TV,  and cable satellite operators. It’s quite fascinating to see the competitive elements that are all going into the ecosystem. 

How do you get video streaming simple and easy for the consumer and for the operator? One of them is discovery. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got rails of content, and as we’ve just discussed, getting content easily discovered is a major problem, in fact there’s too much content usually. It’s either got to be done by discovery, or it’s got to be recommended to you that you should watch that. It reinforces that you’re paying for this service so you want to know that the content that you’re probably going to watch next is on there. Otherwise, you’re going to switch to a different service to give you that content. We’re showing all sorts of really quite clever algorithms that cluster and connect all the different types of consumers to content so that platforms can recommend the right stuff. It’s highly mathematical, which I personally enjoy, but from a consumer point of view you want to be simple. So it’s how you translate what’s actually complicated into a simple, fun and enjoyable user experience. It’s very visual. 

Who do you think is doing some exciting things in the industry at the moment?

I think Amagi are really quite fascinating. They’ve been identified as a unicorn. It’s not surprising that they have a true cloud. So much of it is about the cloud. Whoever’s got stuff going on at the cloud, clearly, if they’ve written code properly for the cloud, not just put their code on the servers, will be one to watch. I think it’s fascinating. Verimatrix is always fascinating too. Datto and other content protection companies are emerging now. Some of the content protection has a lot of security issues, so I’m interested to see how security develops. Whilst all these apps and devices seem great there’s a lot of data protection that needs to happen, because you’re dealing with consumer data. So I’m particularly interested to see how the security implications and content protection develops, alongside the pure models of how you connect the consumer to that content. 

To hear more of Neale Foster’s insights into the future of the content and media industry, listen to the full episode of The Content and Media Matters Podcast here.

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

How the Edge Air Solution is Affecting the Connectivity Market

Recently on The Connectivity Matters Podcast, we spoke to Raz Kivelevich-Carmi, the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Cellium Technologies. With over 20 years experience from within the chipset ecosystem, Raz has invaluable insights into the tech that’s currently revolutionising the industry. We talked about the innovations happening at Cellium and how they’ll impact consumers. Read on to find out what’s coming next!

Tell us about Cellium’s Edge Air solution and how it differs from small cell solutions?

There are multiple technologies or topologies out there, ranging from full genome to small cell and all the way up to the oran types of solution, which is a very big hype these days. The databases have been around for some time, whereas the psyllium solution is, in essence, a desk-like solution. However, opposed to what standard desk does, we do it much better performance-wise as well as at a much lower cost than those existing solutions. The reason that the technology is based on an analogue-only type of deployment is that we do not do any analogue to digital conversions of any sort. We don’t utilise special cabling, most other deployments are going to be fibre which is an expensive means to transfer data from one end to the other, but we use standard copper cables which you have in your walls. If you don’t have them in your walls, we can put them into the walls at a much lower cost both for the equipment and the deployment cost itself. It’s very easy to put up copper wire, it’s much harder to put up a fibre wire. 

When you take all of this together, you’re getting an active DAS that works over copper wire in an analogue domain, with no need to do those conversions. The cherry on top of the cake is that we do it based on the SOC chipset that we have developed in house. The companies that do active DAS do all of those conversions. They take the RF signal, either they push it over coax cable, which is again very expensive, or they take it and they transfer it from analogue domain into the digital domain. In many cases, they then take the digital signal and then they push it to fibre and then they push it from one point of the building to another point of the building, then they do it again fibre to digital, digital to analogue and then they retransmit. The way that we do it is we take the RF signals and we drop them to a frequency which is referred to as an intermediate frequency, which is usually in the low hundreds of megahertz, and that can be pushed over a copper cable easily. I’m simplifying things that are chipped and are actually doing a lot in order to make it happen, but it’s much easier to keep the single analogue and push it across the wire. I make sure that I push it in such a way that I don’t degrade the performance. I do not add latency which all those digital technologies do. They modify the signal in order to have it passed from one point to the other in a robust way, which is very time consuming and expensive. That’s what we do, but we do it using our own chips. 

Some companies have chosen to take this path of analogue conversion only. However they do it with discrete components which isn’t very cost effective. This is why Cellium took the approach about two and a half or three years ago to, to take a system and to develop a chip that replaces those discrete components into a single chip. When they did it with discrete component, it was very expensive, which is the reason that they went for an SOC. We are the only company in the world today that has an SOC that does this RF live conversion. Again, this further reduces the overall cost of the system. When I compare it to the good performance active DAS, it’s where I have the merits of providing an active DAS at a very low cost. That’s the huge merit against those active DAS types of solutions.

So is the Edge Air solution suitable for all indoor vertical markets?

When we look at the market today, what we see is two segments. There is the private network segment, and then there is the bigger one, which is the eminent or the or the public domain. If you look at analysts, they would probably say that the public sector is going to account for about 70% of the entire 5G market, whereas 30%, will go into private networks. Now, there is a big difference between private networks and public networks from the deployment perspective, so I’ll touch each one of those and explain how the Edge Air solution does it. 

Let’s start with the public, which is the bigger segment, and probably the one that’s going to happen earlier in the game. One of the things that all the all the cell vendors and DAS vendors have seen is the fact that the majority of the MNO market today is what is called NSA or non-stand-alone, which means that legacy 4G is working alongside the 5G. Only about 10 to 20% of the seminars these days are using 5G standalone. That doesn’t mean that companies will immediately migrate from NSA into SA, but they will start to, and for the next three to five years they will continue using their legacy 4G cores and add 5G capabilities on top of it and have the cells work together. Now, this makes it harder for operators who now need to bring a box into the building that does NSA. They can do one of two things: they can rely on the 4G macro to penetrate in and to be synchronised with the 5G devices in the building, or they could bring 4G data into the building. In some countries it’s very common to have 4G data in the building, but in the majority of the countries that we’ve seen, what you see is the need to go into a building and put in a 4G and 5G transmitting and receiving element in. Now, that is a problem for many of the small sales companies because if you look at most of the small cells today, they are built around the Qualcomm chipset, there is a 4G Qualcomm chipset and there is a 5G Qualcomm chipset and you need to put both of them into the box and to have some collaboration between the two of them. In many cases, the 4G is coming from a different vendor altogether like Ericsson and Nokia, who are very common to be used as the macro vendor. But, going back to the box, you need to have 4G and 5G in the box in a single location and to get better coverage for both of them working together. 

Most of our customers would like to have a single box that has the capability to work on both systems. Now, this is where Cellium excels. Why am I saying that? Because the way that our system is built, it has two major components. One is called the CPU, which is the Cellium base unit, and one is called the CRU, which is the same remote unit or the radio unit. Our base unit interacts with third party equipment, we don’t compete with Ericsson, we’re not here to compete with Airspan. As I’ve stated before, we look at them as a signal source. What we do is distribute their signal across the building. We build our boxes in a way that interfaces with more than one vendor, so we can put in an Ericsson 5G and a Nokia or Huawei or a Samsung 4G and both of them will connect to our box. That CPU will then spread it to units across the building, and each one of those units will transmit both the 4G and 5G together from a single location. This is a great value to the customers because they need the 4G and 5G because they’re doing NSA. However, in the future, when they migrate away from NSA and reform their frequencies, they might be able to take out the 4G source signal source and put in another 5G signal source. Now it’s 5G, the cost of replacement or reforming for indoor types of deployment this way will be dramatically lower than replacing multiple small cells around the building. This is a future proof solution that allows the operators to build a system now and then move on to SA at a later stage with a very low cost of replacement. We wouldn’t make any money out of it at that stage, but customers will save a lot of money then. 

Let me just touch on the private network for a while. The private network is a very complex market these days, and there is a huge competition between 5G and WiFi. These two technologies want to play in the game of private networks. In the last two years or so everybody was saying private networks are 5G. This is because the 5G industry has been pushing this. In the recent year or so I’ve started to see more and more of the Wi Fi coming back and saying ‘No guys, we can do private networks’. You’re talking about quality of service, we know how to do quality of service, you’re talking about latency, we know how to do proper latency, you’re talking about security, we know how to do proper security. In my opinion, they will complement each other, in some cases it will be just WiFi, in some cases it’s just going to be 5G. In many cases, it’s going to be a mutual solution that serves the facility that it’s in. 

Now, the solution for private networks is going to look a bit different from the MNO that I’ve just described. Nobody cares about the NSA because these are private networks, so it’s going to be easy. From the 5G perspective, however, we need to facilitate the Wi Fi to go through the same infrastructure because at the end of the day, you don’t want to have one or two boxes that are in a single location and transmit WiFi and 5G over the same corporate wires. This is exactly what we’re doing in the private network. We’re building boxes that are doing 5G only. Our first products are 5G with what we call cascading capabilities. If there is a Cisco, Juniper or HP Aruba that is already in the facility, I don’t want to disturb that unit. The IT manager already bought that unit, he doesn’t want to take it off and replace it with a new one, but he does want to add 5G into the facility. So what we’re bringing in is our CRU remote units that are capable of 5G only. I facilitate the same infrastructure to work for 5G and WiFi. So, instead of having 4G coming in and 5G coming in, as I was explaining before, now only 5G will come in alongside the Wi Fi or Ethernet. I will facilitate both of them to go through the corporate wires into my box, and then I will spread the 5G and let the expert on WiFi spread the WiFi. 

To hear more of Raz’s insights into the industry and find out what advice he’d offer someone joining the sector, tune into the full episode of The Connectivity Matters Podcast

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Virtualisation in the Connectivity Industry

On The Connectivity Matters Podcast we were joined by James Morgan, SVP of sales at DriveNets. James is currently responsible for DriveNets’ growth strategy and leading the company’s European activity. Previously working at Juniper Networks as Head of Global MSP and NAS sales, as well as founding several successful startups, James has over 25 years experience across connectivity. He spoke to us about his perspectives on developments in communication technology.

So what’s your take on the current state of telecommunications?

Well, it’s interesting and dynamic. If you look at telcos and service providers, and where they make their money, there’s a huge ecosystem that’s eating into their profitability. Bandwidth is increasing dramatically, price per bit is decreasing dramatically, and the telcos and the service providers are in the middle of all that. There’s an opportunity for any business today to take advantage of cloud and the almost infinite bandwidth that’s available to really expand their businesses as enterprises. There are definitely challenges that a lot of CEOs and CTOs have, such as hyper scalers moving into their territory. They have to have a frenemy type relationship there, because cloud is the biggest macro trend that we’ve seen in my career. They’ve got over the top players coming in making serious amounts of money using their infrastructure. Whether it’s a consumer or business, if there’s something wrong with the network, it’s seen as the service providers fault, rather than anything else from the myriad of things that affect it. It’s increasingly complex.

The growth rates are not anything like some of those other players that I’ve just touched on. Companies like Juniper and Cisco and Fortinet, who are providing services through service providers in some instances are also partnering with the cloud players and, and so on. It’s all pushing the value of the service provider or telco down. We’re trying to help push back against those forces that are against them. Telcos need to solve these big strategic challenges as they try to digitally transform. Companies that have been around for a long time seem antiquated, even mediaeval in some instances. They’re hanging on to systems, processes and infrastructure that they really need to change and transform.

Moving into the future, are there any particular technologies that you are particularly excited about that are on the horizon?

Yeah, there’s a lot of artificial intelligence, which is a big word. And there’s a lot of artificial intelligence washing that goes on in everything. Everybody’s got an artificial intelligence capability all of a sudden, but I think that when that’s harnessed in collaboration with human beings it has the potential to really transform a lot of areas and do a lot of good. Whether that’s in healthcare, medicine, research or education, there’s some real positives from that perspective. Everything is hyper-connected nowadays. We have infinite access to compute and store and network that creates a combination of all of those aspects, realistically. I still get buzzed off that I can set my alarm on my phone, or my alarm system, or I can see someone ringing the doorbell when I’m down the shops. I think everything’s got a little role to play, but fundamentally the interconnectedness of everything is what excites me. As long as it’s used for the right things, in the right manner.

What impact would you say virtualisation and cloud native software has had in the telecommunications industry?

When you look at telcos and service providers, they’ve got different domains of the network and different areas that I think there’s a lot of benefit to be had from virtualization. I mean, one of the things that I did when I left Intact was actually set up a small startup that was focused on virtualization and using IT infrastructure to pool resources. Fundamentally what that brings, if you look at what’s happened in data centres, the same thing starts to happen in networking and security. Virtualization brings an awful lot of flexibility and an awful lot of power. What we’re seeing is that desire to have a hyperscaling operational model. That’s part of the transition that needs to be happening in the search provider world, if they’re going to compete with hyper scalars, we’ve got to be agile and flexible and have speed when it comes to delivering services and what your customers want. Fundamentally it’s all about business outcomes, and what technology can bring to an organisation with the right vision and desire. It really revolutionises and transforms the way that they can operate.

But again, it’s a journey, right? It’s an evolution rather than a revolution. We’re certainly seeing a lot of virtualization in the open RAM space. There’s definitely virtualization in cloud hyper scalers with regards to value added services, whether that be security services or other types of applications. And again, the telcos are kind of caught in the middle a little bit and need to really harness and define their roles as to exactly what it is that they’re gonna be providing and offering to businesses. Because it’s a hyper connected world, but it’s also hyper competitive.

How do you think that virtualization will affect how we’re building and designing these networks?

I’m right in the heart of it with DriveNets. What virtualization brings operationally is it’s just a completely different transformation from a kind of a very fixed, modular legacy, monolithic type approach. It’s very much a chassis where you’re always limited by the capacity of that particular box. You can knit them together and you can get more scalable, etc. but you’re still dealing with everything box-by-box. What we see with virtualization and the advent of white boxes that are carrier class is the ability to really disaggregate and virtualize the entire network. The entire network effectively acts and as if it’s one router, for example, or one switch will be at a scale of distributed different countries, it doesn’t matter.

There’s a whole raft of operational benefits in terms of the way you manage that; everything down to the logistics runs on one or two different bits of white box software as opposed to five or six different routing boxes to do different functions. When you combine functions to offer a multi service approach the network becomes like a cloud, and that’s the bit that virtualization really brings. Then you can just drop containers into those networks, whether it’s a third party firewall, an edge router, a core router… It’s all interoperable, and it’s truly scalable. You just add more white boxes as you want more scale. The huge demand for capacity, has been driven by the ability of the technology to enable that.

To find out more about James Morgan’s insights on connectivity media, listen to the full episode of The Connectivity Matters Podcast.

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Accessing the Cyber Security and Intelligence Industry

In our second episode of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we sat down with intelligence specialist AJ Nash. He is the VP of intelligence for external cybersecurity company ZeroFOX, and he spoke to us about his journey through the Intel sector and how that’s lead him to where he is today. Read on for his perspectives on accessing the cyber security and intelligence industry. 

How did you first get into the Cyber Intelligence industry?

That’s a good question, and like a lot of people, I didn’t have a straight path. It wasn’t intentional, but I frankly don’t know if there’s a single thing in my career that’s got me here. I originally joined the Air Force, my intent was to be a police officer and go to law school, and my test did relatively well. I was in the Air Force for nine and a half years, then I medically retired and moved into defence contracting. And so I started doing traditional Intel work in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, things like that. 

I was recruited for an opportunity. I had an interview with a defence contractor, and I literally interrupted them about five minutes into the interview, and said ‘I think I’m in the wrong room’, because all we were talking about was maths, science, computer science, operations research and cybersecurity. I didn’t know anything about most of the stuff. I told them ‘I’m an intel guy, where’s the terror? Where are the bombs?’ And they said, ‘No, no, we got people for all these things. What we need is some intel folks, we’re trying to build a new concept for how to do intel analysis specifically for cyber, and we need to have experts. We need people who can translate this to make sure this is useful.’ That ended up becoming what we called at the time cyber intelligence preparation of the battlespace. 

It was a great opportunity, and I accidentally got into cyber and helped work and develop that programme with amazing, smart, brilliant people. I was one of the folks who helped write the book along with my five or six colleagues. A couple of folks did the training. This ended up becoming foundational training for contracts at NSA and Cyber Command for a lot of cyber work. And so I learned a lot from a lot of people much smarter than myself. And that’s how I ended up in cyber, which was very much accidental like I said. So you know, from a career standpoint, it’s great to do terror and terrorists, there was certainly funding there, and then you go into cyber and it was a lot of funding there too. And so that led to a career doing cyber intelligence work at the agency and cyber command. I went into the private sector also by accident to be honest. A friend of mine convinced me to join LinkedIn, although I had never had a social media account for obvious reasons with my career, I would have been immediately compromised. That was always fun! But somebody recruited me through LinkedIn, and I moved to the private sector. 

I had a really winding path from a kid who’s gonna be a competent lawyer to a guy who does cyber intelligence work with one of the greatest companies in the world. So I’m a lucky guy, they say you put yourself in the right position. Maybe I own a little bit of it, but people have helped me along and I’ve just ended up in really good spots. 

We talk a lot about barriers to entry into cybersecurity. Is security intelligence still a good route into the industry? 

I guess it was for me. Intelligence is enduring, Intel feeds everything. I don’t think it’s going anywhere, so I think it’s a great way to work in this industry. I don’t know if it’s the easiest way to get in, necessarily, but for folks who are coming out of government and military we’ve already got the background and experience. That’s actually where private sector companies probably should be hiring their first Intel leaders. For those who are in university right now, wondering ‘how do I get into cyber?’, it may or may not be the easiest route, because again, only maybe 10% of companies out there have Intel teams, but there is a lot of demand. So if they’ve done the research, if they’ve got the education to back it up, and they can make the pitch, there’s opportunity there. But I also think there’s nothing wrong with somebody who’s coming in and wants to be a SOC analyst or do threat hunting or incident response, they’re all great ways to get in, as long as people understand those are different careers. If you want to transition from one of those to Intel, it isn’t just changing a title and moving desks. There’s some study and work that needs to go into that. From what I’ve seen, most folks who are getting into cyberspace are not coming in through Intel.

Is diversity improving within cybersecurity?

I think diversity is better now than it was, but we have a long way to go. So you know, I think if you go look at any panel discussion, chances are you’re gonna find four white guys on it. If you look at most Intel teams, most cyber security teams, the majority of them are likely to be white males especially in the US and UK areas. But I do think it’s changing. Our teams are great – we have three senior directors on the team, two women and a guy. They do all happen to be white, but one was an immigrant, so we’re not all Americans. I think part of the challenge is the talent that we still have to grow, right? There’s still a challenge in many ways, women are still not being encouraged enough as girls to go into STEM, so there’s still a lot of cultural challenges. The trouble we have is where do you hire the people from if they don’t go through the funnel, if we don’t build people with these skill sets? I think we really need to encourage young people, all ages, races, genders, to, you know, to embrace technology and embrace these opportunities. And we need to put funding in place for them and give them opportunities to do it so that we have more diversity across the board. So that’s a challenge. For people in my position, if you’re hiring folks, you have to keep in mind, I don’t want 10 people on my team that are the same person 10 times over. There’s a value to it for the team standpoint. I think a lot of folks are putting a lot of effort into this. But it’s hard, and it’s a long way to go. So better, yes, but not nearly good enough yet.

You mentioned a few really interesting things there about potential barriers to entry into the sector. So what would you say are the barriers to entry? And what practical steps can we take to reduce those?

Access to education is a barrier. I’ve talked about this around the world. There’s a privilege that I’ve had to get where I am, and certainly access to education has been there. I think we have to develop programmes that give people opportunities, regardless of their socio-economic standing. There are there are great programmes that do these things, other mentorship programmes, and there are other education programmes, that give people some of these options, but we need more of that. We’re seeing at least in this industry a move away from the bias towards everybody having to have a degree. Certifications are really valuable, and being able to demonstrate you have a skill is really valuable. On the other side, I know self taught people who are brilliant but they have a hard time getting the interview. I think folks are trying to do a better job of saying, ‘let’s get them in the room. They say they can do things, let’s test them out.’ We can be more creative in our education, but also much more creative in our hiring. 

I think that the biggest barrier to entry right now is still having the resources, funding and opportunity to get the education, skills or certifications needed. We then need to have the creativity on the hiring side to look beyond a paper and a resume and say, ‘who is this person? What do they bring to the team? Can we give them a position and a shot?” That is tough because we’re for profit companies, and a lot of companies don’t want to invest in training, they would prefer to hire somebody who’s plug and play, because it saves them time and energy and money. I think we have some challenges to solve in that area as well, especially as we keep saying that we’re 3 million people short in cybersecurity, and the number goes up every year, so it’s gonna take a collective effort to get there. Some of that might involve the industry buckling down and saying ‘we’re gonna hire people we know are qualified, we’re going to train them up.’ I think we’re seeing some of those areas improve as well.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is entering the cybersecurity industry? 

My one piece of advice is to be bold. I think a lot of people self-select themselves out of opportunities. Confidence is a challenge. Imposter syndrome is real – I can attest to it. I think be bold, and don’t undersell yourself. If it’s something you think you can do, and you want to do it, even if your resume says nothing about it, try to throw your hat in the ring, Try to get into the interview, try to have a discussion. The worst thing that could happen is you’re right where you left off. You gotta go do the thing, right? Try to get in there and find a way and be persistent with it. If you don’t get it one time, try another time, you know, talk to people. That includes things like just reaching out to somebody on LinkedIn. Don’t stop yourself by thinking ‘that person is really important, they don’t have time for me’. Reach out! That’s how I did a lot of it. I built a lot of my connections just by saying ‘let’s have a conversation’. Now people do that with me, I have had tons of folks reach out to me. They always seem surprised when I answer and I say ‘yeah, let’s have a conversation instead of a call.’ And people seem shocked by that. Listen, I’m not that important. I’ve got time for you, and if it’s something I can help with I will. I think a lot of people think that these people with these great titles and great roles and great amazing things won’t be interested. But you reach out, and you realise they’re awesome, and they’re happy to talk to you, they want to help. If you’re not bold, you don’t ask the question. So what if they don’t answer and move on to the next person? A lot of them will, though. People want to help each other. My best advice is always to be bold. 

To hear more from AJ Nash and other industry experts, tune into the Cyber Security Matters podcast from neuco here. 

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.