Tell us about yourself and how you got involved with CyberOwl
CyberOwl is a cyber-security analytics company. I am a principal analyst/scientist with over 19 years of experience in the defence and security sector and was contacted by the Chief Scientific Officer Siraj Shaikh after meeting at a cyber-security event. I lead a team of analysts for CyberOwl, to maintain and develop our capability.
Who is the product aimed at?
Cyber attacks are now a certainty and most organisations struggle to understand their current cyber risk exposure.
Medulla, our first product, is a cyber risk prioritisation platform that helps the customer make decisions earlier. Medulla provides an understanding of which assets are under the greatest threat and highlights vulnerabilities in simple terms. The platform will immediately draw the client’s attention to any escalating threats to business-critical assets.
Medulla is aimed particularly at IT and operational technology in water treatment and water distribution plants, and in Maritime and Littoral space. Critical national infrastructure is an area that is under considerable cyber-security threat. There have been attacks on dams, energy distribution and even nuclear power plants. These targets will likely fall prey to further cyber attacks as cyber threats are developed as a method of warfare.
Why did you decide to apply to the SME Leaders Programme?
Siraj Shaikh was part of the SME Leaders programme in 2016 and recommended that I apply as well to support me with developing self-confidence as a leader, understanding business principles, and growing as a strategic business leader. It would also help me in building and contributing to a team.
We gave you a £10,000 grant to spend on leadership courses of your choice. What did you go for?
What does a typical month’s interaction with the Enterprise Hub involve?
In any given month there could be a coaching or mentoring session, a workshop on key skills such as public speaking or approaching the news media, or a networking event organised by SME Leaders themselves to provide support for each other. In the end over 150 hours of training, mentorship and networking were provided during the six-month programme to support my development. I don’t believe that any other leadership programme could have provided so much dedicated effort.
What impact did the programme have on you and your business? What are the most important lessons you learnt?
The impact on me has been immeasurable. I have certainly grown in confidence over the last few months. It has also helped me take on more responsibility at work in business development as well as my analytics role. I have learnt so much in terms of time management and what makes a good leader.
The programme has raised my profile and has also helped to get the company’s name out into wider circulation. Access to the Taylor Centre at the Academy has allowed us to have a more central place in London to meet our customers.
What does the future hold for CyberOwl?
CyberOwl’s future is very exciting. We have just opened our second set of UK offices, and we intend to keep pushing into the maritime and littoral space and build a consortium around water industrial control systems to test new ideas in cyber-security and to keep critical national infrastructure safe.
What advice would you give to potential applicants?
Make sure you understand why you want to do this programme, and how it aligns with your company vision. Be clear on why you and your company stand out from the crowd. And for the interview process, make sure you know your stuff, but be prepared to acknowledge the areas in which you need to develop.
The SME Leaders Programme is now currently open for applications - if you're from an engineering startup with ambitious plans for growth and think you could benefit from a £10,000 training grant, specialist business mentoring and personal development coaching, apply now! Please visit: https://enterprisehub.raeng.org.uk/programmes/sme-leaders-programme/