CEO of the UK Cyber Security Council
Simon has over twenty years’ experience within the education, business and charity sectors in senior leadership and management positions and is very passionate about professional development and career opportunities that exist in the UK through mediums including university, training and apprenticeships.
He has devoted most of his working life to supporting and developing people to raise their aspirations, develop their skills and talents and to promote social mobility to be impactful and to make a positive contribution to society.
His current role as CEO of the UK Cyber Security Council involves working in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). They aim to enhance and expand the nations cyber skills at every level through a world class and diverse cyber security profession that inspires and equips future talent as outlined in the National Cyber Strategy. As the CEO, Simon stands up and leads the organisation, ensuring it is fit for purpose to deliver on their vision, mission and values.
What are the main challenges for business leaders?
"One of the challenges for businesses in the UK is the cost-of-living crisis. This obviously impacts the wider community and especially young people. We have significant skills within cyber security, so I think it’s really important business leaders understand the challenges that are taking place and really try to set up the programs that support young people into employment.
I think some of the main trends and developments which will have an impact on businesses is the change to more hybrid working and remote working- this is really important to people working and for using information technology. For organisations they have to not just create the right culture but also create the right environment for people to really thrive within an organisation. Another trend is a having a round understanding of what’s taking place in the marketplace for organisations to be agile in the current context."
What skills do graduates need to become good business leaders?
"The essential skills that a graduate should have to be a business leader is to be a visionary and an entrepreneur. It’s important to inspire people to really get them to follow you through effective communication, being honest and working from the basis of integrity and authenticity. It’s important to be a problem solver so you need to come to the table with solutions. My whole approach is ‘don’t come to me with a problem but come to me with a solution’ and sometimes it’s taking people on that journey of that solution focused and growth mindset. It’s important as a leader that you’re the one setting the example and setting the right culture within your organisation or your business."
How important is the role of universities?
"The role that universities play in growing our economy is really to engage students and create holistic students. What I mean by that is that students have the technical knowledge and expertise that they’re being taught on the subjects but also the soft skills and the employability skills too. What we often find is that sometimes students may have an academic understanding but don’t know how to write a CV, how to communicate within the work environment or engaging with a work environment seems to be a challenge.
It’s important that students get work experience because one of the key challenges is that the students will often have an academic qualification but no experience in the field and so what you then find is that it’s difficult for them to secure a job."
Why did you want to be a Visiting Professor?
"What excites me about being a Visiting Professor at Aston Business School is not just being a name but also to make an active contribution to the development of the business school and supporting staff etc and using my contacts and networks. I’m very excited about being a visiting professor and I want to take an active role."