Nicola Whiting is an award-winning cyber security professional who likes to think outside the box. As someone who is neurodivergent, Nicola is passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion in the sector to enable innovative practices to address rapidly changing cyber threats. She is also the Worcestershire Commissioner for the UK Cyber Science and Innovation Audit, with significant experience in the use of AI and automation in cyber security.
Information security Magazine: What is the best part of your job?
Nicola Whiting: The autonomy I have to try new ideas and the inspiring people I work with both inside and outside of Titania. This is especially true for those focused on increasing industry diversity, combating the stagnation of groupthink, and increasing innovation and sustainability.
IM: And what’s the worst?
NW: Finding enough hours in the day and choosing what to work on (too many ideas, too little time).
IM: What is your proudest achievement (could be professional or personal)?
NW: My proudest professional achievement was receiving the Sparky Baird Award from the US Army for my news on the transition from kinetic to AI-driven cyberwarfare. (In military terms, it’s a bit like getting a Pulitzer, and it’s a huge honor for a non-US citizen to be awarded it.) I personally took my husband and our parents to Buckingham Palace to be awarded an MBE for “Services” to international trade and diversity’ – I think my mum almost burst with pride and the photos from that day are some of my most treasured memories.
IM: Who do you really admire in the industry?
NW: The list is too long to mention – but people like Dr Jessica Barker, Dr Victoria Baines, Becky Pinkard, Amanda Finch, Cian John, Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Jane Frankland and many others are working to advance both the technical excellence as well as inclusive practices in our industry.
IM: What was your path to cybersecurity?
NW: I was headhunted to help build the business end of a cybersecurity startup and never left!
IM: What is the most misunderstood thing about information security?
NW: This information security is all about preventing access and locking things down. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – it’s about providing safe, secure access to the information people need, when they need it, so they can make successful, effective decisions. Information security must enable productivity and ensure a safe work environment.
Quick Start Questions and Answers
IM: Tell me in one sentence what your job is
NW: Building high-performing teams that understand their individual strengths and can maximize them to “get things done!”
IM: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
NW: That it’s okay to fail as an option – as long as you learn from it!
IM: Tell me something about yourself that our readers will be surprised by
NW: I sing in a folk band and am known for my Victoria Wood impressions.
IM: What’s your secret sin?
NW: Reading science fiction and fantasy novels – they are a fantastic way to switch to a pure escape from reality.
biography: Nicola Whiting MBE is co-owner of the Titania Group. She is also an Amazon bestselling author, an award-winning cybersecurity leader, and a board member of the NeuroCyber CIC (an organization dedicated to increasing NeuroDiversity in Cybersecurity).