Q&A: Nicola Whiting

Nicola Whiting is an award-winning cybersecurity 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 tackle rapidly-changing cyber-threats. She is also Worcestershire’s Commissioner for the UK Cyber Science & Innovation Audit, with significant expertise in the use of AI and automation in cybersecurity. 

Infosecurity Magazine: What’s the best thing about your job?

Nicola Whiting: The autonomy I have to try new ideas and the inspiring people I get to work with, both inside and outside Titania. This is especially true of those who are focused on increasing industry diversity, fighting the stagnation of groupthink and increasing innovation and resilience.

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’s your proudest achievement (can be professional or personal)?

NW: My proudest achievement professionally was receiving the Sparky Baird award from the US Military for my news piece on the transition from kinetic to AI-driven cyber warfare. (In military terms it’s a bit like being given a Pulitzer and it’s a huge honor for a non-US citizen to be awarded it.) Personally, it was taking my husband and our parents to Buckingham Palace to be awarded an MBE for ‘Services to International Trade and Diversity’ – I think my mum nearly exploded with pride and the pictures of that day are some of my most treasured memories.

IM: Who do you really admire in the industry? 

NW: That’s a list too long to mention – but people like Dr Jessica Barker, Dr Victoria Baines, Becky Pinkard, Amanda Finch, Sian John, Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Jane Frankland and the many others working to advance both technical excellence and inclusive practices in our industry.

IM: What was your route into cybersecurity?

NW: I was headhunted to help build the business end of a cybersecurity startup and never left!

IM: What’s the most misunderstood thing about information security?

NW: That information security is all about preventing access and locking things down. In fact, it’s the opposite – it’s about giving safe secure access to information that people need, when they need it, so they can make successful effective decisions. Information security should enable productivity and provide safe working environments.

Quick-fire Q&A

IM: Tell me in one sentence what your job is about

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 OK for failure to be an option – as long as you learn from it!

IM: Tell me something about you that our readers will be surprised by

NW: I sing on the folk circuit and am known for my Victoria Wood impressions.

IM: What’s your guilty secret?

NW: Reading sci-fi and fantasy novels – they’re a fantastic way to switch off into pure escapism.

Bio: Nicola Whiting MBE is co-owner of Titania Group. She is also an Amazon bestselling author, an award-winning leader in the field of cybersecurity and a board member of NeuroCyber CIC (an organization dedicated to increasing NeuroDiversity in cybersecurity).

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