North West Chapter Event: Cyber Security Start-Ups and Scale-Ups

Following on from the very successful virtual Launch of the North West Chapter in November 2020 and the first North West Chapter Event: ‘Careers in Cyber’ in December, we were delighted be joined by Philip Close (Director, Secora Consulting) and Marco Borza (CEO, Advantio) for our first meetup of 2021 titled ‘Cyber Security Start-Ups and Scale-Ups’.

The event was facilitated by Cian Collins (Country Manager, Advantio & Cyber Ireland NW Chapter Lead). Also joining us for this event were Kevin Buckley (Cybersecurity specialist with Enterprise Ireland), John McGarvey (Lecturer in LYIT) and Jillian Ruggiere (The Base Enterprise NW) who participated in an engaging and informative Q&A session following the talks by Philip and Marco.

Philip Close – Secora Consulting

Philip spoke about his journey from a career in manufacturing to founding a cyber security company in the North West and how his participation in a Capture the Flag (CTF) Event at the CyberSecurity conference IrissCon in 2011 which really ignited his interest in the area during his honours degree in Computer Security and Digital Forensics in LYIT. Philip mentioned how his degree had prepared and inspired him for a career in Cybersecurity.

Philip emphasized the importance of work life balance and how it can impact on the quality of service delivered to clients and how this was one of the reasons he had for setting up Secora consulting. Philip stated that 75% of time should be spent on client projects with the remainder on innovation, training and news on current attacks. He also talked about his experience in working for other companies as a consultant and how, along with Philip Graham was one of the motivating factors in branching out on their own was to be able to provide excellent customer service.

Secora are in the Base Enterprise NW and Philip talked about some of the supports available for start-ups and the importance of taking advantage of those. Secora will be hiring Cybersecurity staff in 2021 more information available here: Secora Consulting

Marco Borza – Advantio

Marco, founder and CEO of Advantio, shared the story of Advantio’s journey to date and why, since June 2020, there has been a drive to set up a Cyber Sec operation in the North West of Ireland. Marco spoke about “work life integration” and how this was one of the key principles around which he had built his business. He talked about how this allows people to work where they live as opposed to living where they work and the flexibility this afforded Advantio when hiring the right talent to build the business.

Marco compared the North West region to his own native Napoli and highlighted the importance of being able to keep the high-quality graduates that their third level institutes were producing in the region and providing them with compelling career opportunities.

Advantio are currently hiring, more information available here: Advantio

Panel Discussion

Kevin Buckley (Cybersecurity specialist with EI), John McGarvey (Lecturer in LYIT) and Jillian Ruggiere (The Base Enterprise NW) joined us for a Q&A following on from Philip and Marco.

Kevin spoke about his work with high potential cyber security startups nationally and some of the trends in the industry such as the growth of data, changes in regulations and the visibility of cyber risk up to board level.

Jillian provided an overview of the Base Enterprise NW in Stranorlar in the heart of Co Donegal. The BASE provides a supportive, friendly and encouraging environment that is for everyone, regardless of industry or ambition. They look to create a vibrant entrepreneurial community which extends beyond the walls of the Centre.

John McGarvey spoke about the importance of making all employees aware of securing customer data and the importance of keeping up to date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities. Philip Close commented on the Digital Operational Resiliency Act (DORA) and how it will affect the Cybersecurity industry and pentesting.

For more on this session, please see our YouTube video here:

From the North-West Chapter Leads:
Paul Brady, Optum
Cian Collins, Advantio
John McGarvey, Letterkenny Institute of Technology
Veronica Rogers, Institute of Technology Sligo