29 March 2017

Lawrence Jones MBE, CEO UKFast speaking on the panel at Unlocked Mnachester 2017

Speaking at the Unlocked Manchester conference yesterday.

Trying to sleep last night, I couldn’t switch off my brain – there were so many ideas and so much information whirring about, I simply couldn’t get to sleep. Now, whilst I don’t sleep particularly well at the best of times, yesterday there was a reason behind it. It had been an extraordinary day!

I started the day with my usual exercise routine, nothing strange there, then heading out with my team to an event held at KPMG’s office in Manchester city centre. Here I heard all about a bunch of incredible young entrepreneurs who had entered to win the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge North West final.

These extraordinary kids pitched their ideas and I was completely blown away. The challenge, supported by The Prince’s Trust, is designed to help young people to understand business concepts and how to apply them. I was on the judging panel with Sir Peter Fahy, the Co-operative’s Sharon Pegg, KPMG’s Jonathan Holt, radio host Saeed Atcha and Sarah KhanBashir MBE.

The winning team, Team Healthwise from Ladybridge High School in Bolton, delivered a polished pitch that I think many adult business leaders would struggle to match! I was also impressed with Altrincham Grammar School’s cyberbullying app concept. It was inspiring to see young people tackling issues that directly affects them with innovation and, more importantly, confidence.

I offered them the same advice I offer any budding entrepreneur: dream big and write your goals down. I know from seeing my daughters thrive that age is just a number, my ten-year-old Poppy has been showing an entrepreneurial spark for years and she has already learned the power of persuasion. That’s how she’s ended up with the chickens and tortoises that she’s been asking for for years!

Returning to the office full of energy and inspired after the event, we went straight into another. Unlocked Manchester was the first cybersecurity conference of its type and the response we had to it was phenomenal. We had more than 400 subscribers, the auditorium was packed! I have never seen it so full.

Princes Trust Mosaic Enterprise Challenge

The winning team with the judges at the Prince’s Trust Mosaic Enterprise Challenge North West Finals

Speakers including Terry Greer-King of Cisco, cybersecurity analyst Graham Cluley and Justin Joyce of Lloyds Banking Group shared their insight into the ever-changing world of cyber threats and business security. Two of the Secarma and Pentest team delivered a live hack to show just how easy it is to abuse website functionality to steal customer data, and we heard real-life examples of the cost of falling victim to a hack. And it wasn’t just insight from in the room, the event was trending on Twitter across the UK for several hours.

I’ve known for some years that the focus for digital business is now on security and making sure that you and your business are as protected as possible, and this just validates the business decisions that have been made in response. We’ve invested heavily in Secarma; acquiring Pentest and turning it into a global team. We’ve also invested heavily in security at UKFast, acquiring Secure-IA to offer government-level, IL3 and 4 secure data centre facilities.

The people in the room last night were there to learn how to secure themselves and the insight from the speakers was invaluable. If you missed it, the UKFast team have posted a summary of the live blog from the event.

I lay in bed and my head was spinning! After I finally fell asleep, I woke up this morning raring to go. I love inspirational days like this, even if it does mean losing a little sleep!

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