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Alumni

Sue McCauley

Career Path: Cyber Security Consultant, NEOM
Location: Weybridge, UK

My career began as Cabin Crew with an international airline for six years and has undergone many transitions since. From Food Operations Manager, to Marketing and Business Development, with blue-chip firms, then Project and Programme Management with Central Government and Defence organisations. Throughout this period I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, China, Switzerland and of course the UK.

I have had the good fortune to work for some of the best people and organisations and have always tried to pick up new learning along the way. As a teenager, I never studied for a degree and always felt that I had missed out on an amazing opportunity. Then I came across the Northumbria Cyber Security Masters' degree and decided to commit to some deep learning as a part-time student, alongside my 'full-on' day job. I knew that it would add gravitas and credibility to my CV. There was a terrific group of people signed up for the course and we quickly became friends. I believe we challenged some of the tutors, who weren't used to dealing with such a demanding mature class. We were fee paying students and wanted value, context, explanations and granularity in each module. with our different strengths, we would coax each other over the line in prep for exams, essays and the final dissertation. Our WhatsApp group went into overdrive every time results were coming out; soothing nerves, pacing ourselves and celebrating individual achievements. Graduation was such a thrill, acknowledging the pain and sacrifice to get there. Now I see more doors opening than ever before. I have worked as a Cyber Lead for a role in Dubai and the Group CISO for a global organisation.

What are you doing now?Sue McCauley

I currently work as Cyber Security Consultant for NEOM, one of a number of mega-projects being developed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this role have spoken at lots of Cyber Security conferences, in the UK and overseas. I speak to colleagues and business leaders about Cyber Resilience, with a key focus on Operational Technology and especially in safeguarding critical infrastructure. Cyber is the new battle ground for defrauding individuals, suppressing organisations and threatening national infrastructure across the globe. I continue to study and hone my knowledge and skills as Cyber Security continues to morph and perplex. Cyber attacks are increasing in sophistication and jeopardise progress, so it is important that we stay one step ahead! I am also the Strategy VP for the International Operational Technology Security Organisation (IOTSA). This is a community of interest for cyber specialists and engineers who work with OT so that they can both understand the controls required to secure these environments.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

Northumbria was very welcoming to a mature cohort of students who had a mixed bag of experience and education to bring them all on the same journey. Most of the tutors were able to bring their own experience and knowledge to support the modules by bringing context and examples that we could visualise. The campus was easy to reach and the curriculum recognised that most students were working full-time and did not overwhelm what energy we had left at the end of the working week. It was FUN!

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Take a deep breath and then immerse yourself in the learning, make friends with your cohort and become a team who supports each other. Also don't panic before exams - go for a pint afterwards!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?:

Fun, fabulous and fulfilling.

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