I am running to become an Elected Director on the TechUK Main Board
I am running because I want to use my experience as part of the founding team of Risk Ledger, a British cybersecurity SME, to bring a new perspective to the Board.
Over the past two years, I have played a significant role in raising awareness of what we are doing at Risk Ledger and growing the business from a start up with an early version of a product to a scale up that counts BAE AI, ASOS and the City of London Corporation among our growing client base. That tech start up journey is currently a large part of my life and I want to bring that experience and perspective to the TechUK Board which is currently dominated by some of the biggest names in tech.
I have three clear areas of interest that I want to champion as an Elected Board member.
Representing British tech SMEs
Our experience at Risk Ledger trying to breakthrough as a start-up is not unique and a position on the Board of TechUK will allow me to work with others to address some of the solvable challenges many tech SMEs face.
We are actually very fortunate at Risk Ledger. Having won the inaugural TechUK Cyber Innovation Den, the NCSC’s Cyber Den at CyberUK and the South Summit Industry 4.0 competitions, we are considered one of the most innovative cybersecurity start ups in the UK. We were selected to be a member of the London Office of Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA) and we have participated in several accelerator programmes.
Despite this, we have still found it very expensive and difficult to present our solution directly to relevant buyers in the UK’s public and private sector.
This makes me think about how hard it would have been if we hadn’t achieved the aforementioned awareness which is the position of many great tech SME.
I know this is a challenge our peers are facing so I want to bring it to the TechUK Board to ensure the organisation is laser focused on ensuring tech SMEs that achieve strong market validation are given all the support possible to scale awareness of their products and services to relevant buyers and partners.
Diversity is strength
Have a look at the current TechUK Board below.
There isn’t a single black face among the 30+ Board members.
I am not interested in quotas or percentages but I know diversity in all organisations delivers benefits for more than just the traditionally marginalised.
One of the biggest challenges in our sector is attracting new talent — both young talent and career shifters.
WorldSkills UK recently commission research conducted and published by the Learning & Work Institute in 2021 that found one of the four key reasons for a growing digital skills gap in the UK is ‘a lack of relatable role models’ for people deciding whether to pursue a career in the sector.
When I look at the current TechUK Board, I wonder how many talented people we lose to the medical professions, law, media and other industries where they can see (relatively) better representation and more role models.
I want to be on the Board to be one of those role models while also giving voice to the BAME tech community’s challenges and needs so they can be a part of the conversation on par with all others.
Putting Cybersecurity First
Cybersecurity used to be a term that people used with an air of mystique, not really knowing what it meant but certain it had nothing to do with them and their role.
Now, cybersecurity threats are ubiquitous and cyber criminals are equal opportunity offenders, putting any business or individual in their sights — large or small. It is an issue every organisation has to deal with (whether they like it or not).
A large part of my current job at Risk Ledger is telling the story about how a poor cybersecurity risk management regime makes the wider supply chain ecosystem less resilient.
At Risk Ledger, our platform operates like a secure network allowing organisations to share cybersecurity risk data for free with their clients who are conducting due diligence against them. Suppliers can also run their own supply chain cybersecurity risk management programme on the platform, building the type of network you can see in the image above.
This means that I have direct insight into the aggregated and anonymised cybersecurity maturity data of the 900+ organisations on the Risk Ledger platform.
For instance, we recently uncovered that in April 2021, 19% of organisations do not have a remote working policy that includes security despite the pandemic-induced wave of remote working, 18% of organisations don’t have a documented backup policy despite the massive increase in ransomware attacks and 13% of organisation don’t even have an appointed person responsible for cybersecurity!
I want to bring these types of insight to the Board so we can ensure the organisation is doing the right thing to help make the UK tech sector and wider economy the most cyber safe in the world to live, do business and play online.
If you are a TechUK member with voting rights and share my priorities for TechUK, I am asking for you to vote for me, Ashley Mitchell, by 5pm BST on the 7th May using this link.