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Why I started the Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards

By August 16, 2023November 28th, 2023No Comments

Blog initially published on the IT Security Guru

I don’t typically like awards; let’s be honest, more often than not, they’re pay to play – and most of us see them for what they are!

It begs the question; how come we ended up running an award that literally makes no money and takes a huge amount of time to organise for the heroes that work for me – Beth Smith and Nicole Sigrist?

It’s because there have never been any awards for the real people; the ones teaching, the mentors, those doing the seemingly boring stuff like compliance or infrastructure. And what about those amazing admin staff or coders and penetration testers who work way more hours than they should just because they feel duty-bound? Or those in government protecting us from state-sponsored attacks?

The idea of the Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards came from a survey we did many years ago when we asked a simple question – do you often miss family events because of important work commitments? And would you believe it – an overwhelming 92% said ‘yes’.

It got me thinking – why doesn’t anyone recognise these proper heroes? The ones that literally protect our country, but you don’t know they exist because they quietly go about their jobs. As we all know, cybersecurity is a very modest industry made up of extraordinarily humble, good people.

So now, 8 years down the line, we’ve had almost 1000 nominees and given awards out to over 100 people from right across the country in all disciplines. We’ve enjoyed 8 wonderful evenings where everyone and anyone can join us to network and meet with other people in our fabulous industry.  So why wouldn’t we do it?!!

These awards are totally non-profit and the little money we get from sponsorship goes to pay for the venue, bar bill and the beautiful award trophies themselves. It’s a hoot – literally a piss-up in a brewery with a chance to meet up with friends and colleagues old and new and celebrate the people that make our industry so incredible. From teachers who pique the interest of young kids and lecturers at universities inspiring the next wave of cyber professionals to the people keeping our data safe or raising security awareness in their own organisations and beyond, we uncover these truly worthy award-recipients every year.

Even though budgets are getting tighter and people don’t have money for sponsoring events, we’re still going ahead as we have 3 very kind sponsors sticking their heads out and supporting the event for 2023. These include KnowBe4 – who are always hugely supportive of all our events, Decipher Cyber (winners from last year) and Bora – who all want to see the awards continue.

BUT we do need one more sponsor – so if you fancy being part of these awards and want to give back to the industry, we’d love to hear from you!!!

And if you know anyone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty – be it a graduate, compliance officer, CISO, marketing person, brilliant salesperson or just your favourite client doing great things for fostering diversity and inclusion or wellbeing, all you need to do is tell us why. Even our forms are simple and don’t take long so get thinking – nominations are now open and we’re looking for our heroes!