Cyber Expert Group

The Cyber Expert Group was established in March 2020 to bring together Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and Cyber Experts based in the North West in a collaborative and non-competitive way to represent the wider cyber interest of the business community. 

The group works in partnership with the Cyber Resilience Centre to support our mission, working with businesses to grow and strengthen their resilience against cybercrime and threats. Since its formation the group has formed two sub-groups:-


The Threat Intelligence Working Group, led by David Cook from DLA Piper, aims to harness the collective knowledge and power of the Cyber Expert Group by gathering threat intelligence and disseminate this to the North West business community via monthly bulletins.


The SME Working Group, led my Amy Lemberger from Gamma, aims to understand the cyber security needs and threats faced by SMEs in the various sectors across the regions. The group has prioritised the sectors in most critical need of assistance and is working to facilitate these sectors to better protect themselves against the cyber threats they are facing.

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Beverley McGowan

Chair of the Cyber Expert Group

Beverley started her career as an apprentice at Citigroup in the mid-'90s and spent several years in technical support before moving into IT leadership, heading up IT project Governance for Citibank, EMEA and completing her honours degree in Business and HR at MMU. She spent 23 years in the Financial Services sector in IT, Security, Privacy and Data leadership roles, including as Head of Data Governance, GDPR Programme lead and Group Information Security Officer for Royal London Group. In 2019 Bev launched her training, consulting and security services business The Specialists Hub (also trading as CyberPRO) and has recently launched an initiative to encourage and support women to enter the cybersecurity field via a supported apprenticeship programme working with WISE campaign and Digital Her. Bev is starting her MSc in Digital Technology and Cybersecurity at MMU in September part time.

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David Cook 

Threat Intelligence Group Working Lead

David Cook is a solicitor and a Legal Director at DLA Piper and advises on contentious cybersecurity and cybercrime matters.  

In the early stages of his career, David successfully represented a large number of individuals who were alleged to have committed cybercrime and cybersecurity offences.  He was invited by various police teams to deliver training sessions on how they could better investigate and prosecute these matters as part of the roll-out of regional cybercrime investigative capability.  He was invited by Keir Starmer QC, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, to a roundtable meeting of experts, in relation to the drafting of crown prosecutor guidance for the prosecution of social media-based offences.  

David has delivered seminars and key-note presentations to the University of Manchester, University of Derby, Henley Business School and at the National Cyber Security Centre funded centre of cybersecurity excellence at the University of Lancaster.

David has worked at a Big Four professional services firm and for a London-city headquartered international law firm and has worked on many high profile and significant cybersecurity incidents and data breaches, including with respect to regulatory notification, internal investigation and support and representation in the civil and the criminal law jurisdictions, many of which are sensitive and confidential in nature.  David is ranked as “Rising Star” in the Legal 500 UK 2020 directory.

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Amy Lemberger

SME Working Group Lead

Amy Lemberger is the Information Security Director at Gamma Group, responsible for the Group's data security activities. Amy has spent many years working within the telecommunications industry designing, implementing and leading security teams for multinational organisations including SOC, CSIRT and an Industry ISAC. Amy’s delivery driven mentality often leads her to challenge the status quo and innovate within her area of responsibility.

Amy holds a First Class (hons) degree in Digital Forensics as well as various current industry certifications including CISSP, CISM, GNFA and EnCE.

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Lee Clayton

Lee is a Senior Information security, Privacy and Risk management professional specialising in the area of Governance, Risk and Compliance, with a wealth of experience across multiple industries including ecommerce, payment card, manufacturing and telecoms.

Following a successful military career Lee retrained as an Information security auditor and quickly developed an interest in information security in a broader sense. This has led to global deployments with high profile companies such as National Grid, NCC Group, JCB, Gemalto and THG.

Recent roles have included developing and enhancing information security programs, and ensuring compliance with multiple regulations or directives (ISO 27001, PCI-DSS, GDPR). 

Working at the strategic, and operational level Lee has played a key part in ensuring Information security functions align with organisational strategy, goals and objectives and has enjoyed the challenge of providing the crucial link between stakeholders across various business functions whilst building and maintaining pivotal relationships .

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Graham Rowe

Graham has specialised in the security market for the last 7 years and has become one of the leading suppliers of security professionals, having supplied professionals to businesses across the UK from start-ups to global businesses. Over this period of time, Graham has built a respected reputation and extensive network, delivering Security Leader round tables and security meetups, which have been warmly received by the security community.

Recently, with the corona-virus pandemic Graham has branched out, to help businesses of all sizes, not just with professionals but in all areas across the security discipline. 

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Matt Summers

Matt Summers is Vice President of Engagement Management, Research and Development for Aon. He has over 20 years experience in cyber security working for vendors, end-user organisations and consultancies. A former British Army Captain in the Royal Corps of Signals and served as a Scientific Advisor at the Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor for Her Majesty's Government.

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Graeme Park

Graeme Park is the Chief Information Security Officer at Matillion, a cloud native software firm based in Altrincham, providing data integration and transformation tooling to a range of industries. A Former Special Force Officer, he spent 10 years in the Royal Signals before working in public sector projects, consulting with Santander's FinTec organisations and heading up Global Security Operations for Manchester E-Commerce Giant, The Hut Group. Outside of work Graeme runs Cyber Circle, an organisation aimed at offering pro-bono security advice to the Charity sector and is an active speaker on the InfoSec circuit, delivering keynote speeches on a variety fo subjects.

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Paul Hingley

Siemens PPSSO GB&I (Principle Product Security and Solution Officer) & Industrial Security and Safety Services Business Unit Manager


Paul began his career in the automotive industry and worked in this industry supply chain for many years in the UK and overseas. Paul joined Siemens in 1997 as a Network Applications Engineer before progressing to various Product and Business Management roles which included Data, Networks, IIOT and Safety.


As PPSSO for Siemens PLC Paul represents Siemens on various Government initiatives including being a member of the NCSC ICS Steering group and various working in groups in other sectors and including Defense. Paul holds various qualifications in Cyber Security and Safety.

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Sion Lloyd-Jones 

Siôn is an experienced leader within cyber and privacy/GDPR with 25 years’ experience of risk management security. He has been leading cyber strategy and digital security transformation projects in KPMG since 2015 and previously fulfilled a very successful career as senior officer in the Royal Air Force, MOD and government agencies.  Siôn specialises in supporting boardrooms at many types of large Northern organisations and across an wide range of government organisations, sectors and industries helping them understand and pragmatically form capability development plans and strategies that will improve digital security, compliance, trust and operating confidence. 

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Danny Dresner

Danny Dresner is the first Professor of Cyber Security at the University of Manchester which he joined after 22 years with The National Computing Centre. His academic work revolves around teaching, and people-technology symbiosis. He is a visiting lecturer at Cranfield University, delivering modules on risk and cyber defence to cohorts from India and the Western Balkans at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Chevening Programme. Daniel takes a diverse community-based approach to cyber security, and runs exercises to help people learn how to cope with cyber attacks.

Danny is also a founder and a director of The IASME Consortium championing cyber security for small businesses, is the National Cyber Security Centre’s partner for the Cyber Essentials Scheme, and runs a cyber security programme for neurodiverse, employing them in a community security operations centre.

He was voted 2nd to top cyber security influencer  in the UK 2017 and 11th worldwide in 2019.

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Mark Johnson 

My role is to oversee TalkTalk's Security Operations team, which includes our 24x7 Security Operations Centre, and to be the figurehead across the TalkTalk business for all activities related to stopping our customers from being impacted by phone or phishing scams. Prior to joining TalkTalk I was Head of Security Operations at Williams & Glyn and I spent several years in the Cyber consulting practice at KPMG.

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Graham Thomson

Graham describes himself as a battle-hardened cyber-warrior with over 20 years experience at the sharp end. He has in-depth industry knowledge covering intelligence, cybersecurity, technology risk, incident response and serious crime investigations. A pragmatic realist, he recognises the difference between theory and practice and strives to make sure that his security policies make sense to colleagues and are a business enabler. Motivated by setting and achieving ambitious goals, Graham sees the bigger picture and takes a logical and planned approach to solving complex problems. An analytical and independent thinker, he loves to pursue knowledge and implement new, innovative, efficient ways of working.​

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Jackson Smithies

Jackson is a security recruiter that has worked in the industry with Robert Walters for 6 years, 4 of which in Manchester. He has been fortunate to work with an expansive range of businesses from FTSE100 to local SME’s. Through forging great relationships with his network he now runs Manchester Information Security monthly on a bi-monthly basis for the community to come together. His work also expands to regularly working with people returning to work, career advice, CV tutorials and connect professionals to provide mentoring opportunities for their peers.

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Sean Gilchrist

Sean joined the Co-Operative Bank as Chief Digital Officer in November 2018. he has over 25 years’ experience in digital mainly in the financial services industry. Prior to joining the Co-operative Bank, he was Managing Director of Digital Channels for Commercial & Corporate Banking at Lloyds Banking Group.

Previously, he served as Managing Director Digital Retail Banking at Barclays. He hah always played an instrumental role in the transformation of digital banking with a clear vision focused on innovation and growth. Whilst at Barclays was one of the drivers behind Pingit and mobile banking.

Prior to this, he held a number of other digital roles. He began my career with Lloyds Bank on their graduate scheme.

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Mary Culshaw

Mary is an Independent IT Security Consultant with 25 year’s experience in IT, with 15 of those in IT Security. She has spent over 20 years working in the Banking and Finance sector and a fantastic few years working in Cyber Security for a Global Manufacturing company.

With a BSc in Information Systems, started out as a coder/developer then on to IT System and Network support before moving to IT Security.  She has undertaken a broad range of roles within IT Security and Cyber Security, including Security Operations Planning and Strategy, Secure by Design System Reviews and SaaS Cloud Security Reviews (cloud system supply chain).

Mary is the Vice President of (ISC)2 North West Chapter.  The chapter brings likeminded security professionals together with events, presentations and activities. Creating a great environment to hear from others and discuss and share Cyber Security experiences.  

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Rupak Kharel

Rupak Kharel is the Reader in Cyber Security at the Manchester Metropolitan University which he joined in 2011. He is leading the £6million ERDF funded Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry (GMCF) project. GMCF exists to work with SMEs in the GM area to bolster cyber defences, build resilience and protect businesses operations and assets. The foundry will help SMEs to develop new products and services that embodies the ethos and notion of 'Digital Security by Design'.

Rupak has PhD in secure communication, completed in 2011 from Northumbria University, UK. He has over 15 years of experience in the academia where he lectures on various modules on cyber security, digital forensics and emerging digital technologies. He is avid advocate of digital transformation for SMEs and have worked on multiple Innovate UK and industry funded projects. His research focusses on cyber physical systems and challenges including cyber security amongst other areas and have published abundantly in journals and conferences.

He is a senior member of the IEEE, member of the IET and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), U.K.

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Natasha Pye 

Natasha is a Programme Manager in the field of governance, risk and compliance. She has a deep understanding of delivering change and the related risks. Natasha has been delivering programmes for a variety of clients (mainly financial services) , with a focus on real and lasting transformation. In her spare time she volunteers to mentor individuals struggling to find work after an extended period of time usually > 6months. 

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David Willis 

A certified cyber security veteran with four decades of experience. An individual worked in health and social care for the past twelve years helping protect digital assets from individual organisation digital systems to national NHS data centres. A professional who spent five years leading the information governance service in one of Greater Manchester’s Acute Hospitals. A pragmatic digital advocate who passionately believes that the appropriate sharing of information will improve the way we deliver care whilst protecting the privacy of the individual. 

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Greg van der Gaast

Greg has over two decades of technical and management experience in Information Security, starting as one of the most notorious hackers of the late 1990’s. A frequent speaker about bringing visibility, care, and accountability to the Information Security profession, he is an expert in building efficient InfoSec organisations by enabling leadership, addressing root causes, and harnessing human potential.

He is the Head of Information Security at the University of Salford in addition to having his own consultancy, CMCG, which helps others deliver effective and accountable information assurance.

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Mick Ebsworth

Mick Ebsworth is the Information Security Director for the Co-op Group and is a proven security leader with extensive experience working across a variety of sectors. Strong business acumen combined with deep security and wider technology expertise. Skilled at working with organisations to assess their risk appetite, define security operating models and establish/run security teams and practices.  He's passionate about security acting as an enabler for business success and defining security functions that support business growth agendas and manage risks within appetite.  With well over 25 years of experience in the Information Security Management, Governance and overall Risk, Mick has worked with many leading organisations in most market sectors.

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Nick Bell 

Nick Bell is Detective Superintendent and National Policing Director for Cyber Resilience Centres with the NPCC National Cybercrime Programme.

His role is to lead on the implementation of the Cyber Resilience Centre network across England and Wales. This is to support the Police Leads for each Centre and work with BRIM, the NPCC delivery partner. He works closely with NCSC and the National Cyber Protect in aligning the CRC network with Team Cyber UK. Nick also manages key strategic stakeholder relationships with the Home Office, Chief Officers, Police & Crime Commissioners and private sector senior stakeholders and supports universities and academia to develop student delivered services. 

Nick has 26 years policing experience, a career detective he joined the National Cybercrime Programme from SEROCU where he was Head of Regional Cyber Crime, the Regional Economic Crime Unit and the ISO Accredited Digital Forensics Unit. Nick has extensive experience as a Senior Investigating Officer in cyber and economic crime in leading complex cyber dependant and cyber enabled crime investigations, cryptocurrency, fraud, money laundering and confiscation investigations.

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Ben Pollard

Ben is Director of Cyber Security Specialists, a Manchester-based consultancy supporting clients ranging from SMEs to large private sector organisations and government departments.  Having worked previously for both Capita and IBM where he developed top tier consulting experience across a wide range of projects, Ben is a firm believer that Security is a business enabler, not a blocker!  

He is an NCSC Certified Security Architect, AWS Certified Solutions Architect and holds various other certifications including CISSP, CEH, SABSA SCF and ISO27001 Lead Auditor.  Cyber Security Specialists' key areas of expertise include Cyber Security, Cloud Security, Cyber Essentials, ISO 27001 Certification and Penetration Testing. They pride themselves in providing pragmatic and cost effective Cyber Security services.

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Robert di Schiavi

Robert is a former hacker, who has served with the MOD in a variety of defence, security and intelligence roles. After retiring from the military Robert worked as an NGO for the DOD, MOD, UN and the Petrochem industry. He has a specific skill sets in physical security, humint, threat analysis and threat hunting. Robert now heads up the Cyber Security Team at N Brown Group Plc and is also the CISO for Liverpool Community Advice.


Robert holds degrees in Physics, Mathematics and Law, and is currently completing a double masters in computer science and cyber.

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Kat Sykes

Kat Sykes is the Threat Intelligence Lead for the National Management Centre (NMC). A cyber security protection facility for police forces across England and Wales. Prior to this, Kat worked in the finance sector identifying threats and finding innovative solutions to limit and prevent impact to customers. This role also saw her liaising with law enforcement, government and other agencies to share intelligence on emerging threats and security events. 


Kat is an advocate for the proactive sharing of threat intelligence across multiple sectors, with a view to positioning and creating conversations that are designed to reduce harm to organisations.

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John Amer

John works for BT Security Advisory Services as the Technology Futures Team Leader advising internal and external clients on evaluating new technologies and working with security technology start-up companies to adopt their products. He has been employed at BT for a long time with the past 20 or so years working in security where he has held roles running the technical product development team for their managed services and the Global Banking and Financial Management security design team amongst other things.


John holds both CISSP and CCSP qualifications from ISC2. He is an active Cisco CCIE with over 20 years tenure and a variety of other technical qualifications. He currently sits on the CCIE Council, is an occasional contributor to #INIT6 and is North West branch chairperson for CIISec.

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