This article was edited by SPRITE+ Research Associate Dmitry Dereshev, with responses and edits from Tutor in Cybersecurity and Computer Science at CU Scarborough Dr. Duncan Greaves.
The spotlight today is on Duncan Greaves – TOGAF certified enterprise architect, CISSP Security Practitioner, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert in Business Intelligence, Tutor in Cybersecurity and Computer Science at CU Scarborough, and a SPRITE+ member.
How would you describe your job to a 12-year-old?
It’s my job to learn about computers and people. Occasionally I get the pleasure of teaching students about what I do and how they can safely work online with others.
Could you describe what you do during a typical workday?
A typical workday involves a lot of administration. During term time I am busy doing teaching, marking and firefighting. I mark the end of my work day by going for a swim in the sea – living in Scarborough is a massive plus for the great outdoors, especially in summer. Evening is generally my reflective and research time. I often scribble in notepads and read any interesting articles that come my way. Research is my ‘fun’ activity.
Could you describe a challenging project that you’ve recently worked on?
I have recently worked as a data visionary on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) innovation sandpit for three weeks – a very ambitious project to produce synthetic data to help companies understand the impact of COVID-19, but also to aid innovation in finance.
Many small and medium-sized enterprise developers cannot get access to banking and credit data with which to develop products against. Finance is so fast moving, I had to spend each day learning new technical skills.
On the upside, I found all of the staff at the FCA and the participating companies to be very collaborative and helpful in explaining stuff, and I feel that the project is a pioneering way for finance companies to ‘give back’ and promote innovation in the sector.
What training/experience did you have at the start of your career?
My first degree (BSc) was in engineering geology at Newcastle University, so I spent most of the first six years of my career being seasick on oil and gas drilling ships in the North Sea and the Middle East. As most drilling rigs are bristling with computers, I picked up enough programming skills to study for a Masters in Information Systems at The University of Huddersfield to save the world from the Y2K bug. It wasn’t until a full 15 years later I applied to go back for my PhD in Cybersecurity Management at Coventry University.
Be an explorer, you never know where you might end up.
How did you get into your current role?
The campus here at CU Scarborough is an outpost of the Coventry University Group, so I was included in any of the internal vacancies that came around. Scarborough has a long history in Signals Processing but is an area of low social mobility with so much potential.
What do you wish you'd known when you started your career?
Academics don’t spend two months of the year in Tuscany.
What would you recommend to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Never stop taking the opportunities to learn that come your way. This makes you more adaptable.
What troubles did you have progressing through your career?
Working as a contractor and consultant made me adopt a contract mentality to some projects, but I came to understand that the technical outputs of systems is only one part of the equation. Valuing people and helping them to realise their potential is the greatest outputs we can produce.
What one stereotype would like to dispel about your job or industry?
Cybersecurity as war. It’s not true, and if we adopt that mindset we are always looking for enemies. Cybersecurity is important in so many aspects of personal security that we, as practitioners, should not overstate the perils of computing; it has added so much to other aspects of society.
How would you describe your research or business interest in relation to SPRITE+?
I learned about SPRITE+ whilst doing my PhD research, and decided to get involved.
I am incredibly pleased to be part of a SPRITE+-funded project: Future Payment Systems: Data, Technology and Privacy after Covid, looking into trust, identity, privacy, and security research as it relates to changes in the payments landscape. SPRITE+ is a good thing.
How do you hope to benefit from working with SPRITE+ network?
I have already benefited enormously from the coaching input from SPRITE+ Co-Director Stacey Conchie. Despite my long CV I am an early career researcher, so learning and practising the ‘Art of Research’ is an incredibly important activity.
Which of the SPRITE+ Challenge Themes can you relate to from the job that you do? How does it impact your role?
Digital Technologies and Change is the key theme to me. Taking a managed view of that change involves assessing and influencing the way in which we can manage that change for better outcomes.
Applications are open to individuals from academia and professional practice (non-academic) to attend an online sandpit on Digital Vulnerabilities in July 2021. Up to £160k of SPRITE+ funding will be made available to fund interdisciplinary projects.