My name is Matt Lemon. I am the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Huawei Mobile Services. Huawei is a global ICT company headquartered in Shenzhen, China and operates in over 170 countries worldwide. My job is to protect both customers and the company from cybersecurity attacks and making sure that the information on your phone stays safe. Outside of work, I am a keen runner and cyclist. I am an animal-lover and my labrador, cat, and two donkeys keep me very busy in my spare time.
I have always been a fan of Marvel, first the comics, and then the movies. Growing up reading the comics, my hero was Iron Man, so to see the tech from comics come to life on the big screen is pretty cool. Now if I could just make myself one of those suits…
Has your opinion of STEM changed since you were a teenager?
Absolutely, when I was in secondary school I always thought STEM was associated with subjects like engineering, metalwork and woodwork because those were the only subjects offered in my school. Now the offering in schools is so diverse, a lot different from back in my day!
In your opinion, what is the biggest myth about STEM careers?
That STEM careers aren’t interesting or that they’re too difficult. This couldn’t be further from the truth. STEM is an extremely diverse field, there’s something for everyone and this is where you will find the jobs of the future.
Do you believe that there is enough being done to encourage girls and minorities to study STEM and pursue STEM careers?
I think there is a lot more that could be done. When I am recruiting new team members, I find very few women apply for the roles. We need to show that STEM is suited to people of all backgrounds, irrespective of gender or ethnicity.
Describe an interesting day in your current position.
The great thing about my job is that I get to test out the new technology as it’s developed. When a new piece of tech arrives that we’ve been waiting for, it’s like Christmas morning! The unpacking and playing with it to see what it can do really brings out my inner child. The more blinking lights, the better! I get to see new tech sometimes months before it is even on the market which is pretty cool.
What do you love about your current role?
I love knowing that the work my teams does actually makes a difference to people’s safety and privacy. It allows them to get the best out of their technology without having to worry about security issues. Good security is paramount and should be transparent to users.
What has been the most surprising element of your job?
I am always surprised at how little people understand the ways that they can protect themselves online, and moreover, why they should care about it. While I may be an expert, everyone should have a basic knowledge of cybersecurity because whether you’re on your mobile at home or laptop in school, cybersecurity and online safety applies in all settings.
What has been your most exciting career moment to date?
There are two moments that stand out. The first was speaking to an audience of 20,000 people at a conference in Las Vegas. The second was standing in front of the US Senate, educating them on the hacking abilities of different countries. It’s hard to decide!
Do you get to work with any new technologies?
Yes, all the time. New mobile phones and new software that does amazing things. Working in a company with offices all over the world means that we are getting the best experience and best innovations to work with and test out. Oh, and did I mention robots with artificial intelligence!
Do you ever get to travel abroad for work?
Yes, my job involves a lot of travel to meet with colleagues all over the world and to attend conferences on cybersecurity. I’m also honoured to have been invited to address groups such as the US Navy, the FBI, the CIA, MI6, and other cool organisations.
What kind of other experts do you work with on a day to day basis?
As security affects the whole company, I work with experts across the business: HR, Legal, Privacy, Finance, Engineering and more. My department interacts with all teams.
Is your current job, and the work of the wider team, making a difference in the world?
Yes, 5G has the potential to positively change the way in which we live our lives. It means the “Internet of Things”, or smart devices at home will work better, be able to respond quicker, and help us in our daily lives. It also means autonomous driving will also become a reality, something I look forward to as I drive a Tesla!
What do you hope to achieve in the next year in your current position?
My focus is to continually improve the level of security and privacy that we provide to our customers. That will never change.
Do you feel that you fit the stereotypical description of a person in your role?
In a way, yes. I would say I’m a gadget person – I like to have the latest and greatest of whatever the current gadget is. I like to tinker and play with things to see what they can do and how I can improve them. After all Iron Man was one of my heroes!
If a young person told you that they would like to get into your role, what advice would you give them?
I would tell them that it is a great industry to be in. Globally, we are about 2 million people short of what is required, so there will be jobs for those who are qualified. There are great employment opportunities in Ireland with five of the world’s top security software companies operating here and colleges like Technical University Dublin offering courses in the space. If possible, try and get some work experience to make sure it’s what you expect. The role itself is so diverse and at times can be challenging but it can be extremely rewarding.
Did you complete any sort of placement or internship during your studies? If so, did it prepare you for what you do now?
Yes, but it wasn’t related to what I do now. I worked in a bank, and in an optician.
Do you feel secure in the fact that you can earn a living from a career in Stem?
Completely. Luckily, or unluckily, there is a shortage of skilled people and recruiting new people is quite difficult. It’s an ever-growing industry so I feel very secure in my career. There are so many opportunities out there if you hold a STEM qualification and I would recommend pursuing a college course that has some element of science, technology, engineering or maths.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
To retire on a yacht sailing the Mediterranean… with a robot at the helm of course!
What television series are you currently watching?
I’m watching Friends (for the fourth time, I think). I like to think that I’m a Chandler, but I’m probably more like Ross, he is a scientist after all.
What living person do you most admire, and why?
Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He’s a British explorer and ex-member of the SAS. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, in 1984 he was the world’s greatest living explorer. I love to travel, and so he serves as an inspiration for me.