Happy 72nd Birthday to the NHS

Happy 72nd Birthday to the NHS

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday NHS….
Happy birthday to you.

Today marks the 72nd birthday of the NHS, and there is a final #ClapForCarers event taking place at 5pm tonight to mark the occasion. I don’t think I have ever been so grateful for the NHS and what they are doing to keep everyone who contracts coronavirus safe and alive, while also attending to those with other illnesses and conditions. Everyone who works in the NHS, no matter what their role is, is a hero to me.

I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to access healthcare at source whenever I need it, and to book a GP appointment if I need one without having to pay. You could argue that we pay for it through our NHS contributions of course, but that is a small price to pay to be able to see a doctor more or less on demand and to have access to specialists, nurses and doctors when we need them. The NHS should be treasured, because I fear for a day that it becomes a privatised institution.

I’ve had my share of help and support from the NHS over the years – so have my family – and I can’t thank them all enough. We’ve all heard horror stories, and the system isn’t by any means perfect, but we are so lucky to have access to it. In 2013 I had incredible support when I was pregnant with my unborn son Francesco “Frankie” Enrico Ventura. When a severe cleft lip and palate was picked up in him during my 5 month scan I was referred within 3 days from the Worcestershire Royal Hospital to the Foetal Medicine Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham under obstetrician Professor Mark Kilby. When other problems were detected with him, I was supported every step of the way as I prepared to be a full-time Mum to a son who would need 24-hour round the clock care and support.

When my son was stillborn on 29 November 2013 the care and support I received at the Worcestershire Royal  Hospital was second to none, especially from the hospital Chaplain Rev’d David Southall who went on to become a good friend to myself and my family. I had genetic testing and so did my husband and family at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham when they found after my son was stillborn that he had a very rare chromosome duplication on his chromosome 15, and I know that would not have been cheap. I’m very grateful to the NHS for that and for their support.

With my son Francesco “Frankie” Enrico Ventura and my good friend Rev’s David Southall, Chaplain at the Worcesershire Royal Hospital. Rev’d Southall is baptising my son.

Today I am even more grateful to them for finally getting to the bottom of what was wrong with my Dad and diagnosing him with CASPR2 antibody encephalitis, which is extremely rare and only 45-50 people globally have been diagnosed with this particular kind of encephalitis, which is autoimmune. My Dad has had brilliant support from Dr Tom Heafield, his neurologist at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Professor Sarosh Irani and his team at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford who my Dad is now under due to the rarity of his autoimmune condition.

In addition to this my Dad is of huge interest to Dr Saiju Jacob, consultant neurologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and to Dr Mike Zandi, consultant neurologist at the Queens Hospital in London.  The only small gripe I have with my Dad’s illness and condition is that it took the NHS nearly 3 years to get to the bottom of it – my Dad was very close to being diagnosed with motor neurone disease with associated dementia – and he didn’t have either condition. But they got there in the end, and for that I am extremely grateful.

With my Dad when he was in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in March 2020, just prior to lockdown, getting treated for his CASPR2 antibody encephalitis under Professor Sarosh Irani.

I can’t even begin to imagine what every single NHS worker is going through right now with the coronavirus outbreak and pandemic, I am in awe of each and every one of them for what they do for us. They deserve our most lavish praise and most outstanding ovations (as the quote goes in the film “The Greatest Showman”). How they cope day after day, night after night is incredible.

If my Dad was living in the USA, even if he had the best health insurance policy that money could by over there, he would NOT be covered for CASPR2 antibody encephalitis. Autoimmune conditions are excluded from health insurance policies in the States and he would have to thousands and thousands of dollars for his treatment despite having insurance.  This brings it home even more as to how lucky we are to have access to healthcare when we need it.

Of course, if we have the money or insurance policies we can bypass the NHS and pay to have certain treatments and operations privately – but the majority of us are not so lucky – and this is only going to get worse as the pandemic grows, job losses occur and people lose their businesses and livelihoods. We MUST treasure our NHS with everything we have got. If I had the power to grant every specialist, professor, doctor, nurse, healthcare professional and person who works for the NHS a pay rise I would do so in a heartbeat. It is scandalous that they are paid so little for everything they do for us.

So happy birthday NHS, and THANK YOU for everything you do for us, especially during these unprecedented times with the coronavirus pandemic spreading like wildfire all over the world. I treasure you all more than you will ever know. On a person note, thank you for all the help, support, treatment and care I and my family have received from you. You all have my deepest and utmost respect for what you do.

Lisa Ventura Named as one of the “Most Influential Women in UK Tech by Computer Weekly Magazine

Lisa Ventura Named as one of the “Most Influential Women in UK Tech by Computer Weekly Magazine

Lisa Ventura is proud to announce that she has been named as one of the “Most Influential Women in UK Tech” in Computer Weekly for 2020.

When Computer Weekly launched its list of influential women in UK IT in 2012, it only featured 25 women. It was later expanded to include 50 women to ensure as many as possible are recognised each year.

Each year, they aim to ensure the nominations for the 50 Most Influential Women in UK Technology are as diverse and inclusive as possible, regardless of age, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation, including trans women and those who identify as non-binary.

Readers will be to vote on who they think should be chosen as the Most Influential Woman in UK Technology 2020 to help the judges make their final decision – but they also wanted to reveal all of the nominees who were considered.

For more information about Computer Weekly’s “Most Influential Women in UK Tech” long list please visit https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252485588/Most-Influential-Women-in-UK-Tech-The-2020-longlist

Lisa Ventura Nominated in Computing Magazine’s 2020 Women in Tech Excellence Awards

Lisa Ventura Nominated in Computing Magazine’s 2020 Women in Tech Excellence Awards

Lisa Ventura is proud to announce that she has been nominated in the 2020 Computing Magazine’s Women in Tech Excellence awards in the “Positive Role Model” and “Woman of the Year” categories for her work supporting women in cyber security and in neurodiversity.

The winners of the awards will be announced on Wednesday 25 November 2020 at The Brewery in London.

Computing Magazine’s Women in Tech Excellence awards is a prestigious event which exists to recognise top-performing women from across the technology space and provide inspiration for younger women looking to build a career in the tech industry. They are designed to help the industry by recognising and promoting the many talented females, and other success stories. There are places in IT for females, and this industry can lead to rewarding, fulfilling careers for everyone.

For more information about the awards please visit https://womenintechexcellence.co.uk/womenintechexcellenceawards2020/en/page/home

My Warning to Businesses as Scam Emails Increase

My Warning to Businesses as Scam Emails Increase

Recently I took part in an online chat with IsoNation giving a warning to businesses about the rise of scam and phishing emails and some advice about what businesses can do to help protect themselves against this. I was chuffed to bits that my advice was featured in my local paper the Worcester News this week

It is SO easy for someone to be taken in by a scam email, as phishing attempts are getting more and more sophisticated, especially around COVID19. Cyber criminals’ prey on our insecurities and fears and know how to press our “buttons” to get us to click on something we shouldn’t. I’ve heard about TONS of businesses who have been taken in by scam emails and lots thousands of pounds as a result.

My work is all around cyber security awareness and education about the growing cyber threat. In my industry it is said that people are the biggest weakness, but they can also be the greatest strength against combatting cyber-crime and online fraud. Education around this is key.

If in doubt, do NOT click on a suspect email and feel free to email me via hello@lisaventura.co.uk, I’ll always try to help.

Be safe, be sure…and be secure – don’t get caught out by scammers.

A Reflection of the Past Year Since Winning the “Outstanding Contribution” Award from SC Awards Europe & a Note to This Year’s Finalists

A Reflection of the Past Year Since Winning the “Outstanding Contribution” Award from SC Awards Europe & a Note to This Year’s Finalists

Next week the SC Awards Europe takes place, although this year it moves to a virtual platform. The awards will be streamed live on their website https://www.scawardseurope.com/ over 3 days online due to the coronavirus outbreak. Last year I was extremely humbled, honoured and proud to win the “Outstanding Contribution” award, and I couldn’t be there in person to collect my award, something I will always regret.

I couldn’t believe that I had been nominated, let alone find out I was a finalist in my category. I was up against some HUGE names in the cyber security industry such as Ian Glover from CREST and Dr Kevin Jones rom Airbus; I considered all the finalists to be far more worthy winners of my category.  To win the award was incredibly surreal for me and it still feels like a dream today.

This Time Last Year….

The awards ceremony takes place during the same week as Infosec, and with my father being in very ill health at the time I didn’t think I would be able to attend Infosec, let alone attend the awards ceremony. An operation that my father was scheduled to have that same week was cancelled, so at the very last minute I threw some things into a bag, contacted a friend I have in East London to ask if I could stay overnight with her and attended Infosec for 2 days. I thought that the awards ceremony would be sold out or full, so I decided not to attend even though I made it to Infosec at very short notice.

The first day at Infosec was brilliant, I was able to arrange some long overdue meetings with contacts such as Chris Windley and Tim Moran (who gave a great talk in the New Cyber Zone) from Lujam Cyber, Andy Laver from Proficio (although he has moved on from Proficio now), Steve Hood from NTE, Simon Wardle from bluesource and Andrew Lawton from FortressAS amongst others. I was able to network and visit a lot of old friends and contacts in the exhibitor zone and I was so pleased I had made it to Infosec after all.

On the night of the awards ceremony I was at my friends house and was just heading to bed when my husband texted me and said, in true Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses style: “You’ve only gone and done it!” He was following the award announcements on Twitter and saw that I had won the “Outstanding Contribution” award. I couldn’t believe it, and I wasn’t even at the awards ceremony – I was gutted!

The next day at Infosec was a huge blur, so many people came up to me to congratulate me, many I didn’t even know. I attended the “Women in Security” event where I saw the inspirational Professor Sue Black talk about her work and achievements, and women in there came up to me and said I had given them hope and was a huge inspiration.

I collected my award from the SC Magazine offices in Twickenham a few weeks later and got to meet the Editor Toby Morbin, it still felt very surreal, but it was true – I had won the award! It is now one of my most treasured things and has pride of place in my office where I can always see it to remind myself of how far I had come in a short time in the cyber security industry.

This Time This Year…..

Since winning the SC Awards Europe “Outstanding Contribution” award I went on to win “Cyber Security Personality of the Year” from the Cyber Security Awards, “Supporter of Women in Cyber Security” from the Women in Cyber Awards in the USA, and I was named as one of WeAreTechWomen’s 100 inspiring women in tech. I was also named as one of SC Magazine’s “50 Women of Influence” in November 2019, but yet again I couldn’t go to the gathering as my father was very ill at the time and I couldn’t leave him.

I had SUCH great plans this year and was going to do so much. I had been booked to speak at various conferences and events including the Cloud and Cyber Expo, Think Partners Cyber Security for Government Event, and the Identity Management Summit amongst others. They have all been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. I also planned to attend Infosec again this year, but this has also been cancelled. It looks like all events, conferences and networking events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future – and rightly so.

I have been busier this year than ever because of winning the “Outstanding Contribution” award.  My work with the UK Cyber Security Association keeps me very busy indeed, I’ve been approached to write numerous articles and blogs which I’ve had published, my book “The Rise of the Cyber Women: Volume 1” is due for release on Amazon Direct Publishing in mid-June 2020 and I’ve had cyber security awareness consultancy work coming out of my ears.

The coronavirus outbreak has not stopped me from achieving any of my goals, nor has my work in cyber security been affected. Instead of speaking at face to face events I have taken part in numerous online events, conferences, webinars, and meetings using Zoom, Teams, and other video conferencing platforms. My father has also improved considerably with his health since I won the award last year, which means I can dedicate much more of my time to my work in the industry and achieving my goals.

Winning the “Outstanding Contribution” award has meant the world to me and is a huge achievement. I hope I can go on to achieve even more in the cyber security industry in the coming years – coronavirus or not!

To all The Finalists in all the Categories for 2020

I want to send everyone who is a finalist in all categories in this year’s SC Awards Europe the very best of luck, and congratulations for getting this far – it is a huge endorsement of your achievements, work and the services that your organisation provides for the cyber security industry. You are ALL winners in my eyes and I’m very proud that you are all finalists.

I know the event isn’t what we are all used to with it taking place virtually due to the coronavirus outbreak, but I will be logging onto the live stream Tuesday to Thursday next week to share, retweet and extend my congratulations to all the winners.

If you do win – enjoy it. Leverage it. Be proud of what the award represents and of your achievements. I am very proud of my 2019 “Outstanding Contribution” award, even if my impostor syndrome sometimes gets in the way and tries to tell me otherwise.

To watch the awards and see the live stream at 4pm on Tuesday 2 June, Wednesday 3 June and Thursday 4 June visit https://www.scawardseurope.com/. Also follow SC Magazine on Twitter – https://twitter.com/SCmagazineUK – for announcements of the winners.

Until next week,

Lisa Ventura
CEO & Founder: UK Cyber Security Association
Winner of SC Awards Europe “Outstanding Contribution” Category 2019