Alison McAlroy

Alison McAlroy | HSBC

Alison McAlroy

I was an area manager in Retail Banking for over 20 years and when the crash happened I lost my job 8 times in 7 years.

I decided a change of career as needed. I applied for a role in a Third Party Assurance Team, which was in an Operational Risk Department. I was lucky to be offered the role, and readily accepted. I didn't have a clue what InfoSec/cyber was really about. My colleagues were very supportive. The other members of the team were advised that they needed to study the CISM qualification. I was tasked with arranging this and ordering all the material for them. Naturally I assumed I was to be included, and I ordered myself the material. However, I was informed by my line manager that he felt this was going to be to much for me and I was not to do it. I did appeal and he relented. I was determined I would pass. I started searching on line for any support from ISACA and there was a study evening being held in Edinburgh. I was the only one from our team to go and I was so nervous I had to get my husband to drive me and wait on me! I went and that was the start of my amazing journey. I met the President and Vice President who helped me. I sat the exam and passed. When passed the asked me to join the committee which I did. I then volunteered to be part of a working group of 6 to go to ISACA HQ in Chicago to set the pass mark for the CISM exam the next year. I couldn't believe I was selected from all the applicants throughout he world. So off I went. It was fantastic. I volunteered again and was selected to be part of a Chapter Services Working Group which was to deliver improvements for all the Global Chapters. There were 12 of us selected from the Global applicants. It covered lots initiatives. It was an engagement for 12 months. I then had to take our work and present it at the European Leadership Summit in Munich. I couldn't believe that from being so nervous before the study evening - I was actually in front of all these people delivering a presentation. I then hosted event for ISACA Scotland and became very involved in the community. I was in October 2018 elected the President of ISACA Scotland, to my great delight.

I moved from my role in Third Party Assurance, as the Vice President was working as a contractor in a bank and he said to me that there was a role available in one of the Technology Teams, and he encouraged me to apply - I did, and that's when I really got my first big break into a proper techy role. I have been encouraged and supported throughout my journey - and it has been an absolute pleasure. I was involved in the ISACA European Leadership conference this year in Venice, and I am off to Geneva in October, where I will be taking an interactive role again. Thanks for reading my journey - and I hope if anyone is thinking about a career into Tech/Cyber/InfoSec Risk, they are brave and jump - they people who work in this industry are the net - they will catch you - I will catch you!!


Alison Choy

Alison Choy | Starling Bank

Alison Choy

I didn’t mean to get into software engineering.

I started out as a chemist and did a PhD in cheminformatics, applying machine learning and data mining techniques to predict drug absorption and metabolism. As part of my PhD I had to learn programming, so I taught myself how to code by watching YouTube videos. I enjoyed creating software so much that I created an application based on the scientific methodologies that I developed for my PhD. The software enabled a user to investigate the stability of specific drug candidate structures. If undesirable properties were detected, the application suggested strategies to improve the drug candidate’s profile.

Programming turned out to be what I enjoyed the most, there was no question if I was going to pursue a career in software engineering. I worked as a software engineer for Alfa, a financial technology company operating in the asset finance market. I was instrumental in transforming Alfa's culture from that of a management consultancy to that of a tech company by organising their first two company hackathons. Alfa’s CEO described it as the best conference in the organisation’s 25 year history. This set in motion a chain of innovation projects that have been sustained even after I left the company.

I moved from Alfa to Starling Bank in 2018. My role initially consisted of integrating the bank’s backend application with other financial services providers to offer customers the ability to transfer their data securely from one to the other. I have since moved into a data science / data engineering role within Starling, where I am responsible for gathering and fulfilling the organisation’s data requirements from compliance and regulatory reports to financial reconciliations and investor documents. I am implementing a data warehouse so business users can obtain the data they require and carry out their own data visualisation without any technical knowledge. Now as Starling’s head of machine learning, I am working to improve upon the organisation’s data foundation, to accelerate data driven decisions and work towards using AI to improve our customer’s experience and their financial lives.


Alice McCullagh

Alice McCullagh | Dyson

Alice McCullagh

Alice McCullagh entered the technology industry at Dyson four years ago, before that she was creating market strategies, in Germany, with brands Spin Master and Disney.

She’s been across three continents with Dyson, shaping the company’s world-class commercial and retail go-to-market strategy. This included a game-changing APAC launch of Dyson’s first ever beauty technology product: the Dyson Supersonic™ hairdryer. Training Stylists across Asia on Dysons advanced technology; Dyson’s V9 Digital Motor, Air Multiplier Technology and Intelligent Heat Control. She has designed marketing strategies for air purification technologies across Europe and led the launch of Dyson’s Global Flagship Demo store in Dubai. Now focusing on bringing engineering to cities in UK; building a better and authentic understanding of our increasingly urban populations; facilitating and educating Dyson’s passion for engineering with city dwellers.


Ali Reed

Ali Reed | RBS

Ali Reed

I joined RBS on the Operations Management Graduate scheme in 2005 and did a series of rotations including helping customers in debt, Sales Management, and Project Management.

I then became a Design Manager where I designed different solutions including a new bank wide customer messaging system, and I introduced several customer journey and process enhancements across many subjects which enabled me to build up my knowledge of technology across the bank. I also ran a global 'Voice of the Customer' working group which delivered customer best practice tips to staff across the world. I then became an Architect and was responsible for defining target architectures and roadmaps for multiple bank-wide Programmes and Franchises, and helped to define different architecture and design methodologies for use across the Architecture teams. Most recently I have been responsible for enabling more reuse across the bank through the development of reusable services and APIs; leading the design work for the complex bank-wide Open Banking Programme; and defining the target API architecture for the bank.


Ahsana Nabilah Choudhury

Ahsana Nabilah Choudhury | J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Ahsana Nabilah Choudhury

My taste of the technology world began during my teenage years, particularly the summer of 2010.

I loved literature, whether that was reading stories written by people across the globe on LiveJournal or publishing my own posts on Wordpress. I loved the way one could connect with the power of words. When I was sixteen years old, I eventually moved to a blogging site called Tumblr. I was mesmerised by the creative freedom it provided its users and spent that summer teaching myself web design and how to code. I loved the strong balance of analytics and creativity it had, so I continued.

I immersed myself in whatever resources I could find, I primped my online space to the latest standards, and I showcased my creations to my friends for feedback. Eventually, I soon had a decision to make: what am I going to study at University? With many of my peers preparing to enter the lavish lair of Law, I chose Computing. It was creative, it was fun, it was what I grew up in. Ultimately, it felt like me. I graduated in 2017 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Computing from the University of Portsmouth, was the School of Computing Prize Winner for the Best Business Solutions Project out of the 200+ student body, and already had two years of industrial experience with BAE Systems whilst studying for my degree. Following graduation, I returned to BAE Systems to begin my full-time role as a Junior Business Solutions Developer and produced numerous business intelligence reporting applications. I then progressed to my current position at JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a Software Engineer and deliver end-to-end solutions looking after the global financial infrastructure.