From snooker to cyber

Have-a-go Bridewell co-CEO Scott Nicholson does not shy away from seizing challenges and opportunities of various kinds, so it’s no surprise that the dynamic field of cyber security appealed to his sense of adventure.

Comms Dealer has not produced many paragraphs with more twists and turns than the one you are about to read: As a sporty kid who didn’t enjoy school Nicholson pocketed few GCSEs but went on to become a professional snooker player after being Welsh amateur champion. However, subsequent stints working in various warehouses and building sites became the order of the day before Nicholson took his first steps into IT through a basic computer course, prior to joining Gwent Police where he served for 10 years. “I got into criminal intelligence and information sharing between police forces, especially after failings on the Soham murders,” stated Nicholson. “So I started building my qualifications and experience in information management, cyber security and data protection, eventually becoming Head of Data Management.”

You don’t need to be gifted with great insight to realise that Nicholson will give almost any challenge a go and see where it takes him. With a better voice, for example, he could have been making waves not in cyber security but in a recording studio. “I was once a contestant on the X-Factor,” he revealed. “I’d never sung in public before and there I was in front of about four and a half thousand people at the Principality Stadium. I didn’t get through the judges round but it was a great experience and I’m glad I did it.”

Cutting back to his law enforcement days... Nicholson had achieved a Masters in Business Administration then left the police to take up several senior cyber security roles including a spell at IBM. He then established a company that ultimately merged into Bridewell in 2015. “In many ways, personal experiences have prepared me for my current role more than my work experience,” added Nicholson. “My sporting background has helped me challenge myself, build a big network and navigate all sorts of social situations. I am naturally good with people and I use this skill every day heading up the team at Bridewell.”

In many ways, personal experiences have prepared me for my current role more than my work experience

Supporting critical national infrastructure and finance is at the core of Bridewell’s strategy, and its market approach is constantly informed by the evolving cyber threat and regulatory landscape that the sector faces. “Our portfolio has developed strongly due to our deep understanding of client pain points, from both the operational and consultancy sides,” he said. “Bridewell’s services can be combined and customised at every level to meet specific customer needs, which our clients love as it targets common issues like recruitment headaches and employee churn.”

Bridewell has also developed a strategic partnership with Microsoft, enabling it to support many organisations in transitioning from multiple suppliers and products to one unified approach. “Another strand to the strategy is growing our existing service lines, primarily 24/7 managed detection and response,” added Nicholson. “We’re also developing the next generation of cyber talent through the Bridewell academy and our educational partnerships. This initiative is important to me and I’m excited to see where we can take it in the next few years.”

Another important strand in Bridewell’s growth strategy is global expansion. The company has already opened its first US office and is looking to establish itself further with acquisitions across North America. “A lot of global critical infrastructure is under invested from a cyber security perspective, particularly regarding skills, so there’s a growing need for the services Bridewell provides,” said Nicholson. “Part of our plan over the next five years is to expand where there is a great need, and moving into Asia is key to this strategy.”

He also aims to maximise on advances in automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. “When things like ChatGPT emerge we always look at potential use cases and ask ourselves whether it can add value and efficiency to what we do,” added Nicholson. “Securing operational technology for industrial control systems is another area we’re focused on. Bridewell is already a leader for cyber security in this space, but we’ve recently invested further by recruiting our first ever Head of OT.”

While Bridewell started out as a cyber security consulting company it was always Nicholson’s goal to provide organisations with 24/7 threat detection and response. But his readiness to give things a go meant, perhaps, that wearing many hats at the same time is not always the best way to go. “In hindsight I would have invested earlier in non revenue generating roles,” stated Nicholson. “It’s tempting to try and be a jack of all trades and shoulder CFO and Head of Operations responsibilities yourself to make a profit. But having people in these roles at Bridewell now, and seeing the value they provide, I realise I could’ve saved myself a lot of pain sooner.”


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