Keele alumna “honoured” to return to campus to collect honorary degree
A Keele University alumna has said she is excited and honoured to return to her former campus to accept an honorary degree.
Dr Emma Philpott MBE received the title of Doctor of Science at this week’s graduation ceremonies, marking her outstanding contribution to the cyber security industry.
Dr Philpott studied for a PhD in Material Science at Keele in the 1990s, and said it was lovely to return to campus for the first time in over 25 years, and to see how much the University has changed and developed in that time.
Dr Philpott said: “It’s lovely to come back, but also very strange seeing everything here that is new. I’m very proud of Keele, and the way it has gone from strength to strength. There’s so much new activity here, it’s brilliant and it’s a lovely university.”
Dr Philpott is CEO of the IASME Consortium Ltd, a company which focuses on information assurance for small companies and the supply chain. IASME worked with the UK government to develop the Cyber Essentials scheme, and was awarded the contract to be the sole National Cyber Security Centre Cyber Essentials Partner from April 2020.
She is also the Founder and Manager of the UK Cyber Security Forum, a not-for-profit organisation leading an initiative to train unemployed neuro-diverse adults in cyber security and supporting them to find employment.
Dr Philpott said that helping neuro-diverse adults in finding employment was a calling she was particularly proud of. Through one of her family being diagnosed with autism, she met lots of autistic people and found that many couldn’t find jobs despite being very intelligent.
This, she said, was because of artificial social barriers, but she added that many neuro-diverse people are better at cyber-security work than neuro-typical people, which combined with a skills gap in cyber security created a “perfect storm” which led to her work to support these adults.
She said: “If only we can do away with the artificial social rules within organisations, then we can employ all these unemployed, wonderful people who want a job, so that’s what we focus on and it’s really, really wonderful.”
She also acknowledged that her own career path had diverted from her original course subject, but encouraged this week’s graduates to open themselves up to similarly branching paths, especially those which might be different from their original expectations.
She added: “Life is not linear, you get a degree and it doesn’t mean that you have to stick to that, it does not mean you are penned in – you can do anything. As long as people can have an open mind, they can do anything, and they should seize their moment and seize the day, and feel that they can take different paths.”
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