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Security Panel – The Cybersecurity Show – S1Ep8

Security Panel – The Cybersecurity Show – S1Ep8

NAYOKA OWARE [00:00:31] Hello and welcome to security panel brought to you by celebrity. I’m Nayoka Oware, and today I’m joined by Alison Prangnell, a stress specialist from the Human Resilience Academy. Today, we’ll be discussing cyber security and stress. How are you, Alison?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:00:48] I’m. I’m great. I’m so unstressed today, It’s wonderful.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:00:52] So welcome, tell us a bit more about what you do, what your role is.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:00:56] Well, I work with both individuals and businesses specifically relating to stress. So for individuals, we all experience stress. We’re humans, we’re wired that way. And for some, it becomes overwhelming. So I work with them and do coaching for that. But I also worked with businesses doing workshops or work about work on business culture in terms of how they manage people, how they communicate, because then they can reduce the stress level with that. When you reduce the stress level, you reduce sickness, absence, everything else. So my my mission is to relieve people of stress, basically.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:01:34] That’s amazing because there are thousands of people with stress and some of them don’t even know the reasons why.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:01:39] No, they really don’t. And most so many people think, well, this is normality. That was what I believed because I’ve had burnout. This is how I came on this journey. And I just thought I was doing what everybody else was doing and trying to keep up with everyone else in work and the career, not realising until I hit that wall how bad things were because nobody told me what stress was. Nobody. Nobody talked about that. This is something that you can move past that you don’t have to feel this way. You don’t have to experience your day, day to day life in this way. Even if you’ve got a demanding job. So, yes, there’s a lot that people can do to have a better quality of life and work,.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:02:21] Of course. So what led you to create the Human Resilience Academy?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:02:26] Well, it’s a combination of I became a coach because I went through burnout and that was my my whole history. And so I’ve studied in an NLP hypnotherapy. I’ve been a senior manager in small to medium size organisations growing fast. And therefore, you got the pressure on resources and people needing to deliver. So I combined those two experiences together and I’ve worked a lot in technology and cybersecurity. So I’ve I’ve seen all of those those factors and talking to people working in cyber security. People will know that they’re stressed quite often, but don’t necessarily, they haven’t done anything about it as an organisation or they’re working so fast that, you know, that’s you know, it hasn’t been put on the agenda yet.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:03:14] Yeah. What is the issue with stress? Because it can stem from work. It could be a personal issue.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:03:20] Yes. Well, that’s the thing is we’re all humans. We are wired for stress. It is actually a survival mechanism. Stress isn’t actually a thing which a lot of people think it is. It is your response to your environment or things that are happening around you. So you could have a demanding job, as you say, and something in your personal life is making you stressed and vice versa. So it’s it really is learning about how to manage those things so that you gain resilience and what you need to react to and what you don’t. And a lot of people aren’t aware how much they’re being triggered. I couldn’t stress triggered, triggers how many stress triggers they have. And their just that adrenaline. Cortisol just keeps building and building and building.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:04:01] You speak about the importance we said earlier about the importance of how to respond to stress.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:04:06] Yes.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:04:07] Can you give me an example of the best way to respond?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:04:11] Well, everybody’s different, you know. So it really depends on what your stress trigger is. But a lot of the time, it’s another person triggering us, let’s let’s be fair, either at work or at home or an environment or it’s or it’s our workload. So take the workload as an example, because that’s very pertinent for cybersecurity sector, having recently done some work with one of the police forces in the U.K., they are under pressure in terms of resources, budget, manpower, a little bit like cyber security. They were constantly going. There’s too much on my desk, too much on my desk. What is your perception of that? Does that need to be overwhelming? You know, it’s about mindset and how you choose to respond to that level of work. You can’t change that level of work coming in, but you can change the way that you respond to it. And what you think about it. So that’s part of the work that I do in terms of what goes on inside that head of yours.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:05:11] What would you say the other contributing factors to heightened stress for cybersecurity workforce?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:05:16] Well, you know, cyber security, we all see it in the press and we’re talking to cybersecurity audience here. They don’t need to be told what pressures they were under from the constantly changing threat actors and they’re under a constant barrage. The bigger the the bigger and juicy the business, the more they’re under attack. So unlike other sectors or other departments in the organisation, if you’re a sales guy, you’re put under a bit of pressure to deliver to deliver your target, whereas cyber security teams are under pressure every single day. They don’t know when the next attacks going to hit. It’s kind of an instant room scenario when something does hit and they have to remediate. It’s a completely different environment. And then you’ve got at times lack of resources because there isn’t enough skill in the market. You’re constantly under pressure. And these people, you know, do one thing wrong and the business could be wide open. So they really do feel that pressure, neuro diverse teams, people working remotely. It’s a it’s a slightly different pot of factors than you find in other areas of the business.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:06:25] Okay, what would you say that employees and colleagues should be looking out for when it comes to stress at work?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:06:32] People who are becoming less engaged. It’s a massive thing. People hide when they’re under stress. They’ll probably say yes, yes, yes. And, you know, put a little shell around themselves to to keep going. Who isn’t talking, who’s not engaged, who’s hiding, who’s sickness levels are going up, as a department, do you have a high level of sickness or absence, unexplained absence? What are what are the figures on that? for you to benchmark, What is your churn? I mean, you’ve got the extra thing of, you know, recruiters are trying to poach your staff the whole time anyway, because it’s it’s a it’s a skills, you know market where skills are in so much in demand. However, is your team constantly churning? That’s a consideration because people don’t feel engaged. They don’t feel loyal. They don’t want to be there. There’s something underlying all of that. And it doesn’t have to be the fact that you’re constantly under pressure. It will be the business environment itself. How you deal with these pressures within the organization.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:07:36] Of course, I watched a documentary recently. And I heard that cancer patients were going through therapy. And, you know, they they met with coaches because they believe that that was the way that they could heal.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:07:48] Yeah.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:07:49] Because you mentioned sickness. And I thought that cancer could be one of those illnesses.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:07:53] Stress is a major contributor now. And is sighted in so many, so many surveys as a major contributor to illness, including cancer. And so, you know, a good few years ago, employers would probably be like, well, they’re stressed. They just have to deal with it. It’s their problem. It can’t be that way anymore. I’ve worked with lots of people and they become more resilient, but they’re being put back into the cauldron. What’s happening in the cauldron? How do you look after your people? Because the more you look after them, the more loyal they’ll be, the better, the less stressed. Better decision making skills, greater effectiveness.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:08:31] Of course, what can people do to manage their stress?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:08:36] They need to really, one, acknowledge that they feel stressed because a little bit like I said at the beginning, I kept pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing and I didn’t acknowledge it, didn’t really understand it. If you’re not feeling right. If you’re feeling ill a lot, if you’re feeling anxious. You’ve lost your sense of verve about everything that you’re doing. You need to kind of step back and go, what? What is going on? And to have the confidence to put your hand up. And say, do you know what? I’m stressed. I need to talk about this. Go to your manager. Talk about it. Create a culture where people can talk about it. Not kind of like. Right. We’re gonna get on with it here. You need to do something about it. And it could be, Nutrition, could be diet. It could be exercise, It could be the way that you approach it in your head. There are all sorts of factors where you can make small tweaks and suddenly your resilience and your experience and your health improves.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:09:39] Okay, that’s great to know, from your experience, would you say that many organisations are putting in extra resources to help those working in cybersecurity roles?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:09:50] It’s it’s really been something that’s been newly talked about a lot on a lot of levels. Crest have started talking about stress and they’re looking into that. But because cybersecurity as a sector has grown so fast, so organically and just exploded. Everybody’s been getting on with things. And I know that there are good organisations that are trying to look for solutions. But like any other sector in the market, not every organisation is doing all of the right things quite yet. Are they giving the staff the information they need? Is it being taken on board? Is it practical? Are they working on their management structure and how they manage? It’s about more than giving somebody a gym membership or talking about mindfulness. Mindfulness is immensely important, but it’s only one part of it. So there are moves towards it. There is more chatter. I’ve heard more chatter outside of cyber security than in cybersecurity about actively doing something about it. But I’ve talked to a lot of senior leaders and cyber security who are immensely aware of it.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:10:59] Do you think it’s more difficult for senior leaders in cybersecurity to talk about the fact that they’re stressed? In comparison to their employees,

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:11:10] I think it’s always difficult for any leader to do that. And also, if you’ve come up through in terms of you, if you consider the age of a lot of the senior leaders, they’ve grown up in a in a business environment where these things weren’t talked about. And again, you just got on with it. So I work one to one with a lot of senior leaders. For them personally, when they’ve realised that they need to do something about it. So is it difficult? It really depends on the person in the organisation, but they are immensely aware that they have to be on point.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:11:45] Awareness is the main thing.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:11:47] Yes.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:11:48] Do you have any closing advice for any viewers who may be working in cybersecurity roles and feeling stressed?

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:11:54] To talk about it and to find help, so depending on who you are and what your situation is, there is help that is available. You know, there are so many things that that can assist you to feel more resilience. But don’t be me. Don’t hit the wall if you’re not feeling great. You know, this is the reason why I’m here now, because so many people are running really, really fast towards the wall and they don’t know that that’s happening. Talk about it. Find help. Be the person who starts that, that culture and your business to talk about how stressed you’re. It’s okay to feel stress. We’re human, we’re built that way. So let’s talk about it. Make it a little bit more than, you know, a beer with friends and talking about things is a great thing to do, but it’s not gonna be your resolution for long term. So, yeah, talk about it, find people who can help. I can help on a one to one basis or, you know, there are people like me who can help you in that situation.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:12:52] Thank you so much for your time, Alison. It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking to you. Unfortunately, that’s all we have time for today.

ALISON PRANGNELL [00:12:59] Thank you for having me.

NAYOKA OWARE [00:13:00] You’re welcome. Thank you for watching. A security panel brought to you by celebrity. We hope that you’ve enjoyed this discussion just as much as we have. Do join us next time. Thank you.