Meet the Team

Leadership Team

Headshot of Rob
Headshot of Rob
Robert Black

Director

Lecturer, Cranfield University

In addition to his role as Director of the UK Cyber 9 / 12 Strategy Challenge, Rob is a Lecturer in Information Activities at Cranfield University at the UK Defence Academy. He teaches on the UK Ministry of Defence’s Cyberspace Operations MSc and supports the UK’s Defence Cyber School educating senior MoD Leaders about Warfare in the Information Age. His research topics include Cyber Deception, Information Warfare & Covert Action. Rob has extensive experience working with cyber practitioners in the planning and delivery of cyber operations. Prior to joining Cranfield, he worked in the field of Influence and Information Operations for the UK MoD since 2003.

Headshot of Safa
Headshot of Safa
Safa Shahwan Edwards

Deputy Director, Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Scowcroft Center for Strategy & Security, Atlantic Council

Safa Shahwan Edwards is the Associate Director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. In this role, she manages the administration and external communications of the Initiative, as well as the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, the Initiative’s global cyber policy and strategy competition. Safa holds an MA in International Affairs with a concentration in Conflict Resolution from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and a BA in Political Science from Miami University of Ohio. Safa is of Bolivian and Jordanian heritage and speaks Spanish and Arabic.

Headshot of Pete
Headshot of Pete
Pete Cooper

Founder of the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Government Cyber Defence Team, Cabinet Office

Pete Cooper works at the forefront of critical cyber security challenges. This has included global cyber security strategies, advising the ICRC on minimising risk to civilians during cyber conflict to supporting the World Economic Forum and more. His industry work includes advising on cyber security strategy, risk, innovation, active cyber defence, culture and skills.

He currently leads the cross Government Cyber Defence team in the Cabinet Office with a remit covering the Government Cyber Security Strategy, standards, assurance, cyber red teaming and serious incident / vulnerability management.

Prior to this, he was an RAF fast jet pilot, one of the first military cyber operations officers and the first Strategic Cyber Operations adviser to the UK MOD and government. Additionally, he founded the Aerospace Village at DEFCON and Cyber 9/12 UK. He holds a Post Grad in Cyberspace Operations, is a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Atlantic Council and a visiting Senior Research Fellow of Kings College London.

Alexander Beatty

Program Assistant, Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Digital Forensic Research Lab, Atlantic Council

Alexander Beatty is a program assistant with the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative under the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab). In this role, he primarily supports the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. Alexander is interested in how governments can partner with the aviation sector to advance diplomatic and cyber interests around the globe.

Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, Alexander worked as an education program manager at the United Nations Association of Greater Boston. Alexander holds an MA in international affairs, specializing in diplomacy from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. He attained his BA in international relations from Dublin City University, with a special focus on secessionist movements.

Stewart Scott

Assistant Director, Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Digital Forensic Research Lab, Atlantic Council

Stewart Scott is an assistant director with the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative under the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab). He works on the Initiative’s systems security portfolio, which focuses on software supply chain risk management and open source software security policy.

Stewart earned his B.A. from Princeton University at the School of Public and International Affairs along with a minor in Computer Science. His course of study centered on misinformation, social media policy, online extremism, journalism, and American political and economic history. He joined the Atlantic Council after interning with its Cyber Statecraft Initiative.

Scenario Team

Headshot of Danny
Headshot of Danny
Dr Danny Steed

Head of Scenario Team

Lecturer, Cranfield University

Danny Steed is Lecturer in Cyber Security at Cranfield University. A lecturer, author, public speaker and consultant, Danny's experience covers the creation and delivery of numerous courses specialising in national security strategy to student, professional, and military cadres.

Danny also has experience of government service in operational cyber security as well as private industry consultancy.

His second book, The Politics and Technology of Cyberspace, was published by Routledge in 2019.

Headshot of Boris
Headshot of Boris
Boris Taratine

Head of Competencies & Skills

Cybersecurity advisor & architect

BBoris Taratine is a passionate visionary and an influential ambassador of cybersecurity and cyber defence. Through decades of his career, he held many senior technical and leadership roles across different industries. He has been working with renowned companies across the Globe, was engaged in consulting with numerous organizations. Being a trusted adviser to the C-suite, he has helped global businesses understand the importance of cyber disciplines and take proactive actions for improvements. He actively promotes industry collaboration, participates in various industry forums, and is a frequent speaker at various industry events to influence global cybersecurity development.

Boris is the highest honour graduate at the Saint-Petersburg State University. During his Ph.D. studies, he co-authored a number of publications and patents granted under the NATO HiTech project; further has many publications and dozens of patents granted and pending. He is willing to share all the knowledge with anyone who wants to learn – this can be you.

Headshot of Alex
Headshot of Alex
Alex Blinda

Scenario Team

Detection & Response Senior Analyst, PwC

Alex Blinda is a Senior Analyst in the Cyber Threat Detection and Response team with PwC UK and a two-time previous competitor in the UK Cyber 9/12 strategy competition. Alex is passionate about the defence side of cybersecurity, including threat hunting, incident response and digital forensics.

Alex graduated with a BSc in Computer Science and an MSc in Cyber Security from the University of Birmingham. He had worked for various companies in both software development and cybersecurity consultancy roles. Due to the great experience he had in the UK Cyber 9/12 competition as a participant and organiser, Alex jumped at the opportunity to help the Cyber 9/12 team in organising the 2022 edition.

Headshot of Sofia
Headshot of Sofia
Sofia Liemann Escobar

Scenario Team

PhD Researcher, Royal Holloway University

Sofia Liemann Escobar is a PhD researcher at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security at Royal Holloway University of London. Her interests rest at the intersection of strategy, geopolitics, and cyber security. Prior to this, Sofia completed a Master’s degree in International Security at Sciences Po in Paris, and an undergraduate degree in War studies at King’s College London.

Sofia was a member of the winning team of the 2020 edition of the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. Having thoroughly enjoyed the experience, she has been keen to help out in the following editions of the competition.

Sophie Powell

Scenario Team & Student Co-Ordination

Graduate Cyber Security Consultant at CyberFort Group; Co-Founder & Director of CyberWomen Groups C.I.C

Sophie Powell is a Graduate from the University of Warwick in Cyber Security and is currently working with CyberFort Group in a rotational role. Her interests lie with OSINT techniques and its effects on individuals and businesses, which was the speciality of her dissertation on her undergraduate degree. She is also the Co-Founder and Director of CyberWomen Groups C.I.C, which is a community built to inspire learning, networking, and positive change towards diversity in STEM subjects.

Sophie competed in the Cyber 9/12 challenge as part of WickedCyber from 2020-2023, and thoroughly enjoyed her time. Therefore, she is keen to return and be a part of the team for the upcoming editions.

Sophie Powell headshot
Sophie Powell headshot
Jenny headshot
Jenny headshot
Jenny McCullagh

Scenario Team & Student Engagement

Graduate Cyber Security Engineer; Co-Founder & Director of CyberWomen Groups C.I.C.

Jenny McCullagh is a Cyber Security Graduate from the University of Warwick and is currently working as a graduate cyber security engineer. Her interests lie within incident response and policies within cyber security. She is also the Co-Founder and Director of CyberWomen Groups C.I.C., a community-based organisation which aims to inspire positive change in STEM subjects.

Jenny competed in the Cyber 9/12 challenge as part of WickedCyber from 2020-2023, and thoroughly enjoyed her experience. Therefore, she is excited to return and be a part of the team for the future competitions.

Event Organisers & Comms Team

Ben Wainwright headshot
Ben Wainwright headshot
Ben Wainwright

Marketing & Comms Lead

Co-Founder, Remap Mental Fitness

Ben Wainwright is a 2021 Masters graduate in Computer Science with Innovation. He is a previous competitor in UK Cyber 9/12, with his team finishing third in the 2021 competition. He is passionate about combining his background in technology and human-centred design within the cyber security realm.

Ben is also the co-founder of Remap Mental Fitness, teaching teams & individuals how to train their mind to think, feel & perform like the top 1%. He brings his varied experience to the UK Cyber 9/12 team, primarily focusing on marketing and student engagement.

Headshot of Alan
Headshot of Alan
Alan Ross (AMBCS)

Digital Operations

Junior Security Manager, Capgemini

Alan is a previous competitor in the UK Cyber 9/12 strategy challenge and joined as a volunteer overseeing the website.

Most recently Alan was one of two technical leads for the UK Cyber 9/12 challenge for it's 2021 first ever virtual event. For this voluntary work, he received a Vice Chancellor's Commendation for Excellence from the University of Portsmouth.

Headshot of Niklas
Headshot of Niklas
Niklas Henderson

Judge Co-ordination

PhD Student, University of East Anglia

After completing his undergraduate in Computer Science at the University of East Anglia in 2019, Niklas began his transition into cyber security by competing in both the Cyber 9/12 UK Strategy Challenge, and the Cyber Crime Cup™ Competition. This was swiftly followed by a postgraduate degree in Cyber Security.

Since then, Niklas has worked as a Research Associate within the University of East Anglia, spending time researching the effectiveness and trust behind chatbots as well as teaching as an Associate Tutor. Niklas is now completing a PhD at the University of East Anglia, researching different methods of inoculation that can be used against disinformation, with a focus on gamification.

Emna Haddouk

Student Outreach & Event Organisation

Information Security Awareness Officer

Emna is currently working as an information security awareness officer at a multinational luxury brand. She works on raising cyber security culture within the organisation, applying all the skills that she has learnt from competing in the competition.

Emna is hugely interested in cybersecurity. She wants to pursue a career in this field and she is currently working towards the CISSP certification.

Headshot of Emna
Headshot of Emna
Headshot of Lindsay
Headshot of Lindsay
Lindsay Wojtula

Supporter Co-Ordination

Incident Response Analyst

After working and travelling abroad for over 15 years with a background in Applied Linguistics and International Relations, Lindsay completed her second MA in Politics and Security between University College London and Charles University in Prague.

This experience directly contributed to her interest in Cyber Security, and inspired by many partners of Cyber 9/12, she pursued her interest and is currently working in the field as an Incident Response Analyst.