Robert Hannigan Interview: Former Director of GCHQ, Chairman of BlueVoyant

How do you generate creative, counterintuitive solutions to tackle major global challenges? And how do you foster an environment where people can excel under immense pressure?

keynote speaker robert hannigan

We sat down with Robert Hannigan, the former Director of GCHQ (the UK’s top cybersecurity agency, equivalent to the NSA in the USA). He established the National Cyber Security Centre in 2016 and crafted the UK’s first cyber strategy in 2009.

In this exclusive interview, Robert shares key insights from his latest book, Counter-Intelligence, which explores what the secret world can teach us about problem-solving and creativity. He provides a rare glimpse into the brilliant minds at Bletchley Park and GCHQ, uncovering the traits and strategies behind their success.

Robert delves into leadership in the technology age and the future impact of AI on cybersecurity.

He also highlights the role of diversity in successful teams, drawing lessons from the WWII codebreakers at Bletchley Park, where 75% of the team were women, most under 30. This pioneering team contributed to the creation of the first computer, and Robert discusses how their approach can be replicated in modern settings.

He reveals how he unified diverse groups to tackle significant problems, emphasizing the importance of collaboration across different backgrounds and skills.

Currently, Robert Hannigan is the international Chairman of BlueVoyant (International), a global cybersecurity firm, and a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center. He also runs a college at Oxford University, continuing to shape the future of cybersecurity and leadership.


Video Timeline

  • 00:16 – Who are you and what do you do?
  • 00:54 – What are the main takeaways from your latest book, Counter Intelligence?
  • 02:05 – How will AI impact cyber security over the next decade?
  • 03:25 – With all the issues facing the world today, how can people and corporations be more creative and solve problems?
  • 04:42 – What can the secret world teach us about leadership?
  • 05:39 – What challenges does big tech pose in the coming years?
  • 07:08 – What can the secret world teach us about diversity within teams?
  • 08:18 – What are your thoughts on misinformation in this digital age?


Order Robert Hannigan’s book, Counter-Intelligence.



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