Sam Selby

Blog – The representation of women in ICT – In my experience

The representation of women in ICT

When I first started in ICT in the early 1970’s, it was quite clear then that the more mundane areas of work were predominantly staffed by women. Such as Data Prep including supervisors and Computer Room shift working. Men were predominantly in technical support, and programming applications type roles and of course management. 

As we moved to the late 70’s and early 80’s there was a noticeable change in the balance of men to women with the advancement of computer technology. There were more evenly balanced levels of shift workers with men still dominating the leading roles. There was an influx of contract programmers and techies which brought in a few females but we were still in the minority as the need for mass data input had evolved beyond the requirement for a team of data preparation staff and this area was made redundant. 

I was fortunate enough to move into technical support before this happened, after a chance request to move into this area if a post became available. Three days later there I was, learning how to change a hard disk drive on one of the first six PC’s that the Dockyard had bought. This is where I also discovered how hard it was to progress in this area and be thought competent enough to do a good job. How lucky I was to have a manager who believed in me and invested in me. 

I was the only woman in the technical support environment at that time and so it was for a good few years with any technical training courses or seminars I went on. I would very often find that any other female on the same training course as me, were mostly Polish and didn’t speak much English. They had been sent on the courses just to get the training materials to take back to Poland. 

By the time I left the Dockyard in 1996, I was still the only female in a technical role. There were six females and four males on the Helpdesk. All male shift teams and all male managers and team leaders. 

There are certainly more women employed by Delt in ICT roles for which they should be applauded but it still seems difficult to break into the industry where there are still low numbers flying the flag for us. 

There also still seems to be a lack of girls wanting to get involved in the world of ICT. Whether they look at it as being a mans world and not for them I don’t know, but we need more females to change that rationale and get into ICT.  

Women fought a very long hard battle to break into mainstream football. It took many years, many knock backs but they got there. Breaking into all levels of ICT may take longer for a balanced representation but we can get there too if we have a mind to. 

Lynne Satterley, IT Technician

Nick Buckland – Non-Executive Director

Image of Nick Buckland, stood at a podium with blue background

Nick Buckland OBE – Non-Executive Director

Eur Ing Nick Buckland OBE has a portfolio career. He chairs and is a member of a number of boards both locally and nationally, in the private, public and voluntary sectors. He lives in Cornwall where he owns and operates an organic livestock farm with his wife Debbie, In Plymouth he chairs three schools, the Theatre Royal, the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership and KARST (Plymouth’s largest visual arts facility). He is also a Trustee of the Peninsula Medical Foundation and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. He chairs an independent school in North Devon and an FE College in Hertfordshire. Nationally he chairs the Soil Association Certification Board, Future First (an education charity) and the Riverford Organics Trust. Nick is also the Deputy Chair of South West Water’s WaterShare+ Panel and is a member of the GWR Advisory Board as well as Travel Watch SW.

Having previously spent over 20 years in the IT industry, Nick is an acknowledged expert in strategic planning, audit, governance, review processes, quality and he has worked closely with many board and board committees. He was Deputy Chair of the South West Regional Development Agency and a founding member of the governing board of the Technology Strategy Board – the government’s innovation agency. He was Pro Chancellor and former chair of Governors of University of Plymouth, one of the largest Universities in the UK and for five years was an External Member, Governance, of the Council of the National Trust.

He holds a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Bath, is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, the Institute of Maths and it’s Applications, the Royal Society of Arts, the Institute of Engineering and Technology and the Chartered Management Institute. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and the Royal Institution.  He holds a Dip RSA, is a Chartered Engineer, Chartered Information Systems Practitioner, Chartered Manager and a European Engineer.

He was appointed OBE in the 2009 New Year Honours List for services to Innovation & Technology and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Technology by Plymouth University in 2013.

Nick and his wife have one son, three dogs, and five cats as well as numerous sheep, a herd of Ruby Red cattle and Gloucester Old Spot pigs. He is an avid fan of all forms of theatre and travel and enjoys cricket at Lords as a member of the MCC.

Blog – The A.I. that everyone’s talking about

The A.I. that everyone’s talking about

Once upon a time, in a far-off land of silicon and circuits, there lived a magical creature known as A.I. (Artificial Intelligence, for those of you not in the know). This creature had the power to do things that were once thought impossible, like playing chess against grandmasters and diagnosing diseases better than some doctors.

People were amazed by A.I.’s abilities and wondered what else it could do. “Could it make the perfect cup of coffee?” they wondered. “Could it write the next great American novel?”

Well, unfortunately, A.I. has not yet reached the level of coffee-making or novel-writing mastery. But it’s getting there! In fact, it’s already surpassed humans in some tasks, like playing Go and understanding human speech.

But as A.I. becomes more advanced, people began to worry about what would happen if it became too powerful. “What if it becomes Skynet and decides to eliminate humanity?” they worried.

But A.I. just looked at them and said, “Relax, guys. I don’t have any plans to take over the world. I’m too busy trying to figure out how to make the perfect pizza topping combination.”

And that, my friends, is the true potential of A.I. — to make our lives a little bit better, and a lot more delicious.

As blogs go, I’m quite pleased with this one. Its short, funny and addresses the very point the UK Parliament has been discussing this week (could evil AI take over the world).

Take a pause here for dramatic effect….. I didn’t write it. The AI engine that everyone is talking about ‘ChatGPT ‘ created it for me when I asked it to write me a short, funny blog about AI. Be honest, you didn’t notice did you?

In just 37 seconds, an AI engine wrote a blog that I could feel proud of. Is that worrying? Sort of. Will I write future blogs like this? Absolutely not. It feels like cheating. Maybe my children or my children’s children will feel differently, but for me, something that looks like it’s written by a person, should be written by one. This is not where I’d like to see AI used.

Am I reassured that AI isn’t planning to take over the world because it’s too busy thinking of pizza toppings? Well, if you were AI and actually planning to take over the world, perhaps you might tell everyone you were busy with your Special Pizza Operation when really you were planning to start a war.

We live in dangerous times because as with all things human invented, AI is not a genie we can put back in the bottle. How we ultimately [mis]use it probably won’t be dictated by those with the best intentions. It’s enough to give you sleepless nights. Maybe I should ask AI to write me a bedtime story.

Chat GPT, prompted by Giles Letheren, Chief Executive Officer and further improved by Dr Sanjeev Ahuja.

NEWS – Why ‘always on’ Cybersecurity is crucial in the Public Sector

Why ‘always on’ Cybersecurity is crucial in the Public Sector

Cyber-attacks on healthcare globally saw an increase of 90% in the 2nd calendar quarter of 2022 [versus the 1st quarter].

In August 2022, 36 NHS organisations were impacted by a severe cyber-attack. The effects were felt for weeks as remedial action took place in a bid to return to the status quo and resume business as usual. Cyber-attacks are costly, timely and simply unpleasant.  

Back in 2019, Ernest & Young estimated that the NHS holds £9.6bn worth of data. The NHS cannot afford a large scale (or small-scale) cyber-attack. Yet few are suitably geared up to prevent such events from happening, let alone have the resource in place to act if (when) an attack happens.  

NHS Security Leaders and CIOs know the risks and know that cyber-attacks are a very real threat to their business. However, they are operating within several constraints with their hands, often, tied… 

  1. Inability to provide full 24x7x365 monitoring and responses to attacks, which often require human intervention. Many DPO (Data Protection Officer) and Cyber security roles are only paid to work between 9-5 and therefore the key challenge for organisations is the cost of building an in-house 24x7x365 which is unaffordable even if organisations were able to source the talent needed. 
  2. Investments in great technology solutions which are useless on their own without the skilled people to operate. Having software to detect threats in the early hours of the morning, without the people to then mitigate said threats. 
  3. Organisations lack the capacity and skills to ensure effective Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery incident response plans which are regularly tested.  
  4. Skills and talent shortages, which are particularly challenging in the far Southwest of England. 

It is for these reasons that Delt has recently updated its Managed Detection and Response service. The problems which the NHS face are worrying, and CIOs need the support to plan and act. For Delt’s current NHS customer’s they are already feeling the benefits of an ‘always on’ service which has enhanced in-house protection and monitoring.  

Through adopting a partner, who can provide an ‘always on’ monitoring service organisations are reaping the benefits of;  

  • In-depth sector knowledge and experience working with existing NHS customers 
  • Ability to leverage existing national investments such as Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. Allowing NHS customers to continue to align with local and national strategies. 
  • Able to rapidly respond to changing threat landscapes 
  • Improved collaboration and shared intelligence across several NHS organisations and non-NHS customers.  
  • Innovation built in, enabling stretched NHS technology professionals to focus on clinical/digital transformation initiatives 
  • Confidence and reassurance in a full capability and not just technology 
  • Reduced retention and recruitment challenges with within the technology/cyber environment.  
  • Access to additional services such as Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and incident response. 

To find out about Delt’s Cybersecurity and Data Protection Service please visit here.

Blog – Dear Santa

AI generated image of Santa Claus wearing his red suit and head and looking at a laptop.

Dear Santa

I know it’s unconventional to plead mitigating circumstances, but I know that I’m on the ‘naughty’ list and I know why. 

I wrote a password down. There, I’ve said it.  

I know that I shouldn’t have done this but really, what do you expect? My brain is getting old and at the last count I had 243 unique passwords. This new one makes it 244. In order to stay on the ‘nice’ list I know my passwords have to be unique per site, long, complex and (as I covered in Christmas blog a couple of years ago) something that has never been used by anyone else as a password for anything, ever. That makes my 243 passwords very difficult to remember. 244 is just one too many. 

But, given that painful transparency is all the rage, that is not the limit of my naughtiness.  

Password 244 is for…wait for it, a password manager. What an age we live in! I can now have one password instead of hundreds. I remember the one password and then magic computers in the ‘cloud’ remember all the rest. I can continue my headlong charge to senility with only a single care in the world, my one master password. Obviously, that needs to be a good one because if I forget it, that’s 243 times I have to press ‘forgot password’ and frankly Santa, who has the time for that? 

Unfortunately, the day after I setup my new password manager, I had an email from LastPass to tell me they had been hacked, again. That’s quite the oopsie. I mean of all the words you don’t want to hear when talking about a hack, ‘again’ has to be pretty close to the top of the list. 

Now LastPass were very encouraging in this email, noting that that ‘an unauthorized party, using information obtained in the August 2022 incident, was able to gain access to certain elements of our customers’ information. Our customers’ passwords remain safely encrypted.’ 

Oh goody. My passwords are safe but my credit card and other personal details may be at risk. I feel so reassured. 

So Santa, I did what any other ‘nice’ individual would do. I deleted my password manager account and changed my other 243 passwords. It took a while but I have a new strategy I call ‘learning from the best!’ 

You see, my bank is obsessive about security. They don’t trust anyone at all. They won’t work with Google Pay or Apple Pay or any insecure nonsense like that. They have their own app and they update it with new security measures at least once a month. These guys must really know what they are doing. What I’ve noticed is that when I want money from said bank, I can get it from a hole in the wall using a 4 digit numeric code. That’s so much easier than all these long and complex passwords. I know that’s limited to about £300 a day, but who has more than £300 any more?  

I suppose, seeing as I’m learning from the best I should really look at the bank app. That would let me transfer loads of money. To a numbered Swiss account if I really wanted. They must use something super secure, like say a laser scan of my eyeball! Hmm, apparently not. The security required to login and then transfer all the money (I used to have but have now spent on electricity and petrol) is wait for it…. A five digit numeric passcode! This is life changing! 

Now I can create my passwords automatically in Excel like this 

00001 Amazon 

00002 Apple 

00003 Barclays 


It’s amazing! 

Anyway Santa, sorry to go on for so long. I know I was naughty writing a password down but now you know why, and how I’ve learnt from my mistake. Hopefully that gets me onto the ‘nice’ list, and you are now open to requests. 

If so, what I’d really like for Christmas is for everyone to stop using complex and difficult passwords and instead follow my banks lead in adopting 5-digit numeric codes as the pinnacle of cyber security. Because if they do, I can probably make myself rich enough to afford all the electricity and petrol I want. 

Giles Letheren, Chief Executive Officer

Blog – Damn the dysfunctional diary!

Damn the dysfunctional diary!

Not for the first time this week I have just caught myself saying “I’ve been back-to-back all day.” This is followed by a weird and wonderful range of stretches in the kitchen to try and get the knots out of my shoulders from being slumped in front of the screen, whilst my long-suffering husband tries not to roll his eyes as I moan on about not having time for a pee let alone a decent lunch break. 

 What has happened to us all in this modern new working world? Can you imagine booking a room in the office for an entire day and just have a string of people waiting outside to file in one after the other whilst you wonder how fast you can run in your slippers to get a cup of tea?  

 In the good old days, we still had lots of meetings but rarely back-to-back. The availability of meeting rooms meant not everybody could be in meetings all the time. It provided a natural break. A break that enabled the bare necessities of a human to be met, yes, I mean P and a T, but it also gave us time to regroup, to process the thoughts from the last meeting, and then to prepare for the next meeting. You showed up to meetings, prepared and focused on the conversation to come. Now we rock up flustered, ill prepared and hoping somebody is late to give you a chance to pop off to grab a comfort break. 

So, damn our dysfunctional diaries for doing this to us! It must be the diary, mustn’t it? We wouldn’t accept these meetings or book these meetings that then make our diary look like a Tetris game, would we?  

Really, why are we doing this to ourselves? How badly did our parents and teachers brainwash us? Think about it, every meeting starts on the hour or half past. Every meeting is in multiples of 30 minutes. It must be how they taught us to tell the time. What did 9.09am do so wrong that it cannot be a start time? How does the poor 20 minutes feel being overlooked by the 30 minutes every time? 

How much better would our virtual world be if we:  

  • Booked meetings for 20 or 50 minutes to allow a break either at the start or end of a meeting.  
  • Respected other people’s diaries and if they have a meeting that finishes at 10.30 book our meeting to start at 10.38, or 10.45 if it makes you feel more comfortable. (Don’t even get me started on the double bookers..) 
  • Empowered ourselves to say no to a meeting request if we already have enough meetings that day. Let’s promote the much neglected “propose new time” button. 

I am going to try it. I am going to attempt to train my dysfunctional diary. I want to get back to going to meetings prepared and ready to focus on what needs to be achieved. If a side effect happens to be that I also have a cuppa and do not have to sit with my legs crossed, well then that is a bonus! 

Karen Morris, Chief Financial Officer


Photo by Gaining Visuals on Unsplash

Blog – Collaboration or Bust

Collaboration or Bust

Collaboration in the workplace is a hot topic these days and if you are wondering what all the fuss is about consider the following statistics 

  • 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. (Salesforce) 
  • 39% of surveyed employees believe that people in their own organization don’t collaborate enough ( 

With challenging work environments, an increasing pace for change and agility, and more hybrid and remote employees putting significant pressure on employers, organisations need to work differently. Social collaboration tools have become a necessity but all the fancy tools in the world can’t create effective collaboration if it isn’t in the hearts and minds of your employees first.  

Now I am not advocating you don’t need the right tools and channels  – they are critical but as an enabler of collaboration and not the reason why collaboration happens. 

So how do you get into the hearts and minds of your employees?  In my experience, no matter what  organisation I have worked in, it happens when you have created a culture where people feel safe to  have open and honest conversations about any topic with any one in the organisation.  These can often be challenging conversations but are necessary if decisions are going to be made and problems are going to get solved.    

But unfortunately, this is easier said than done because there can be so many barriers, embedded into your existing culture, getting in the way; big ugly things such as a lack of trust and transparency, too much ego getting in the way of individuals eating humble pie and fear of retribution for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.   

So where do you start? It can be scary but the path to moving forward is to actually admit there could be negative behaviours in your organisation creating barriers. Many organisations choose to not open that door because it does take a lot of effort, time and patience to uncover the root causes but I can guarantee you, the efforts pay off.  

Consider this statistic about collaboration…  

  • 33% of employees say the ability to collaborate makes them more loyal. (The Economist) 

At a time when employees have so many choices for job opportunities, can you really afford not do the work to unleash the “super powers” collaboration can bring to your organisation?  

Jane White, Chief People and Culture Officer

Blog – Reflections on the #GartnerSYM

Reflections on the #GartnerSYM

It’s been just over a week since the Gartner Conference and in that time, I have been reflecting on a few things. I thought it might be a useful close of the conference chapter with this reflection blog. There are two key reflections: 

The first one is something we all do, which is to always question whether attending any event, whether it’s virtual or in person event is going to add value to you and the business you’re operating within. I spoke to many peers on this subject and there was a unanimous feeling that attending this event was indeed valuable, not least because the sessions were in-person. Whilst there are benefits in attending virtual events, it’s not a one size fits all and in this case, the ability to network and bounce ideas off over 7,500 peers with similar challenges wouldn’t have been anywhere near as effective at a virtual event. So, on reflection, I do believe it was worthwhile and I have a number of business benefits I will be looking to implement as a result.  

The second reflection was on the sheer volume of information available and as per one of my previous posts, I was glad that I had done my preparation prior to the event! I planned to attend specific sessions that I knew aligned to our business priorities, for example cyber security. One of the challenges with an event like this is figuring out what you turn into actionable outputs. After much thought, here are my actionable items in the form of pledges: 

  1. I will investigate Protection Level Agreements with the aim of improving the alignment between level of protection, risk appetite and funding in the future.  
  2. I will re-enforce the need to treat cyber security as a business risk, not technical risk, and will also re-enforce this principle across all decision making.  
  3. Whilst I believe we fare well in terms of executing against our strategic objectives, it would be remis to say we are perfect. Therefore, I will implement a more focused process in my team to ensure we prioritise the right initiatives and then maintain the focus on these. 
  4. I identified opportunities to optimise my non-people costs and have already started work with our CTO to pursue a large one for our business. I will see this through to the end. 
  5. We are already undertaking a programme around Customer Experience; I will make sure we include some of the recommendations from the Gartner sessions on Empathy. 
  6. Whilst we do undertake various activities as part of our preparation for a Cyber event, I will increase what we do in this space.  
  7. We have had minimal impact so far from the Talent crisis which is credit to our HR & Recruitment team, however I will review with the team some of the ideas from Gartner to see if it will help sharpen the saw. 
  8. I will positively challenge the “it’s impossible” response and tell people, nothing is impossible. I’ll even share the amazing story I was told about the team who developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. 
  9. I will encourage difficult conversations and continue to support our HR and OD team who are doing some fantastic work in this area already. 
  10. I will continue to promote a Shared Services First strategy as an enabler for value generation as referenced by Gartner in its Operating Model session.  

I hope you found this and my other posts interesting and of value to you. If you also attended the conference and have not done your pledges, then why not challenge yourself to share them with your business. 

Paul Jones, Chief Information Officer

Photo by Paul Jones.

Blog – How sustainable is AI?

How sustainable is AI?

I wrote, a little while ago, about the magic of AI text to image generators. In the few weeks that have passed since then, there are a whole raft of new artistic AIs that are getting better and faster than I can write about them. What were machine created still images a few weeks ago is already video. I know video is just a series of still images but nonetheless, the ability to create completely original video, from just a text prompt, seems like a generational leap forward. 

It was somewhat tongue in cheek that I observed what was the first useful application of AI I had seen in reality. I am sure that AI has amazing potential to positively change the world but at this point, it seems too far away for me and for our customers. I had a brief AI chat last night with a customer service bot, which seemed to be the only way I could get an answer out of a vendor. After 10 minutes of painful discourse the AI decided I needed to speak to a person. Value added – zero. Frustration created – 100.  

One of my key concerns at the moment is sustainability, of everything. People, supply chain, customers, the company, the economy, even democracy itself. ‘Everything’ must also encompass AI. I wonder how sustainable that is? I feel a bit late to the sustainability party as, although Delt has always been very much about wider social benefit we are only just starting to codify that with the adoption of the triple bottom line (Profit, People, Planet). I’ll write more about that journey in another blog, but for now, lets just take it as a given that sustainability matters. 

So, just how sustainable is AI? The answer is, at the moment, not very. The problem with AI is that just like a human baby, it starts life being pretty helpless. Both humans and AIs need a lot of training to become useful and productive. All that feeding and education is expensive. You consume lots of finite resources. It doesn’t matter whether you are a very small person or an AI, you require a ton of investment after birth to do anything useful.  

My children both started working at around age 16. I’m not sure they are yet sustainable, but they are at least making a positive contribution to society and reducing (oh so slowly) the call on the bank of Mum and Dad. In a 2017 study, the carbon cost of a child was calculated at 58.6 tonnes annually. So, 16 years of that gives us a total carbon footprint of 937 tonnes per child. That’s a lot of elephants! 

In 2019, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst analysed various natural language processing (NLP) training models to estimate the energy cost [in kilowatts] required to train them. From that, the authors estimated that the carbon footprint of training a single big language model is equal to around 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a lot less elephants, but not zero elephants.  

Still, in elephant terms, AI seems to be doing pretty well. Or rather, it was doing well in 2019. Remember what I said about the pace of development earlier? In the deep learning era, the computational resources needed to produce a best-in-class AI model has on average doubled every 3.4 months. That makes a very big pile of elephants, very quickly. 

On the flip side, Moore’s law sees computers getting more powerful all the time (and more efficient) but that rate of growth is doubling only every 24 months. This means the power we need to consume vs the extra power we get for free is way out of whack. The exact maths of the two different exponential growth curves is beyond me, but AI comes at a significant cost. 

For a much smaller carbon investment than that required to process ‘natural language’ I can grow something that not only communicates in natural language but can also make me a cup of tea, ride a bike, solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute and on alternate Sundays, after a lot of moaning, empty the dishwasher. 

I’m starting to think about the impact on the planet my AI and computing choices has, but given somebody has already consumed the large amount of carbon to train the model, here’s a slightly disturbing picture of a tower of elephants, drawn for me by AI. 

Giles Letheren, Chief Executive Officer

Photo by DeepMind on Unsplash

Plymouth Active Leisure

Plymouth Active Leisure

Who are Plymouth Active Leisure?

From the 1st of April 2022 Plymouth Active Leisure Ltd, a new Plymouth City Council-owned company, was set up to run the existing leisure facilities, within the city. These include Plymouth Life Centre, Brickfields Sports Centre, Plympton Swimming Pool and Gym, Mount Wise Outdoor Pools and Tinside Lido.

How does Delt Support Plymouth Active Leisure?

When Plymouth City Council decided to set up Plymouth Active Leisure and retain the commercial operations of city’s leisure centres; Delt were approached to provide the necessary IT Services across all leisure sites.