Heather Lowrie - Lead Security Architect - National Records of Scotland

Issued: Thu, 16 Jul 2020 00:00:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

At school, I wanted to be an astronomer when I grew up.

Tell us about your career journey so far

I started my Technology career as a Software Engineer on the RBS Technology Graduate Programme. I progressed through various technical and technical leadership roles in Application Development and Infrastructure Engineering while working in Edinburgh, Dublin and London. I took a career break to do a research master’s degree and worked in academia for a while before returning to industry. I joined Morgan Stanley in 2016 as a Vice President in the Technology Risk division, leading various global programmes in Security, Testing, Assessments and Risk. In early 2020 I joined the Scottish Government, as Lead Security Architect at the National Records of Scotland.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

I loved Maths but I also loved languages, in particular German, and have been coding since I got my first computer at primary school. Learning a new programming language is not so different to learning a new foreign language, although computers are much less forgiving of syntax errors!

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

For my role, I needed a degree and experience-based professional qualifications. At university I studied Law for my undergraduate degree, and then did an intensive postgraduate conversion course in Information Technology before starting my 2-year graduate training programme in Technology.

I am a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and a professional member of the British Computer Society. I think the most important qualifications for my role are analytical and problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn. I would encourage anyone with a passion for technology and a willingness to learn to consider a career like mine.

What is a normal day in your role like?

At the moment, I am working from home due to the COVID-19 situation. I start work early and review my inbox and calendar to set my priorities for the day. I try to complete the most important tasks in the morning, which could include writing a paper to support a key design decision that needs to be made relating to a computer system; reviewing technical design documentation prior to providing approval at the weekly Architecture Review Board; or providing security consultancy and guidance to project teams. I usually go for a long walk at lunchtime to get away from my desk, and in the afternoon I catch up with colleagues and respond to emails.

What's your favourite thing about your job?

I love solving problems and learning new things - I get to solve problems and learn something new every day, while working collaboratively with talented colleagues.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?
Please share links to relevant resources.

Computational thinking is really important in many aspects of technology. Algorithms are clear and umabiguous instructions to solve problems, which can often be translated using a programming language for a computer to follow.

STEM Learning has lots of great resources available to support home learning about algorithms. These resources will help you to recognise the fundamental building blocks of algorithms: sequencing, selection and iteration, and understand how to use abstraction, decomposition and other computational thinking techniques.

If you're a STEM Ambassador in Scotland and want to share your story you can download the form here.