Our Director of Information Security Jon Turner has a big job on his hands. His role is to protect our systems and data from the thousands of attempted hacks and scams we fend off every day, and learn about new ones. Luckily he has a good insight into a hacker’s mind – he was one once!
Here he talks to Lara Wilson about how he got into Information Security, why his team is so important, and how he unwinds from such a challenging job.

Jon’s really busy when I go to talk to him – It’s Cyber Security Awareness Month, and as well as his own role, he’s looking after Data Protection until we recruit a new director. His face lights up when he talks about working here though. He came to the Co-op a few years ago from Nationwide – another mutual, and before that had many other senior security roles. For him it all started when his university paid him to test its systems by hacking into them – something that started a lifetime love of security.

Now at the Co-op, his 40 strong team is supporting 140 projects across the group. Although no one’s safe from the baddies, Jon tells me that we’re pretty good at Information Security at the Co-op. We have strong systems, and some of the best security talent in the country – people from GCHQ, NCA and other industry experts. They do some secret stuff we can’t talk about, but they spend most of their time either reacting to the malicious things we get sent, or looking for new trends and research, trying to predict the next threat.

Being Co-op – even with other retailers

Surprisingly he tells me that his team also works closely with other retailers like Tesco, John Lewis and Sainsbury’s. It’s a really important part of the job as a threat to any retailer is a threat to us all, and the minute someone finds a weakness, no-one’s safe. So we work together to warn each other about threats and share solutions and even policies – possibly the ultimate example of co-operation.

Jon himself comes across as a really Co-op person. He talks about how great his team is, and he really cares that they enjoy their jobs. He’s also committed to diversity and the benefits it brings in tech. He’s the Group IT diversity lead and speaks on panels and at events encouraging women and under-represented groups into tech. He also tries to do his bit with fundraising for the IT team’s chosen charities – Manchester Mind, Stick ‘n’ Step, and Salford Loaves and Fishes.

He has a need for speed

Jon’s passion outside of work is Motorsport – driving really fast cars, including an old racing car of his own, and doing it up when bits fall off. Seems odd for someone whose job is to look for risks and choose the most secure option, but it helps him unwind  – maybe because it’s so different from his day job. Through his love of cars he’s also got involved with a unique and inspirational charity called Mission Motorsport that helps former service people who’ve been injured to go racing, and train towards recovery and rehabilitation.

He also confesses he watches rubbish TV to switch off. He includes Bake Off in that, so myself and his colleague Christina who’s sat near him, firmly shake our heads. We both agree that his other faves – Tattoo Fixers and Body Fixers, definitely fall into that category though!

Quick-fire questions:

Favourite Co-op own brand product: Definitely Cloudy lemonade (I drink lots of it)

In three words describe the Co-op culture you’d like to see: Inclusive, passionate, innovative

Top priority in the next couple of years: To make it easier for our colleagues to work securely

One bit of advice you’d give to fellow leaders: To look outside our business sectors for inspiration and good practice

Proudest moment: When I married my wife last January

Happiness is: Driving the Nurburgring on a sunny day

Personal ambitions: Go to Australia and watch the Bathhurst 24hr race