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Dec 2023

12 People of Waterstons – Jessica Hall

On the fifth day of Christmas, Waterstons gave to me, Jessica Hall.

Categories Security Operations, Cyber Resilience, Cyber Security Strategy

Head of Security Operations

Jessica is Head of Security Operations – alongside her team of experts, she protects our clients from incoming cybersecurity threats 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Not only that, she ensures that the service we provide progresses with the evolving threat landscape.  

After realising she was too squeamish for crime scene forensics, she merged her passion for technology with that of forensics and completed a degree in Digital and Computer Forensics.

While working for a leading car manufacturer in the EMEA Security Operations team during her university placement, Jessica got the cybersecurity bug and moved into a technology consultant role at Waterstons when she graduated. Being too nervous to answer incoming calls, she worked on our Network Operations Centre (NOC) whilst pursuing any opportunity to be involved in the growing cyber team.

Within six months of making it known that she wanted to create a Security Operations Centre (SOC), she had built it, working solo on the service until 2020 when Waterstons invested in taking it 24x7 in April 2021. She now strategically directs the service, with a team of 20 analysts and engineers globally.

We asked Jessica about what she’s learned so far in her career, and what she’s most proud of.

“Everyone makes mistakes, but learning from them is the most valuable thing you can do in your career. When we were knee-deep in one of our first major ransomware incidents at a client, we worked around the clock to contain the attack and remediate any damage. This is normal for SOC now, but at the time a lot of the effort (and pressure) was on a small number of people. When I finally, and reluctantly, accepted help – when I was definitely overdue a nap and completely burned out - I remember our Operations Director sitting me down and telling me “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” – and that really stuck with me. It’s so easy to go 100 miles an hour constantly, especially when you’re early in your career – and even more so in cyber security - without remembering you’re a human and you need to look after yourself too. I’m by no means perfect with this, but it’s incredibly important to look after your own wellbeing and that’s something I try to remember as I progress in my career.

“Through my own experience, I know how powerful it can be to invest in early careers and give opportunities regardless of experience. When building the team, it has always been a key focus of mine to provide entry roles into cyber, and it has easily become my favourite part of the job to see individuals who may be shy or unconfident, thrive and become their best selves in a field they are passionate about.”

Jessica was recently shortlisted for Cyber Security Woman of the Year at the national Cyber Security Awards, and won Young Digital and Technology Professional of the Year at the North East Young Professionals Awards.

To find out more about Jessica, her career so far, plans for the future and passion for musical theatre (she could have been a West End star don’t you know?!), get in touch at