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From the Turntables to Cybersecurity: Trustpilot’s Stu Hirst on his Leadership Symphony

Mon 26 Feb 2024

Ahead of Cloud & Cyber Security Expo at ExCeL London on 6-7 March, we caught up with Stu Hirst, the Chief Information Security Officer at Trustpilot.

Stu reflected on pivotal years that shaped his unique trajectory from a DJ and sound engineer to a leading figure in cybersecurity.

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A Year of Musical Pursuit and Career Transition

The first pivotal year Hirst shared was 2010. He described it as a turning point due to a bold decision to take a sabbatical from his job in banking to pursue music full-time.

“I was a mainframe developer for about 12 years,” said Hirst.

His passion for music saw him dive into the world of DJing, sound engineering, and record production. However, as the year unfolded, the financial impracticalities of a career in music became apparent.

“I couldn’t sustain the lifestyle really,” Hirst recalled, marking the end of his year-long musical escapade and the beginning of his cybersecurity journey at Trainline.

The Intersection of Creativity and Cybersecurity

When asked about the confluence of his musical creativity and the technical rigors of cybersecurity, Hirst saw parallels in the rapid pace of technological change in both fields.

Most of it was technology-based, especially when I was making music,” he says, drawing a line between the use of new software in music production and the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity.

This transition from the artistic realm of music to the analytical world of cybersecurity was underpinned by a common thread of fast-paced innovation and an enduring thirst for learning.

Building a Career on Inquisitiveness and Shared Goals

Hirst reflected on the common traits he observes among cybersecurity professionals.

“I think we’re an inquisitive lot in security,” said Hirst, adding that the field demands a continuous learning curve.

This collective inquisitiveness is coupled with a shared mission to enhance Internet security, whether by safeguarding digital assets or physical infrastructure.

Hirst also touches on the unspoken camaraderie in the cybersecurity community, a mutual understanding of the job’s challenges and stresses, fostering a supportive environment for professionals navigating this demanding landscape.

The Evolution of Cybersecurity

Looking back at his entry into cybersecurity, Hirst highlighted the monumental shift towards cloud computing as a defining change in the field. The transition from traditional data centres to cloud services has revolutionised application development and operational agility.

“The agility we now have, pushing code hundreds of times a day, compared to once a month or once a fortnight as it used to be, is amazing,” Hirst remarked, emphasising the transformative impact of cloud technology on cybersecurity practices.

Cultivating a Successful Cybersecurity Team

When it comes to assembling a cybersecurity team, Hirst values traits that transcend technical skills. Integrity, a willingness to learn, and the ability to embrace challenges stand out as key attributes.

“It’s more soft skills that I particularly look for because I think that the tech can be taught,” Hirst asserted, underscoring the importance of adaptability and autonomy within his team.

A Pivotal Year of Personal Growth

Hirst’s most recent transformative year, 2023, was marked by a significant personal challenge: a substantial loss of hearing.

This unexpected turn of events tested his resilience and forced him to adapt to a new reality, both personally and professionally.

“It was a pretty tricky year,” Hirst admitted, highlighting the difficulties of navigating his role with a newfound disability.

Despite these challenges, Hirst’s journey through 2023 is a testament to his ability to persevere and continue excelling in his career, underscored by the robust support from Trustpilot and the broader cybersecurity community.

Looking Ahead and Embracing Adaptability

As Hirst looks to the future, he remains focused on continuing his work at Trustpilot, furthering his engagement with the cybersecurity community, and embracing the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

His story encapsulates the essence of adaptability, continuous learning, and the power of community support in navigating both personal and professional growth.

At the Cloud & Cyber Security Expo, Hirst will share more insights into his journey and the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, offering valuable lessons and inspiration for professionals at all stages of their careers.

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