E60 - Guy Morrell at The Francis Crick Institute

George Barnes
Guy Morrell

By George Barnes & Guy Morrell

On today’s episode of The Route to Networking podcast, our Co-Founder, George Barnes was joined by Guy Morrell, the CISO and Head of Networks at The Francis Crick Institute. Guy has been at The Francis Crick Institute for 7 years now, originally starting out as a Network Team Lead back in 2015, working his way up to Chief Information Security Office.

As a child, you have these crazy ideas of what you dream of being and Guy wanted to be an Astronaut/Rockstar. After realising this wasn’t realistic growing up, he asked himself what his alternatives were. He decided to go to university to do a degree in computer systems engineering. While at uni, he went to a chemical supplier’s company as a summer job, with engineering work in mind. They ended up making him crawl around the attack laying ethernet cables. During his second summer at university, he worked for an engineering company in Birmingham, again with engineering work in mind, but he ended up doing databases and fixing their website.

Shortly after leaving university, he found the Francis Crick Institute where his Networking journey started. Over time he ended up specialising in Networking, even more, being an architect at one point, then in more recent years has stepped into management and then has gone back to being in more of a broad role with the security side.

To anybody considering taking the university route, Guy suggests if you are able to go and justify the cost of it, it is absolutely worth it. There is something great about brushing up with people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with, bringing different ideas and it broadens you as a person.

During his career, one thing he has learnt that he believes everyone should know, and something he didn’t quite appreciate when he was coming into it, is the importance of communication in any career. Having the ability to say what you mean and filter out your tone in an email is incredibly important. If you can, then learn effective business communication because you’ll see that it can take you far.

His transition from the Networking role to Security wasn’t easy. He transitioned during the pandemic when everyone was remote working and was asked to take on this brand-new role as well as his current job at that time. He overcame it by having discussions with his team about how they can make it work. They ended up doing a team restructure, and he carves sections out of his week to do the security side. Overall, the main takeaway he got from it was learning how to delegate. It was a great transition period for him because he loved the Networking side but also glad he has gone into the security side because it’s new and exciting.

With many new technologies appearing in the woodwork every day, they can’t always be positive, can they? Guy, he has seen a lot of wonderful Engineers come up through Help Desk positions and if that all gets automated, the opportunities to learn first-hand will go down. Automation is a big part of the future, but if we don’t have Engineers to train and mentor new ones, there won’t be anyone to fill those roles. You see, automation does not come easy. It takes a special type of person that can approach automation like it’s a puzzle, who will learn how to troubleshoot each part and solve problems until they get back up and running.

For anyone looking to get into Networking and Security, Guy says to pursue the jobs, roles and projects that excite you! Sometimes it may take you down a strange direction but you could end up miserable if you don’t try out different avenues.

It is not always plain sailing in this industry though… Guy shares his biggest Networking disaster since he started his career. Make sure you tune in now to hear the full story!