Skip to content

EPISODE #14 Humans of Cybersecurity




Conversations in the tech sector often focus on facts and data, technology and numbers.

But there’s a very human side to technology, something my guests on episode 14 of the TechTalks Podcast brought to the show. I’m so grateful that David Shipley, CEO of Beauceron Security, and James Stewart, founder and CEO of TrojAI, spent as much time talking about leadership, company culture, giving back and mentoring as they did engineering, product capability and investment.

This show is the second in TechTalks’ three-part miniseries on cybersecurity. It provides an on-the-ground sense of what life in a quickly growing startup is like and why cybersecurity is so critical now.

Many Paths to Cyber

We kicked things off by talking about my guests’ paths into cybersecurity, and I was fascinated by the diversity of their credentials and experience. It also provided so much insight into their passion for what they do, why they love it, and why it’s so personally important to them both!  

James comes from a deeply technical background, with a Ph.D. in computer science and years of tech industry experience. He knows the worlds of both academia and business but says he never felt entirely at home in either camp.

“I found my passion when I joined the police force here in Saint John as a crime analyst,” he says. That was 16 years ago and he’s been an auxiliary officer ever since.

“I love crime. I love the sinister world,” James says. Pair that with his technical background, and he’s got a unique and powerful perspective on safety and security. He brought that to EhEye, his first startup, which used artificial intelligence and computer vision to automate the early detection of weapons and disturbances. He sold it in 2018, founding TrojAI last year to develop solutions to protect artificial intelligence platforms from cyber attacks.

A recurring theme here at TechTalks is debunking the idea that tech or cybersecurity is only for programmers, something David speaks to directly.

“I'm an accidental cybersecurity professional,” he says. “I never envisioned that this was the career I was going to end up in. In fact, when I was a kid growing up, it didn't even exist except in science fiction.”

Self-describing himself as “probably New Brunswick’s second-biggest nerd,” David’s colourful resume includes stints as a soldier, journalist, marketer and hacktivist. His trip down the “Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of cyber” began in 2012 when he was at Information Technology Services at the University of New Brunswick.

The Local Advantage

Founded in 2015, Beauceron Security grew out this experience in measuring, managing and monitoring cyber risk.

It’s a real New Brunswick story. It came out of UNB like Q1Labs, one of the province’s most significant exits, backed by the local early-stage innovation ecosystem and established companies, and supported by serendipitous introductions and the region’s famously connected culture.

Now, Beauceron is a 27-person company (and growing, check out its job opportunities here) that serves almost 300 customers, including national household brands in telecommunications, banking, government, and more.  2020 saw significant growth as it did just over $2 million in sales.

David’s team embodies the range of roles and talents needed in the sector.

“People think you have to be wearing your hoodie in your basement, going through lines of code,” David says. “We need people that can do risk analysis. We need people that can communicate and market and talk about security and build security cultures.”

Powered by People

Beauceron’s unique value proposition lies in its focus on the human side of cyber, turning people “from passive victims into the most effective line of defence.”

“How do we get people, process and culture to change the security culture in an organization, not just add new security tools to the mix?” David says. I found that while listening to David explain this, I could picture the confidence that would be instilled in the users of their solution. 

Speaking of culture, James is fresh off the TechStars Montreal AI Accelerator, which he calls “a highlight of my entrepreneurial career.” The highly competitive program included leadership training that caused him to reflect upon his intentions and his bigger purpose in building his company.  

“When you get up in the morning, what is it you're trying to do?” James says. “And it turns out,  I've identified mine as creating jobs.”

TT Ep. 14_Group Photo.jpg


Help in Many Forms

James spoke of the “give first” mentality at TechStars, where companies are encouraged to ask for and provide help. 

“And that resonates with our DNA here, too,” James says. “If there's a New Brunswick or an Atlantic Canadian company, stop what you're doing to help first.”

One of the other great things accelerators provide are connections, something Beauceron has benefitted from, especially from its involvement in the Rogers Cybersecurity Catalyst, where they met the U.S. chief security officer for Microsoft.

Beauceron has become a Microsoft partner, and will bring new technologies to market this year that integrate with the tech giant’s products. David calls it a “whole new opportunity” to work with large enterprises via Microsoft and make Beauceron products available in its digital store. Exciting stuff!

We closed the show much the way we started: talking about people and culture and how these two leaders are building organizations based on transparency and mentorship, as well as excellence.  

Honestly, I found this conversation so interesting and inspiring. It breaks down myths about tech and tech careers. And it just keeps building on that narrative we’re hearing throughout TechTalks, that big things are happening in our small region.  We’re building a strong cybersecurity cluster and are fortunate to have leaders like James and David here living out their passions and creating opportunities for others.

You’ll definitely want to check out our full conversation by clicking here to listen.

Here's a peek at some of the highlights from this episode:

  • [06:22]: David on building his team by surrounding himself with people who are smarter than him. “My job is to get out of their way.”

  • [13:19]:  James on AI, and its particular vulnerabilities to cyberattack. 

  • [17:27]: David on Beauceron’s “secret sauce” of developing a personal risk score that works like a fitness rating on your Fitbit.

  • [26:59]:  James provides some real-life AI cybersecurity examples.

  • [33:25]: David breaks down how the CIA–confidentiality, integrity and availability– of data shows up in cybersecurity breaches. 

  • [42:26]: James on the mix of technical skills and grit in the local talent pool.


Do you subscribe to the Tech Talks With Cathy Simpson podcast? If not, please do. Every week, my guests and I will be covering lots of different topics around innovation, technology and the future. Click here to listen and subscribe in iTunes. You'll find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, PodLink and everywhere else you enjoy podcasts.

And sign up for our newsletter to never miss an update. 
Visit Techimpact's website here