Members' Formal Dinner with Angela Essel
Date: 28 Oct 2021
Business and The Government – taking a combined approach to tackle national security
Members of Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP) came together last week for the first dinner event in almost 20 months. Each dinner, which connects businesses from across a plethora of industries based within Milton Keynes, is attended by a high calibre speaker from the world of politics, industry, sport, and business, who shares their vast knowledge and experience with the group.
As the first dinner speaker since February 2020, members came out in force to hear from Angela Essel, Head of the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC).
Speaking about how JSaRC are creating collaborative opportunities for industry and government to take on security challenges and develop solutions, Northampton born Angela also discussed the role business leaders have in unlocking the value of people, and how to embed diversity and inclusion within their organisations.
Drawing upon her own experience, Angela candidly discussed how, as a black woman she was often the minority: “I learned from an early age, as one of only four black students in my class at school, that I had to be determined in pursuing what I wanted to achieve.”
Qualifying with a degree in Information Systems, followed by a stint in programming for a bank in the private sector, Angela went on to pursue a career within the public sector. This included roles within the Police Information Technology Organisation and the Home Office, both of which opened Angela’s eyes up to the fact that the civil service still needs greater diversity, “an organisation needs a diverse workforce in order to understand and service the diverse communities it operates within.”
While at the Home Office, through her roles within the Centre for Applied Science and Technology, and the Security Innovation and Demonstration Centre, Angela was instrumental in the rollout of technological law-enforcement tools such as body-worn cameras.
“This was my first experience in bringing together public servants and industry experts – it’s the reason I joined the public sector.”
In 2016, Angela was part of the team that founded JSaRC, which sits within the Home Office department’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, to support and increase such public-private collaboration. “My role is to bring government, industry and academia together to identify solutions aimed at addressing UK security challenges.”
Fuelling the belief that government and industries should work in partnership in order to drive security, JSaRC sees civil servants and private sector businesses working together. This cohesion, which works to create solutions and increase government spending on security, has brought many projects to fruition.
From the trial of new shoe screening technology at London Luton Airport, to testing the use of fraud documentation and biometrics technologies in several institutions with HM Prison and Probation Service. The latter resulted in a £100 million pledge for the Ministry of Justice from the Prisons Minister.
At the helm of JSaRC, Angela is instrumental in fulfilling the role the unit plays as a government leader for industry engagement for National Security and Resilience challenges. Her position also enables her to lead on diversity and inclusion, particularly in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement which has placed her in a position of importance: “I am passionate about creating diverse cultures and creating career opportunities for the BAME community.”
Equally, Angela placed importance on unlocking value, in both herself and her staff, encouraging other business leaders to take the same stance: “People need to build a connection within the workplace and build an environment which is both comfortable and open.”