Security Professionals' Annual Security Lecture

Wednesday 13th March 2019

One of the joys of a Master's year is the great variety of opportunity to broaden one's knowledge and a key source is the array of lectures organised by fellow Livery Companies. This lecture organised by the Security Professionals is a case in point. The scheduled speaker was Sir Mark Sedwill KCMG, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, appointed National Security Adviser in April 2017. He was to join the Security Professionals and their guests at Barber-Surgeons' Hall to deliver this year's Annual Security Lecture but unfortunately the politics of the day forced him to withdraw on the morning of the event. Unwilling to disappoint the Security Professionals, his deputy, Madeleine Alessandri, stepped into the breach. She is the UK Deputy National Security Advisor responsible for Intelligence, Security and Resilience.

The Hall was packed and, whilst a little uncertain what to expect knowing that Sir Mark had cancelled, the audience was rapt as soon as Madeleine began her cogent address on the state of global security and the potential future threats to our society. Unscripted and with breathtaking speed and clarity, she took us through the themes of political dynamics, economic imbalances, technological development (AI, quantum computing, 5G), climate change and terrorism. Elegantly stitched together, these themes were thoroughly explored, contextualised and, where possible, placed in perspective. There then followed one of the most extraordinary and engaged Q&A sessions that I have heard in a very long time with Madeleine providing exquisitely fashioned responses to demanding and piercing questions on subjects at the heart of her work. It was truly impressive. All the more so for the fact that she had been parachuted into the lecture with just hours of notice. It is good to know that people of Madeleine's calibre are dedicated to the service of the country.